The future of wind power in the UK is now likely to move offshore, with the government announcing that it is to increase funding for the technology while cutting incentives available to onshore farms.
While onshore wind power and solar production are both set to be negatively affected in the shakeup announced by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the moves have been welcomed by the Renewable Energy Association (REA).
£40bn of investment confirmed in renewables
The news will see the government make some £40 billion worth of investment in the renewables sector, with offshore wind farms being the big winner.
The money will come into the sector between 2014 and 2019, and Energy Secretary Ed Davey said it will serve to help the UK as a whole meet its target of 30% renewable electricity production by 2020.
“This package will deliver record levels of investment in green energy by 2020,” he said.
“Our reforms are succeeding in attracting investors from around the world so Britain can replace our ageing power station and keep the lights on.”
Offshore farms received the biggest boost in strike prices, after the government confirmed this will remain at £140/MWh in 2014-19, rather than falling to £135/MWh as previously planned
Geothermal and hydro-electric schemes were also given a boost, but some technologies such as onshore wind and large solar arrays had their strike prices lowered by ministers.
Onshore wind farms represent the biggest loser, with strike prices falling by £5/MWh each year. It will mean they fall to 95/MWh in 2014-15, instead of £100/MWh. Prices will then drop to £90/MWh in 2016-19.
Changes ‘good for renewables’
One leading organisation promoting the use of renewables has praised the government for the changes it is now looking to bring in.
The REA moved to point out that the fact investment levels in solar and onshore technologies are going down is not necessarily the bad news it may seem to be.
Dr Nina Skorupska said: “Today is actually a good news day for renewable electricity and renewable heat.
“The real reason that support for solar and onshore wind will go down is that they are leading the race for cost-competitiveness with fossil fuels.”
Paul Barwell, chief executive of the Solar Trade Association (STA) largely agreed: “The announcements today show good support for solar after 2015. The strike prices clearly show this is a technology on track to compete with fossil fuel prices.”