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Onshore renewables could inject £28.9bn into UK economy with greater government support

Image: Getty.

Image: Getty.

A green recovery from COVID-19 could be delivered through increased support for onshore renewables, according to investor Thrive Renewables.

Its analysis found that there is a £66.5 billion potential investment opportunity for the UK between now and 2035, breaking down to £4.75 billion per year.

This could deliver 45,000 new jobs and boost the UK economy by £28.9 billion by 2035, helping to deliver a green recovery.

It is recommending two actions the government should implement “urgently” to help deliver this. Firstly, there should be greater policy stability for the technologies, with Thrive stating that the current market fundamentals have been “skewed by a complicated cocktail of legacy interventions”.

With onshore renewables being the only generation class entirely reliant on selling electricity on the open market, the government must demonstrate “clear support” through long-term, simple energy policies allowing investment decisions to be based on fundamentals, Thrive said.

It went on to detail how certainty is preferable over mechanisms, citing the Contracts for Difference scheme, which it described as price stabilising.

Matthew Clayton, managing director of Thrive Renewables, said that by providing this certainty and creating a “more positive environment for onshore renewables”, the government could unleash “huge private sector investment” and create thousands of jobs, with Thrive finding that 45,000 new jobs could be created. Of these, 22,800 could be created in solar PV.

Secondly, Thrive recommended that the government remove planning blockers for onshore wind, highlighting requirements for onshore wind to be developed within an area designated for wind development by the local authority.

These areas are designated with local plans, many of which have not been updated since the requirement came in in 2015 due to their lifecycle being up to 30 years, Thrive continued.

Conversely, battery storage this week had a significant planning barrier removed, with secondary legislation passing to allow battery storage to bypass the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project process in Britain.

Thrive also highlighted how repowering existing solar and onshore wind sites could stimulate the expansion of renewables, citing the costs benefits to repowering over building a new asset.

Sites that have reached the end of their lives should have their old wind or solar technology replaced with the latest turbines or panels, which Thrive said would be both quicker and cheaper.

"We don’t need to reinvent the wheel or – in this case – the wind turbine and solar panel. UK renewables have enormous potential that can be unlocked, fast. We already have what we need: abundant natural resources, proven technology, lowest ever costs and the right skills," Clayton added.

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