This was inspired by some stats that Stuart put in a comment on my blog post about Shell pulling out of offshore. Stuart, on the question of what the real problem for onshore wind is – you threw me for a day or so with your statistics from the BWEA, good source, hard to argue with. But on closer examination I think you’ve perhaps not read them quite right. The 5GW consented figure is for BOTH off and onshore – split roughly 50/50. So in fact there are about 2.5 GW of consented onshore projects out there of which according to the BWEA about 900 MW (not 500) is being built right now – approaching 40% of the consented total. Not brilliant but not your 10 to 1 ratio. More like 2.5 to 1.
The reason for the delay from consent to construction is well known in the industry. And it’s still the planning system, in this case the way it deals with the discharge of planning conditions – of which wind farms have many. It can take years to clear these conditions and it has to be done before building. That’s mostly why, of 2.5 GW right now, less than 40% is under construction.
Stats confirmed here for anyone interested: http://www.bwea.com/statistics/
Two facts to support my argument about planning: two thirds of all wind projects are refused by District Councils at the planning stage, and two thirds of all appeals are upheld by the government – a lot of bad decisions being overturned, eventually.
And wind energy is the only major generation source that depends for planning on District Councils – the government deals with all others for very good reasons. District councils are not up to the job, on the whole.
If offshore wind had onshore economics and/or onshore wind had offshore planning, we’d be well away. Bolstering offshore will cost hundreds of Millions, bolstering onshore will take some political courage, to give it a planning system fit for purpose. We could spend those hundreds of millions in far more effective ways.