U.K. under fire from wind industry over plan to end subsidies 

Source: By Jim Pickard, Financial Times • Posted: Monday, June 22, 2015

The United Kingdom’s government announced this week that it would end onshore wind power subsidies one year ahead of schedule.

The Renewable Obligation subsidy for new onshore wind farms will close by April 2016, Energy Secretary Amber Rudd said. Once the Renewable Obligation subsidies end, companies will have to compete for limited subsidies. The wind industry has threatened to sue if legislation to end the subsidies passes.

Rudd said up to 5.2 gigawatts of energy capacity could be given a grace period if they are projects already approved and connected to the grid. To receive a grace period, projects will need to provide evidence of land rights.

Government officials say the United Kingdom is set to reach its emissions reduction goals. In 2014, about $1.3 billion was invested in onshore wind power. About 5,000 turbines are built or are in the process of being built, while an additional 3,000 have been approved.

“We have a long-term plan to keep the lights on and our homes warm, power the economy with cleaner energy and keep bills as low as possible for hard-working families,” said Rudd. “We want to help technologies stand on their own two feet, not encourage a reliance on public subsidies. Onshore wind is an important part of our energy mix, and we now have enough subsidized projects in the pipeline to meet our renewable energy commitments.”

Fergus Ewing, Scotland’s energy secretary, criticized the new legislation, saying that ending the subsidies early could put the industry at risk and lead to more expensive energy bills.

“We have warned the U.K. government that the decision, which appears irrational, may well be the subject of a judicial review,” Ewing said.