Europe’s windiest country is set to reap the economic benefits
14th November 2017 | Residential Energy
Scotland is the windiest country in Europe. That’s a fact which give us an unassailable edge in tackling one of the world’s most important challenges: climate change. While doing so is a moral obligation, Scotland’s abundant renewable energy resources mean it’s an obligation which is already delivering significant economic and social benefits north of the border.
Onshore wind power is the most recognisable face of our renewable energy industry, and it’s one which is already providing almost a quarter of the electricity used by our homes and businesses. Figures from the Office for National Statistics show 7,500 people are employed because of this one technology alone in Scotland, while onshore wind developers invested more than £440 million in the country in 2015, the most recent year for which figures are available.
Most importantly, onshore wind is cheap and popular, with figures from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy showing public support is at a record high. With the average UK thermal power station now more than 30 years old, replacements are urgently required.
Figures from the UK Government in November 2016 showed new onshore wind projects would be cheaper than new gas plants, and almost a third cheaper than the price agreed for the new Hinkley Point C nuclear power station. That means using a mix of renewable technologies, including onshore wind and solar power, is the cheapest way of modernising our energy system.
A recent Cost of Energy Review commissioned by the UK Government recognised the rapidly falling cost of renewables, but the UK’s onshore wind industry hasn’t enjoyed plain sailing of late. A Conservative manifesto commitment made ahead of the 2015 General Election meant new onshore wind and large scale solar developments were locked out of the energy market. They’re the only technologies from any energy sector which aren’t eligible to compete for long-term contracts for power. Instead, more expensive technologies have taken their place.
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