Around 2,000 jobs could be created every year up to 2050 in Wales, and €2.7 billion injected into the Welsh economy, if the Welsh government target for 2,000 MW of onshore wind capacity by 2025 is met, a new report by RenewableUK – an industry body – and the Welsh government claims.
However, if approval rates for onshore wind farms continue at the same pace as they have from 2001-2011, the total contribution to the Welsh economy would fall to €1 billion with only 1,000 jobs created per year.
“Without a significant shift in the consenting rate, and in the overall approach of planning policy in Wales to this sector, we will continue to be held hostage by rising fossil fuel prices and we will fail to meet our renewable energy ambitions with a corresponding missed opportunity to generate livelihoods for more than 2,000 people in Wales,” David Clubb, Director of RenewableUK Cymru, said.
Meeting the 2,000 MW target requires an average of 120 MW new capacity per year up until 2025, but during the 2001-2011 period only 27 MW per year won consent – at that rate by 2025 there would only be 800 MW online. In 2012 however, rates improved with 86 MW being consented – at this pace the 2025 total would still only be 1,560 MW.
The report says that most of the jobs would arise in construction and manufacturing, but the benefits would be spread across a range of sectors as a result of the wind energy supply chain, and spending by the people employed in wind.
Wales currently has 420 MW of onshore wind in operation and there are enough wind energy projects in the planning pipeline to meet the government target as long as wind farms win consent.
Smooth wind farm consenting processes are not just an issue in Wales. Planning permission is often hotly contested by wind energy opponents in the UK, and EWEA has long argued that wind farm planning should be stream-lined and sped-up. Read our report – Wind Barriers – here.