UK Leaders Need To Appreciate Small Wind
We are as interested as anyone in the move towards 10MW offshore turbines.
But sometimes we need a reminder of how that is still a relatively small part of the market. In the last month we have had one such reminder, from British renewables trade body RenewableUK in its ‘Small and Medium UK Wind Report’. This is its annual review of the UK’s sub-500kW sector.
The report starts by highlighting the sector’s successes. In 2014, 2,237 small (1.5kW-50kW) and medium (50kW-500kW) wind turbines were installed in the UK, and 2,614 were sold to markets overseas, mainly Europe and North America. This shows that manufacturers in the UK are using exports to bolster and promote the domestic market —although this masks problems at home.
RenewableUK says the government’s axing in 2012 of feed-in tariffs for 1.5kW-15kW projects has harmed the deployment of small and medium turbines in the UK, and held back the industry.
This change has forced small wind turbine companies in the UK to cut staff numbers, merge with rivals, or leave the sector at a time when the small and medium wind sector globally is growing fast.
The report says: “Every effort is being made by the industry to stay afloat, and after two years of decline, many companies are now heavily reliant on export markets.”
Now, it is great to hear that UK firms are making significant sales in the global market. Indeed, it is crucial for businesses in a global industry like wind to have thriving exports operations. But the UK government needs to realise how these firms are supporting UK Plc, and give them more support.
If the government doesn’t do this then more people who work in small and medium wind in the UK will decide to take their skills to a country that really appreciate them. UK industry will suffer —and according to RenewableUK it already is.