UK wind farms becoming smaller, report shows

The average generation capacity of UK onshore wind farms that are gaining planning permission is declining and more schemes are being approved at appeal, according to trade body Renewable UK.

Wind farms: report shows those gaining permission are smaller
Wind farms: report shows those gaining permission are smaller

In its annual state of the industry report, which analyses industry data from July 2012 to June 2013, the body notes that the average size of a project gaining planning permission in the UK is now 11MW, down from 14MW last year.

Projects up to 5MW now comprise two-thirds of wind projects going into the planning system across the UK, up from just over half in 2011/12. This reflects interest in the Feed-in-Tariff (FIT) financial incentive, the report states.

Though the FIT has been available for this size of scheme since 2010, wind projects take a relatively long time to go through the planning system, according to Maf Smith, deputy chief executive of Renewable UK. "It has taken a few years for the sub 5MW market to show through in figures," he said.

In Scotland, the number of projects approved has increased, but the total amount of energy generation capacity consented has reduced, as projects submitted for planning become smaller.

The average size of scheme submitted for planning fell to just over 13MW, compared to last year’s average of 21MW.

Only in England, where approvals measured by both capacity of the wind farm and number of projects have increased, has the average size of project increased, from 6.2MW in 2011/12 to 7.7MW in 2012/13, the report states.

The data also shows an increase in approval rates for onshore wind farms at appeal, particularly in England. In 2011/12, 41 per cent of projects were approved at appeal, but this rose to 70 per cent in 2012/13.

Smith said: "This indicates that the industry is putting forward projects based on what the planning system says it wants."

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