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Wind planning decisions are being made more positively and more quickly

November 01, 2012

As the Renewables Industry gathers in Gaia-Wind’s home town of Glasgow, Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond has announced a new target of half of Scotland's electricity demand to be met from renewable energy by 2015.

We are just weeks away from an important UK energy bill so we need to be clear about where renewables, and particularly the use of wind turbines as alternative energy sources stands.

Ed Davey’s positive comments and strong leadership as the Minister responsible for renewable energy strategy are to be welcomed and even John Hayes, addressing the renewableUK conference talked up the need for investor confidence.

So where are we in the onshore wind arena?

There was a 15% increase in approval rates for onshore wind schemes below 50MW this year compared to last year across the UK. The effect of this is demonstrated most significantly in England, where capacity approvals at the local level increased by 60% compared to last year:

  • Planning decisions are also becoming quicker at every level;
    • Local Authority approvals were 10% quicker than last year;
    • National Government approvals were 19% quicker than last year; and at appeal;
    • The UK saw a 54% improvement over last year;
  • Overall, onshore capacity approval rose by just under 50% compared to last year. *renewableUK state of the industry report 2012

Basically, this means that Wind planning decisions are being made more positively and more quickly.

This welcome trend is coupled with continued strong support for wind energy, with two thirds of the population in favour of continued development of wind energy.

In Gaia-Wind’s neck of the woods, farm scale turbines, we have different issues from large scale and even from medium wind. 

The nature of the engagement by our customers, while clearly considered as an investment, also involves lifestyle and aspirational issues. A small wind turbine at the end of a farm lane, or in the grounds of a large rural home is by definition, not a windfarm. We are finding that many of our turbine owners are working towards what we might call energy independence. They are finding ways of using the energy their turbine generates around the home, farm or business.

This looks increasingly canny set against the relentless energy price rises in the past and those forecast for the future. Some reports suggest that a Utilities’ energy price of 16 or 17p per unit is not too far off. These kind of figures, taken with the good
progress on planning make “distributed wind” a very attractive prospect.


By Johnnie Andringa

 



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