Economy: Onshore wind generates up to £906m per year

Posted on 29 Apr 2015 by Callum Bentley

The onshore wind industry generated £906 million in gross value added (GVA) revenue to the UK economy in 2014, according to new figures released by RenewableUK.

Since the beginning of 2012, GVA has risen by £358 million (up 65%) – revealing the increasing contribution that the onshore wind industry and its supply chain makes to the UK economy.

The report, undertaken by BiGGAR Economics for RenewableUK, shows that the economic benefits of developing onshore wind are strongly felt in the UK, with each megawatt of onshore wind installed bringing in more than £2 million to the UK over its lifetime, and 69% of the industry’s total spend remaining in the UK (or 69% “UK content”).

The report also reveals that, on average, 27% of the economic benefits of onshore wind are enjoyed in the local authority area around each project, reflecting the efforts of many developers to engage in initiatives to maximise and promote local supply chain and employment opportunities. The local level of content has increased in each stage of wind farm development between 2011 and 2014, reflecting developers’ commitment to ensure benefits are spent locally.

Wind turbines
The report states that almost half the total spend on onshore wind projects is retained in the region in which a wind farm is located. 

The largest percentage of local spend comes at the operations and maintenance stage with 42% of the value of contracts (compared to 29% in 2011) being spent in the local area. On a wider level, almost half of the total spend is retained in the region in which a wind farm is located (48%), with this highest at the development stage (59%) and operation and maintenance (58%). It is lowest during the construction stage (36%); however, this typically lasts for less than two years. Even when initial expenditure does occur overseas, some of it ultimately returns to the UK when British companies are involved in the supply chain (for example, some supplying components to turbine manufacturers based outside the UK).

RenewableUK’s chief executive, Maria McCaffery, said, “The British onshore wind energy industry is adding over £900 million a year to the national economy, so the benefits to the UK are clear to see. This report also shows that £7 of every £10 spent on onshore wind projects is invested here in the UK. Onshore wind powers local economies, bringing £199 million of investment into the local communities that host wind farms and creating jobs across the supply chain. The industry is helping to propel Britain to a brighter, cleaner and more secure future – onshore wind is already the lowest cost of all low carbon options and is set to become the least cost form of all electricity within the next five years.

“Despite these facts, onshore wind projects are under threat from misguided Tory and UKIP policies aimed at stifling their development, blatantly disregarding rational economic evidence and consistently high levels of public support.”

Dale Vince, Ecotricity founder, said: “Renewable UK have produced a very useful report, for the first time putting hard numbers on the local benefits that wind energy brings. This shows clearly that not only is wind power decentralised in terms of its location and connection to the grid, but its economic benefits are decentralised, too – they are shared in a way that we just don’t see in non-renewable technologies. We won’t see fracking, for example, provide anything like 27% of its economic benefits to local communities. It’s another one of the wonderful things that wind energy brings – couple this with polls consistently showing its popularity among British people, and you have to wonder why on earth the Conservatives are intent on ending it.”