Belfast Telegraph

Scotland's turbines lead way to harness onshore power

By Emily Beament

Northern Ireland's wind turbines were out-blown by their Scottish counterparts during 2014, when a total of £1.25bn was invested in the industry UK-wide.

Industry body RenewableUK's annual report found Scotland was leading on onshore wind, with 60% of projects now installed in Scotland and generating a higher turnover than England, Wales and Northern Ireland combined.

The figures come after Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell last week revealed the current subsidy system for onshore wind energy in Northern Ireland will end next April. More than half of the construction of onshore wind farms is taking place in Scotland and 70% of new consents for schemes are in the country, while only 25% of construction and less than 10% of consents for projects are in England.

But England is forging ahead with offshore wind, especially among coastal communities, the report said.

According to the report, which comes after Government moves to curb subsidies for renewables including onshore wind, the wind industry supports 30,500 jobs, including 15,500 jobs directly in the industry and 15,078 which are indirectly supported by it.

And £1.25bn was invested into the UK because of wind energy in the past financial year, with a £402m turnover for UK companies involved in onshore wind and £840m spent in the UK on offshore wind.

But a survey for the report among the industry body's members found that almost three-quarters (73%) felt the investment climate was less favourable than in the previous 18 months, and 42% expected to reduce investment.

Nearly 90% of companies said Government policy was less favourable to renewables, compared to less than a quarter (23%) in 2011.

RenewableUK's chief executive Maria McCaffery said: "We hope this report will serve as a wake-up call to Government, proving that the wind industry is delivering a substantial amount of clean power, investment and jobs to Britain - despite mixed messages from ministers."

Belfast Telegraph

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