Wind power developers are building new onshore projects in the UK, despite the government’s cancellation of subsidies in 2015.

This is highlighted by the news that renewables developer and consultancy Dulas has won agreements for met mast installation from four major firms: SSE, Innogy, E.ON and Brookfield Renewable UK.

The agreements will see Dulas carry out detailed site assessments, construction programme design and calibration of anemometers and other measurement instruments. Dulas said it will also be responsible for installation, maintenance and eventual decommissioning of the masts, which will be sited across the UK.  

As part of the installation work, Dulas said it will examine site locations consistent with desktop studies carried out by the developer’s wind yield team as well as those proposed by the client, before advising on the best location for the masts.

After planning permission is received, Dulas will help each developer to choose the mast instrumentation that best fits the needs of both developer and the project itself. The instrumentation will then be calibrated and tested at Dulas’s facilities, with a data link to be established with the developer’s operations.

Alistair Marsden, director at Dulas, said that “while the past couple of years have seen a number of developers pause on new site development following the removal of government support for the onshore wind sector, it’s clear that a significant number are returning to projects with the renewed possibility of financing from power purchase agreements (PPAs).”

In a recent study, nonprofit group the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit found that power from 1 GW of new-build onshore windfarms would cost £30m ($41m) less per year than power from new-build offshore wind capacity.

Onshore wind power would cost £100m less than power from new nuclear or biomass plants, the study said, and can be built at a cost of below £50/MWh – cheaper than the forecast £66/MWh for gas-fired power.

“This would make onshore wind ‘subsidy free’ even when additional costs relating to intermittent generation are included,” the ECIU said.

However, continuing the onshore wind ban could cost the UK £1bn over four to five years, the study found.

Engineering consultancy Arup has confirmed these numbers, finding in its own report that onshore windfarms could be delivered for a maximum of £50-55/MWh over 15 years.

Both consultancies have urged the UK government to include onshore wind in its Contract for Difference (CfD) framework, as has business and technology consultancy Baringa Partners, which delivered yet a third report for windfarm developer and operator ScottishPower Renewables.

Lindsay McQuade, ScottishPower Renewables’ policy and innovation director, said the study “reinforce[s] that onshore wind can make a significant contribution” to the UK’s Industrial Strategy. “At these kinds of prices, the technology can continue to play a key role in cutting carbon emissions whilst keeping bills down for businesses and households. It can also secure inward investment and jobs across the country and drive the renewal of our ageing energy infrastructure.

“However, the report also shows that we will only deliver those benefits at scale if onshore wind and other mature renewables are able to bid again for long-term contracts for clean electricity generation.”

Arup said its report “clearly shows that access to a market framework, designed to reduce risk and provide a level playing field with gas generation, would enable onshore wind to continue delivering cheap electricity to households and businesses across the UK – some £40/MWh cheaper than new nuclear against the proposed strike price cap of £50-£55/MWh. This relative saving would increase in an auction as investors would compete to secure a contract – making it even cheaper.”