A report by Thrive Renewables shows that ‘Shovel-ready’ renewable energy projects could boost the UK economy by £28.9 billion.
In the energy investment firm’s report, the Committee on Climate Change suggests the UK government “will need a three-fold increase in generation capacity to meet net-zero targets”.
Trade bodies for onshore wind energy, solar energy and hydro energy are suggesting that, between them, these onshore renewables can generate 77GW of the required growth by 2035.
This could boost the UK economy by £28.9 billion. However, this will require building sites of onshore renewable energy with a capacity of 5.5GW annually.
Renewable energy Planning restrictions
The National Planning Policy Framework states that new onshore wind applications must prove to planners that the renewable energy project is situated within an area designated for wind development.
As the lifecycle of local plans can be up to 30 years, this has prevented many plans from being updated since this requirement was put in place in 2015, according to the report.
This requirement automatically blocks new planning permissions for onshore wind projects in England. By removing this planning requirement, the UK Government could release investment in renewable energy and lower energy bills. Not only this, but they can also provide a cleaner energy supply to UK consumers and businesses.
There is also no uniform approach to life extension and repowering, which has the potential to generate clean power cheaply, by using modern infrastructure. The report says potential developers find a no uniform approach to planning too risky, leaving many unable to justify the business case for the implantation of repowering.
“The Government must demonstrate clear support by delivering long-term, simple energy policies that allow investment decisions to be based on fundamentals,” the report states.
Repowering is a golden opportunity for the expansion of renewables in the UK
In their report, Thrive Renewables states: “Another opportunity to stimulate the expansion of renewables is to enable existing sites to be upgraded – “repowered” – with new and more advanced technology”.
Delivering A Green Recovery with UK Renewable Power also explores new ways to revive renewable energy sites after their operating expectancy of 25-30 years.
Rather than closing the sites of wind and solar energy after their operating, the report suggests replacing the old wind technology with the latest turbines. For onshore wind, this can result in fewer wind turbines with greater productivity and solar panels should be replaced with the latest technology for greater solar energy production.
Repowering is much more productive and cheaper than building on new sites because it is faster to develop as the infrastructure is already there, such as access to roads and grid connections.
Thrive Renewables owns Caton Moor, their onshore wind site in Lancashire, UK. The site was repowered in 2006. Eight new wind turbines replaced the previous 10, generating seven times the wind power. Caton Moor wind farm is now supplying more efficient clean energy to UK consumers.
Combining repowering and building new onshore renewable energy sites could potentially bring much-needed growth to the UK renewable energy sector, the report suggests.
What is most exciting is that it will bring the UK closer to reaching the goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.