RenewableUK has warned that the UK government’s net zero target is at risk, as new statistics show a continued drop in onshore wind projects.
This is "mainly because Government policy does not currently support the development" of new projects, it said.
The trade association released statistics showing that of the 23 projects that became operational in 2019, only one hadn’t received financial support under the Renewable Obligation, feed-in tariff and Contracts for Difference (CfD) schemes, introduced during the coalition government and since scrapped.
RenewableUK’s head of policy and regulation Rebecca Williams said the figures highlight that the current approach is "falling short on delivering renewable energy capacity at the level needed for net zero".
"This is a flashing red warning light on our net zero dashboard and we urgently need a new strategy from government."
Just 629MW of onshore wind came online last year, from 4 projects in England, 4 in Wales, 6 in Northern Ireland and 9 in Scotland. This shows a marked drop from 2018, when 651MW was installed, from 91 projects.
The government removed subsidies for onshore wind in 2015, and subsequently barred the technology from CfDs. This has led to a consistent decline in the number of onshore wind farms being installed.
Solar was a another technology blocked from the CfDs, a move which has also been highly criticised. The Committee on Climate Change has called for a route to market to be created and Energy UK has urged the government to allow solar back into the CfD.
In 2017 there was a record high installation of onshore wind of 2,683MW, when 343 projects started generating as developers rushed to qualify for government support.
With the coalition government policies now completely finished, the current government’s policy led to just four new turbines being built in England last year.
No projects received approval in Wales in 2019, and just 3 turbines totalling 1.9MW did in England. Only one project was submitted to the planning system, with a capacity of 5MW.
“As Ministers get down to work at the start of a new decade, we need to see new policies which support the full range of clean power sources to transform our energy system," Williams added.
This research by RenewableUK follows the Committee on Climate Change advising the government that onshore wind will have to increase from 13GW now to 35GW by 2035 if the UK hopes to meet its 2050 net zero goal.
In November, RenewableUK’s Project Intelligence team showed that the UK is currently on track to miss its net zero target by as much as 40%, owing to onshore wind's installed capacity having stalled at 13.5GW.