Solar rush gone with the wind


The Government’s ongoing review of subsidies for large scale solar farms has prompted renewed interest in wind energy from farmers and landowners looking to cut costs and generate income.

Ministers announced last month that they were planning to slash so Feed in Tariff (FIT) subsidies for large scale solar energy projects by around 70% from August 1.

But FITs for wind energy are so far unaffected (although likely to come under scrutiny in a wider review of tariffs), giving a guaranteed payment for electricity produced for the next 20 years. In some cases annual income from a small to medium sized turbine could be up to £100k.

According to the renewable energy team at south west law firm Stephens Scown, landowners that had been considering larger solar energy projects are now turning to wind as an alternative.

Sonya Bedford, head of renewables at Stephens Scown, said: “Renewable energy is a way of earning income, cuttings costs and reducing carbon emissions and the Feed In Tariff offers a guaranteed, index-linked return, so it’s no wonder that landowners find it attractive.

“Although there are still opportunities for smaller scale roof and ground-mounted solar schemes, the Government’s back-pedalling on solar subsidies for big projects means many are now looking at wind power instead, and we’ve seen a sharp increase in wind-related renewables work.”

Bedford said the Stephens Scown renewables team is dealing with a range of projects including power purchase agreements for landowners with their own turbines, dealing with planning permissions, wind turbine purchase transactions, wind farms and handling a number of larger projects on behalf of commercial developers.

She said: “The costs of turbines can range from £10k to more than £2 million depending on their size, but the returns are substantial. A medium sized turbine could generate up to £100k a year through a combination of the Feed in Tariff, reduced energy costs and the sale of surplus power to the National Grid.”