Energy Seminar – Week 8: What do we need to do to build onshore wind?

Onshore wind in the UK is complex. It is a mature technology with a current capacity of close to 15GW. That is enough to power over 9.5 million homes which last year generated 11% of the UK’s electricity needs. With the first commercial wind farm being built in England in 1991 – it means we are in our fourth decade of onshore wind generation. Yet, with different planning rules across the devolved administrations, onshore wind is treated very inconsistently. This ranges from to an ambitious target of 20GW by 2030 in Scotland….to a de-facto ban in England.

Despite polling consistently showing that it is popular, the near decade long restriction in England, which has seen the industry grind to a halt, has cost UK bill payers an estimated £5.1bn last financial year 2022/23 –£182 for every UK household. The prize is clear, yet there remain several challenges to address to unlock the full potential of onshore wind. This lecture will give an overview of the opportunities and challenges of onshore wind development across the UK, with a special focus on policy, planning and community. We will explore the subtle nuances of planning policy in England which led to the de-facto ban and ask what needs to be done to not only build onshore wind, but to also once again encourage investment in the sector.