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05 November 2010

Renewables industry puts economic value on wind farm benefits

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Trade body tries to debunk myth that most onshore wind farm investment goes abroad

The onshore wind farm capacity currently locked in the planning system could generate up to £2.3bn for the British economy through job creation, business rates, and increased funding for community activities, if it was given the go-ahead, according to a new study from RenewableUK.

Conducted by research consultancy GL Garrad Hassan, the report entitled Economic Benefits of Onshore Wind, breaks down how wind farm investment has been spread across national, regional and local levels based on data collected from projects that were built in the last 18 months or are currently under construction.

It found that a quarter of the capital project costs is retained in the UK, particularly at a regional level, despite widespread perceptions that the economic benefits are captured by foreign turbine manufacturers. In addition, it found that all of the development costs, and nearly all of the operations costs are spent in the UK.

"People's perception is that it all goes abroad, but actually 25 per cent of civil works and balance of plant is retained in the UK economy," said RenewableUK's economics spokesman Gordon Edge at RenewableUK's annual conference in Glasgow this week.

Edge calculated that a typical 20MW project costing £31.5m to build, would each year generate £1.3m for the local county and £4.2m at a regional level. Moreover, the 7.3GW of onshore projects currently going through planning procedures would generate £2.3bn for the UK economy over their lifetime.

RenewableUK director of communications Charles Anglin said the results demonstrated the urgent need to bring to grant approval to many of the projects stuck planning. RenewableUK argues England alone stands to lose more than £1.3bn in investment if the majority of wind farm planning applications continue to be rejected.


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