Onshore wind is a key piece of the diverse blend of renewable energy sources and technologies needed to replace fossil fuels, writes TJ Hunter, Ørsted’s Senior Director of Onshore Energy for the UK and Ireland.
At Ørsted, we’re a renewable energy company with a clear vision: to create a world that runs entirely on green energy.
To truly achieve that will require a diverse blend of renewable energy sources and technologies to balance energy generation both when the wind is blowing and the sun is shining in different parts of the country – and when it’s not.
That means incorporating a mix of green energy sources such as onshore and offshore wind, solar power, renewable hydrogen, and battery storage – as well as the grid infrastructure to support it.
Onshore wind is an essential piece of the green energy puzzle if we want to create a truly balanced and sustainable system – and reach the ambitious net-zero targets governments have set.
That’s why at Ørsted, we are committed to working with the government and local communities in Scotland and the rest of the UK to deliver it.
Onshore wind: An unlimited, renewable resource
Onshore wind is an unlimited, renewable, and cost-effective source of green energy which can be deployed relatively quickly and is complementary to the other technologies mentioned.
More of it is needed to meet the aspiring net-zero targets that have been set by both the Scottish and UK governments – and to help shore-up energy security in the wake of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Scotland has set a goal for net-zero emissions of all greenhouse gases by 2045. It’s an ambitious target – and is five years ahead of the UK goal of 2050 for net-zero.
However, with 9 GW of onshore wind currently operational, Scotland is already well on its way to reach the Scottish government’s goal of 20 GW of installed onshore wind capacity by 2030.
Scotland leading the way
First Minister Humza Yousaf reiterated the Scottish government’s commitment to onshore wind with his pledge to speed up the consenting process for onshore wind farms in his first Programme for Government in early September.
Yousaf pledged to work with the industry on a deal that would halve the consenting time for new projects to 12 months where there is no public inquiry.
The Scottish government’s commitment to reduce some of the barriers to onshore development is very encouraging and another sign of their positive engagement with the industry and leadership in decarbonisation.
Onshore wind in Scotland received another lift from the UK’s Contracts for Difference Allocation Round 5 (AR 5) earlier this month as well. With nearly 1.5 GW of onshore wind capacity awarded, Scotland was a big winner.
All but one out of the 24 onshore wind farms awarded contracts is based in Scotland. (The one wind farm outside of Scotland is based in Wales).
While the fact that no offshore wind projects were awarded contracts in the government’s annual renewable energy auction is a massive setback for the industry and the UK’s overall net-zero goals, it also draws attention to the urgent need for a varied mix of renewable energy sources to replace fossil fuels.
Onshore wind has a key part to play in that mix, just like solar and offshore wind, if we are to meet the UK's ambitious target of net-zero emissions by 2050.
While the UK government recently proposed adjustments to the wording of footnote 54 in the National Planning Policy Framework, which had effectively banned the development of onshore wind in England since 2015, the changes still don’t materially impact its preclusion. They are unlikely to encourage developer investment for onshore wind in England.
And this is despite the fact that a majority of the UK public – 78 percent – supports onshore wind, according to the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) Public Attitudes Tracker for Spring 2023. Just 5 percent of the public oppose onshore wind, according to the tracker.
Delivering more than green energy
At Ørsted, we’re conscious that you have to work very closely with local communities to develop projects that work for everybody.
Our ambition is to help foster thriving communities that can share the benefits of the green transition through skills training and long-term job opportunities.
That’s why we work with locals to work on the design of our wind farms to optimise the project both from an efficiency and cost-effective perspective, but also from a community perspective.
We invest in the future of the local communities where we construct and operate our projects through our community benefit funds, partnerships, support of STEM education, apprenticeships, and jobs training.
We are also working to ensure we make the best use of our resources, finding new ways to re-use, refurbish and re-engineer the materials and components we use in our developments. We are working with the Coalition for Wind Industry Circularity to create a circular supply chain for renewables in Scotland.
So far, we’ve built our first onshore wind farm in Scotland – Kennoxhead Phase 1 – which was completed in 2022 and is 62 MW in size. We also have three other onshore wind farms in Scotland in our development pipeline.
Combined with our large portfolio in Ireland, we operate 420 MW of onshore wind in the UK and Ireland, producing enough green electricity to power more than 275,000 homes.
A diverse blend of green energies
As part of our aim to keep diversifying and balancing different sources of energy generation, we just entered into our first solar project in the UK – the One Earth Solar Farm.
Primarily located in Nottinghamshire and the border of Lincolnshire, the solar farm is being co-developed with PS Renewables.
Once operational the 740 MW solar farm, which will also include battery storage, will generate enough clean, renewable electricity to power up to 200,000 homes, making it one of the largest solar farms in the country.
The solar project is another example of how we are developing a mix of renewable energy sources to help power up the UK with cleaner, cheaper, and more secure energy sources.
As one of the world’s leading renewable energy companies, we want to use all our experience and expertise to help Scotland realise its pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2045.
Together we can develop a diverse blend of onshore renewable energy sources, invest in communities, build skills, and create jobs – all while ensuring positive impacts on nature.