Rudd confirms 'early end' to wind farm subsidy

Energy secretary Amber Rudd has outlined plans to bring forward the demise of a key subsidy for the developers of onshore wind farms in a move designed to fulfil a Conservative election manifesto pledge.

Wind energy: government confirms early end to subsidies (picture by steve p2008)
Wind energy: government confirms early end to subsidies (picture by steve p2008)

In a ministerial statement, Rudd said the Renewables Obligation (RO), which requires electricity suppliers to source an increasing proportion of their energy from renewable sources, would close to new onshore schemes from 1 April next year - 12 months earlier than had been planned.

The move would be part of her party's manifesto commitment to "end new subsidies for onshore wind", the statement said.

Her announcement was made in parallel with a ministerial statement from communities secretary Greg Clark, which introduced new rules for local planning authorities on approving onshore wind applications, following a related manifesto pledge to give communities the "final say" on new turbine development.

Rudd said that while primary legislation would be required to change RO eligibly, the government already had the necessary powers to implement its manifesto commitments in relation to Contracts for Difference (CfD) subsidies, which offset the cost of investment in new infrastructure by effectively augmenting the income from power generated.

"The government is committed to meeting objectives on cutting carbon emissions and the UK’s 2020 renewable energy targets," she said.

"Onshore wind has deployed successfully to date and is an important part of our energy mix. We now have enough onshore wind in the pipeline, to be subsidised by bill payers through the Renewable Obligation or Contracts for Difference, for onshore wind to play a significant part in meeting our renewable energy commitments."

Rudd said there would be a grace period giving access to support under the RO to those projects that already had planning consent, a grid connection offer and acceptance, and evidence of land rights for the site on which their project would be built.

She added that it was her intention that final proposals, to be framed in an Energy Bill this parliamentary session, would web applied across Great Britain.

Wind industry trade association RenewableUK said the early end to RO eligibility would jeopardise thousands of jobs and millions of pounds worth of investment.

Chief executive Maria McCaffery said: "If government was really serious about ending subsidy it should be working with industry to help us bring costs down, not slamming the door on the lowest cost option."

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