Monday, 1 June 2015

Urgent! Write now to your MP to urge them to stop the Government's windfarm massacre!

As you have no doubt seen in the press, the Government has announced that it is pressing ahead with plans to stop incentives being paid to onshore wind. The cutting edge of the current threat is to 'close' the Renewables Obligation (RO) to new windfarms from April 2016. Currently many windfarms are planned to be installed in the final year of incentives being available for wind power (2016-2017), so this action will waste a lot of cheap low carbon energy. RenewableUK, the trade body representing wind power, has threatened to take legal action against the Government over this issue. We can support them by writing to our MPs to urge the Government not to scrap incentives for onshore wind.

We need to write to our MPs to stress how important it is to keep funding onshore wind not just until 2017 under the RO but also in the longer term through the continued issue of what are called long term power purchase agreements (PPAs). These include so-called 'contracts for difference' (CfDs) being issued under Electricity Market reform (which replaces the RO). Renewable energy sources need PPAs. Unlike fossil fuels, most of the costs of the the schemes come when they are installed, meaning that investors need long term guarantees about prices of sales of electricity produced.

It is truly an absurd sight seeing DECC Secretary Amber Rudd swanning off to Paris to pronounce about how much our Government is keen on reducing carbon emissions when at home it is effectively banning new onshore windfarms. Ironically they are one of the few of its energy policies that is actually being implemented in pursuit of its much proclaimed 'decarbonisation' strategy. The Government is failing to get either carbon capture and storage (CCS) or nuclear power stations built. So what is it doing? Why, making a priority of stopping a major solution - onshore windfarms - that are most easily deployed! Currently there are over 5GW of onshore windfarms, that is over 3 per cent of UK electricity generation, that has planning consent but will not be built if incentives are cut off for onshore windfarms from 2016.

Onshore windfarms are the cheapest widely available low carbon energy source. It is important to stress this. It is not widely reported, but the way the RO is structured now means that windfarm operators will get no more than around £80 per MWh for 20 years if they set up in April 2016, and after that just the wholesale electricity price (currently under £50 per MWh) afterwards. Compare this with what is now worth around £94 per MWh for 35 years that is being offered to EDF for Hinkley C with a £10 billion loan guarantee thrown in!

So, it is very important that windfarm supporters urgently write to their MPs to try to stop this piece of ecological vandalism.

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