United Kingdom: Government cuts onshore subsidy from 2016

The Renewables Obligation (RO) wind subsidy for onshore projects will be halted in 2016 under plans released by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc). This is a year earlier than planned.

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Decc said a grace period will allow some projects in advanced development to proceed. Up to 5.2GW would be eligible under the grace period, but it is unlikely this total will be realised. Projects will be eligible if they have construction consent, a grid connection offer and acceptance, as well as evidence of land rights, according to Decc.

The ongoing feed-in tariff will continue for small community projects, but it is unclear if onshore projects will still be able to bid in the autumn auction for contracts for difference, the subsidy replacing ROs.

The ruling Conservative Party made a manifesto pledge in May's general election to "halt the spread of onshore wind farms".

Energy minister Amber Rudd said the UK has "enough subsidised projects in the pipeline to meet renewable energy commitments", which is to produce 15% of energy from renewables. A recent European Commission report said the UK will fail to meet renewable energy targets.

Slamming the door

RenewableUK CEO Maria McCaffery accused the government of "slamming the door" on onshore wind: "The government's decision to end prematurely financial support for onshore wind sends a chilling signal not just to the renewable energy industry, but to all investors right across the UK's infrastructure sectors."

The Confederation of British Industry deputy director-general, Katja Hall, said: "This is a blow, not just to the industry, and could damage our reputation as a good place to invest in energy infrastructure."

Much of the UK's onshore wind capacity and pipeline is in Scotland. Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing said the UK government's decision was deeply regrettable and would disproportionately affect Scotland.

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