22 May 2018

First ‘subsidy free’ wind farm to be built in the UK

Construction on a wind farm in the UK is due to commence in what the developers claim is the first project in the country not to require state subsidies.

German company Energieknotor announced it had reached financial close on the Withernwick Extension project, located in Yorkshire, north-east England.

Chief Executive Peter Szabo said the project was a “milestone” and that it was “as far as we know” the first onshore wind farm to manage without subsidies.

The achievement was made thanks to a significant power purchase agreement it has signed with a “global company in the consumer goods industry”.

The deal also “underlines our pioneering role in the quest to realise wind farms and solar parks with a lower levelized cost of electricity than from fossil and nuclear resources.”

The small 8.2 megawatt project will consist of four turbines which will be erected in the first half of 2019. It will sit next to an existing nine turbine wind farm, also operated by Enerkiekontor.

“The financial close for the Withernwick II project shows that our efficiency measures to reduce costs are indeed bearing fruit and that we are already able to implement a wind farm profitably at pure market conditions,” Szabo added.

Onshore wind has faced a difficult few years after the Conservative government sought to stop new projects being built. It has done this through preventing the technology from bidding for government contracts and creating insurmountable hurdles in the planning process.

The claim from Enerkiekontor will be met with a mixed response from the industry as it may persuade the government to maintain its removal of financial support. Despite a frosty period for the technology, new Government ministers have spoken more positively about a future for onshore wind. Energy and Clean Growth Minister, Claire Perry, said last November her department was actively working on plans to allow new projects to come forward, albeit only in Scotland and Wales.

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