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UK surpasses 15GW milestone in onshore wind energy

RenewableUK hails a significant achievement in the UK's renewable energy landscape as the nation crosses the 15-gigawatt mark in onshore wind capacity. This milestone underscores the country's commitment to clean energy and its progress toward a sustainable future.

The milestone was marked by the commissioning of EDF Renewables UK's West Benhar onshore wind farm in North Lanarkshire, boasting a capacity of 30.1 megawatts spread across seven turbines. With this addition, the UK now boasts a total onshore wind capacity of 15.002 gigawatts, distributed across 2,631 projects. This remarkable advancement reflects a substantial leap from the modest beginnings of the UK's first commercial wind farm in 1991, underscoring the nation's dedication to renewable energy growth.

Matthieu Hue, Chief Executive of EDF Renewables UK, emphasized the pivotal role of onshore wind in the UK's journey towards achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The West Benhar wind farm exemplifies collaborative efforts between industry stakeholders and local communities, with millions invested in contracts with Scottish and UK companies for its construction. Over £4.5 million will be reinvested into the local community over the wind farm's operational lifespan, highlighting the tangible benefits brought by renewable energy projects.

“Opening West Benhar wind farm in recent weeks is a positive step to realising the country’s ambitions. We have worked closely with the local supply chain and communities throughout the project, investing millions in contracts with Scottish and UK companies to construct the wind farm. Over £4.5million will be re-invested back into the local community over the wind farm’s lifespan. It is a great reminder of the huge positive impact brought by onshore wind farm investments to the UK,” said Hue.

While Scotland leads the charge with 63% of the UK's onshore wind capacity, England lags behind due to regulatory constraints imposed since 2015. However, there is optimism for future growth, with calls for an ambitious UK-wide target of 30 gigawatts of onshore wind by 2030.

RenewableUK's Head of Policy, James Robottom, emphasized the importance of maximizing clean energy auctions to drive local economic growth and expand the renewable energy supply chain. “"We're urging the Government to set an ambitious UK-wide target of 30 gigawatts of onshore wind by 2030, so that we can maximise the economic benefits of this technology throughout the country. Our research shows this would boost the economy by £45 billion and create 27,000 jobs. We need to accelerate the build out of new projects in areas where local communities support onshore wind if we're to double our capacity by the end of the decade and get closer to the Government’s net zero target,” he said.

Despite challenges in England's planning system, RenewableUK remains steadfast in its advocacy for policy reforms to facilitate onshore wind development in areas with community support. Unlocking green growth potential could stimulate economic prosperity and foster broader community participation in the renewable energy transition.

As the UK aims to install 35 gigawatts of onshore wind by 2035, achievements like the West Benhar wind farm serve as a beacon of progress, reaffirming the nation's position as a global leader in clean energy innovation and sustainability.


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