Scotland's first subsidy-free onshore windfarm to be operational by 2020
A 46MW onshore windfarm in Dumfries and Galloway, in south-west Scotland, has joined the race to become the first in the country to become operational without the support of Government subsidies.
Independent Scottish developer Muirhall Energy is working with WWS Renewables to start construction of the 46MW Crossdykes Wind Farm and is expected to start producing power in September 2020.
The timeframe means it could become Scotland’s first subsidy-free onshore wind project. Earlier this year, Greencoat UK Wind agreed to buy the 45MW Douglas West onshore wind project near Lanark in Scotland from Blue Energy, which is also being constructed without the support of government subsidies. Commission for that project is currently scheduled for July 2021.
Scotland’s Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands said: “I am delighted that Muirhall Energy has reached financial close on their 46MW Crossdykes development, and are in the race to be the first subsidy-free onshore wind development in Scotland, with construction beginning today.
“This is a landmark moment for onshore wind in Scotland, in fulfilling a key policy objective we set within Scotland’s Energy Strategy, and I very much hope this will be followed by many more similar developments as we seek to address the climate emergency.”
Muirhall Energy and WWS Renewables reached financial close in August, with Close Brothers Leasing the funding the scheme. The project was agreed despite onshore wind projects being ineligible for competing for new power contracts under the Contracts for Difference (CfD) auctions.
Previous onshore projects were, however, able to be accredited through the Renewables Obligation (RO) scheme, which expired in April last year. The anticipated closure of the RO scheme drove record levels on onshore installations in 2017, according to industry body RenewableUK.
A report from the organisation noted that more than 2,600MW of onshore wind capacity came online in 2017. The added onshore wind capacity in 2017 is valued at £7.7bn, of which £5.3bn is retained in the UK.
The UK Government has unveiled plans to add between 1GW to 2GW of renewable wind power annually throughout the 2020s, and, for the first time, remote island wind providers are eligible to bid for contracts at the next CfD auctions.
For the Crossdykes Wind Farm, the 10 turbines will be supplied by Nordex. Muirhall Energy has also offered the local community the chance to purchase a community share offer of up to 10% of the total project.
Muirhall Energy’s managing director Chris Walker said: “We are delighted to be starting construction on what will be one of the first subsidy-free developments to come online in the UK. That is testament to the work we have done as a company, but also the flexibility shown by all our partners as we finalised our plans for the project.
“However, access to the Contract for Difference or some other support mechanism would make a huge difference to the economics of the sector, encouraging the build-out of some of the more challenging consented sites, therefore ensuring onshore wind makes the biggest possible contribution to meeting our net-zero climate change targets whilst keeping bills down for consumers.”