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How the wind power market is evolving

Post-subsidy, wind power is here to stay and, as Mike Reid reports, landowners and communities are embracing onshore development.

Throughout the ages new technologies and ideas have been embraced by some although they haven’t always been successful. But once a new idea succeeds, confidence grows and more people become involved. 

On-shore wind farms are following this pattern. Initially this was led by developers incentivised by the renewable Obligation scheme who tackled the uncertainty of planning consent, grid connection, turbine reliability and often local opposition. The risks were great but so were the rewards.

Looking back, these initial developments are now seen as very profitable, but this tends to ignore the schemes that developers weren’t able to progress or were rejected for one reason or another.  

However, without this initial incentive to develop on-shore wind farms the industry wouldn’t be where it is today. 

As reported in Energy Matters issue 18 there is renewed interest in on-shore wind farm development across Scotland, with larger turbines being proposed to maximise electricity production – a welcome change from developments looking to maximise subsidy payments. 

Whereas there is less profitability now due to the end of subsidy support, landowners and local communities are generally far more comfortable with the principle of on-shore wind farm development as confidence grows in the sector. 

Increasing numbers of landowners and communities are looking to become actively involved in renewable development projects rather than just leasing land for a developer to take the risks and rewards. Of course, some landowners will still prefer to just lease out their land and some communities will be happy to receive community benefit payments rather than being actively involved. 

Joint ventures may become the preferred structure for wind farm developments for those that want to take an active role in any development affecting their land or community. 

As confidence grows in the sector alongside technological improvements and cost reductions there will be opportunities for all involved. The demand for renewable electricity looks set to increase as the preferred source of power for a sustainable future.