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Wind Farm Subsidies Facing The Axe

May 31, 2015

By Paul Homewood




As expected, the Tories are bringing forward their first moves to end subsidies for onshore wind. From the Telegraph:


Subsidies that have fuelled the spread of onshore wind farms are to be dramatically curtailed, under Government plans to be unveiled within days.

The Telegraph has learnt that a generous subsidy scheme will be shut down earlier than expected, effectively preventing thousands of turbines from getting built, under plans being considered by Amber Rudd, the new energy secretary.

The proposals, which could be announced as soon as this week, will set out for the first time how the Conservatives will implement their manifesto pledge to end any new public subsidy for onshore wind farms – amid concerns that turbines are unpopular with local communities.

Under current policy, any big onshore wind turbines built before the end of March 2017 would automatically be able to qualify for generous payments through a scheme called the Renewables Obligation (RO), which is funded through green levies on consumer energy bills.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change has now confirmed it plans to “reform” the RO scheme. It is understood to be looking at ending the free-for-all by shutting the scheme down early – effectively preventing thousands of turbines getting built. The action follows similar moves taken to curb subsidies for solar farms last year.

After the RO shuts, the only possible subsidies for wind farms will be through a new scheme that is less generous and also much more strictly rationed, with ministers deciding how many projects – if any – are awarded subsidy contracts, enabling them to block further onshore wind if desired.

As well as big wind farms, subsidies for small individual wind turbines such as those popular with farmers – funded through a separate scheme called the Feed in Tariff – are expected to be limited under the plans.

A spokesman for the DECC said: “We are driving forward plans to end new public subsidy for onshore wind farms.

“We will shortly be publishing our plans to reform the Renewables Obligation and Feed in Tariff scheme to implement this commitment. With the cost of supplying onshore wind falling, government subsidy is no longer appropriate.

“We have supported new technologies when they’ve been a good deal for the consumer – providing start-up funding and certainty about future payments to help them become competitive. However, those subsidies won’t continue when costs come down – that’s not value for money for billpayers in the long run.”

Ms Rudd said: “We promised people clean, affordable and secure energy supplies and that’s what I’m going to deliver. We’ll focus support on renewables when they’re starting up – getting a good deal for billpayers is the top priority.”

Government plans to tackle climate change and hit EU renewable energy targets envisage that between 11 and 13 gigawatts (GW) of onshore wind power is needed by 2020.

More than 9.5 GW of projects – about 5,500 turbines – have either already been built or are under construction in the UK. At least 5.2 GW more wind farms – almost 3,000 more turbines – have already been granted planning permission.

Even if not all of these are built there would still be enough to hit the top end of Government plans.

On top of that, there are close to 3,000 more big new turbines with a combined capacity of more than 7GW seeking planning permission.

The DECC spokesman said: “Looking at what has already had planning permission, there is enough onshore wind to contribute what’s needed to reach the ambition set out in the Coalition Government’s renewables roadmap that 30 per cent of our electricity should come from renewables by 2020.”

Many of the projects that already have planning permission would have been expecting to secure subsidies under the RO scheme and it is not clear whether they will still be able to if the scheme shuts early. Ministers may consider offering a ‘grace period’, enabling some of those that already have permission to still get built while blocking off subsidies for those that do not.


Unfortunately, there is no parallel commitment to put an end to even more expensive subsidies for offshore wind.


One of the areas of uncertainty is what happens to new wind farms being built in Scotland, where energy policy is devolved to the Scottish Parliament. According to the Telegraph:

One of the biggest factors determining the impact of the proposed changes will be whether or not they apply in Scotland, where the majority of proposed turbines are due to be built.

The Government said last week that it would “consult with the devolved administrations on changes to subsidy regimes for onshore wind farms”.

Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP Scottish First Minister, wants more onshore wind farms and has already demanded a veto on the Tory plans – raising the prospect that subsidies could continue to be paid to new projects in Scotland.

However the Conservatives will be under pressure from their own backbenches to ensure the subsidies are scrapped across the UK.

Perhaps the simple answer is to let Scottish bill payers pay for their own subsidies!

  1. Joe Public permalink
    May 31, 2015 10:21 am

    It can’t happen a moment too soon.

    And should the Scots politicians wish to have their own subsidy regime, so be it. Those south of the border will prefer to buy 24/7/365 reliable power from the French.

  2. May 31, 2015 10:44 am

    This is welcome news, wonder how it will impact applications currently submitted but not approved?

  3. johnmarshall permalink
    May 31, 2015 10:52 am

    But will the “green” department bureaucrats let this through.

  4. A C Osborn permalink
    May 31, 2015 10:57 am

    The Green Policies continue to bite in Germany.
    After Eon hiving off it’s Coal & Gas Stations we now have Siemens giving up on Turbine production in Germany with the loss of 1600 jobs.

  5. May 31, 2015 11:04 am

    I wish we could shut them down in West Virginia. Scenic Backbone Mountain in Preston and Tucker Counties has been skinned and perched with these awful things. Incredible tonages of cement have been put into an acid area as pads for them and likely leaches. Also they kill a lot of bats and a number of birds. The bats are killed when sharp changes in air pressures burst their lungs–nice. Also a number of the bats in WV are among threatened groups plus we have the white nose fungus killing many. And where are the environmentalists who picket every time someone cuts a tree which might be seen from Blackwater Falls State Park??? Yes, it is crickets chirping. And believe you me, these can be seen from the park and all over Tucker County.

  6. Bloke down the pub permalink
    May 31, 2015 11:23 am

    ‘ what’s needed to reach the ambition set out in the Coalition Government’s renewables roadmap that 30 per cent of our electricity should come from renewables by 2020.”

    Having painted themselves into a corner with their promises (now interestingly called ambitions) for renewable energy, I can offer a way out for Amber Rudd and ,more importantly, George Osborne, one that comes out of the green lobbies own rule book. When the greens announce a new wind farm it is always measured in terms of it’s capacity in either mega watts or in the number of households it can power. Now we all know that that capacity will never be achieved and that 25% is usually the best they can offer. The government should start talking about their aim being to have 30% of electricity production capacity coming from renewables by 2020. The majority of the population would not notice the change and would still think the government was sticking to it’s target. Meanwhile, in the real world, 95% of our supply would come from reliable fossil and nuclear generation which could then be run profitably without a permanent threat of closure hanging over it.

    • A C Osborn permalink
      May 31, 2015 12:18 pm

      I like that plan as we are there now, especially if we use “Average Requirement”, around 36GW and max Capacity of 12GW of Renewables. Hey Presto, 33%.

  7. May 31, 2015 1:52 pm

    Any chance I might no more before I speak against a development Tuesday?

  8. June 1, 2015 8:52 am

    I’ve also read what happened to the onshore wind farms. As for the offshore ones, I think that is a good idea to stop those projects and to better analyse what is their influence over the ocean and the climate. From what I’ve read here,, the stirring effect can warm the water and be a part of the climate change process.

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