Scotland's subsidy-free wind farm

Scottish energy developer Muirhall energy will commence construction today (2 September) of a new onshore wind farm in Dumfries and Galloway in south-western Scotland. The project is expected to have a 46MW capacity upon its completion in 2020. The project will not be granted any government subsidies, due to the Government’s decision not to allow onshore wind farm projects to compete for its Contracts for Difference scheme. This decision, enacted in 2015, has been the subject of debate and has prompted calls from environmental activism groups, energy providers and MPs for the Government to do away with the ban on onshore wind subsidies, reported on here. Managing Director of Muirhall Energy, Chris Walker has said that despite the subsidy-free nature of Muirhall’s new Crossdykes wind farm, more access to the Contracts for Difference scheme would aid the economics of the sector and encourage other businesses with less secure private finance to help the onshore wind market grow.

The company has used partnerships with other private groups to fund the project. WWS Renewables has worked closely on the project’s planning, and Nordex has supplied turbines. Close Brothers Leasing has agreed to fund the project as well. Further, Muirhall will offer the local community in Dumfries and Galloway the opportunity to buy shares in the wind farm of up to 10 per cent.

Muirhall and the other partners involved in the project hope that the wind farm will encourage the Government to reconsider its position on onshore wind. Paul Wheelhouse, the Scottish Government Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands has claimed that the Scottish Government is in support of onshore wind and that “a price-stabilisation mechanism would allow far more onshore wind projects like Crossdykes to be fully realised, and allow more consumers access to the cheapest form of electricity generation at scale. UK Government must re-consider the exclusion of ‘established technologies’ from the Contract for Difference auctions framework in order to deliver the significant benefits onshore wind can offer.” Patxi Landa, Chief Sales Officer and Board Member of Nordex has stated that the lack of government financial support shows that even in the private sector, wind power can provide competitive, cheap low-carbon energy to the UK.

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