Autumn Statement: Jeremy Hunt outlines further energy support

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Octopus Energy has urged the Government to scrap red tape around onshore wind farms, which they have hailed as one of the “quickest and cheapest” forms of energy to build. Since becoming Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak has backtracked on his predecessor Liz Truss’ plans to boost growth by scrapping red tape around onshore wind farms in Britain. Under those scrapped plans, the construction of wind farms on British soil would have been in line with other infrastructure projects, allowing the country to harness a major new renewable energy source. However, Octopus Energy has called on the Government to relax the current rules surrounding onshore wind, adding that these projects can be built within a year.

This comes as the energy firm announced that their match-making platform unveiled earlier this year had identified 2.3GW of potential new British onshore wind energy that could be built with local community support.

This is equivalent to building a large nuclear power station, providing enough home-grown, cheap, green energy for 1.85 million homes – or the combined population size of Birmingham and Manchester.

Octopus Energy Group’s Winder platform was developed to accelerate the process of building new wind turbines by matching available land with community support, grid capacity and wind data.

In a statement, the firm said: “It is the latest initiative in Octopus’ plans to expand cheap wind energy, helping accelerate the UK’s shift to a green economy and drive down energy bills.

“Winder builds on Octopus’ world-first ‘Fan Club’ tariff which provides cheaper power to communities close to its wind turbines when the wind is blowing. Since launching it in 2021, over 15,000 people across the country have got in touch with Octopus asking for a turbine in their community.”

According to the latest research by BloombergNEF, onshore wind is one of the cheapest and quickest forms of energy to build costing about $46/MWh.

Despite Mr Sunak’s opposition to onshore wind farms, recent polls have shown that energy source is hugely popular in the UK. A recent YouGov survey found 9 in 10 (87%) people would support a wind turbine in their community if it meant cheaper energy

Octopus estimates that building turbines on all of the identified locations would unlock investments of over £3.4billion, “leading to a renewables-powered wave of growth and creating more high-quality green jobs across the UK.”

Zoisa North-Bond, CEO of Octopus Energy Generation commented: “This energy crisis is caused by our dependence on gas. To end it and make sure we never find ourselves in the same position again, we need to build more cheap, green energy – and quickly.

“The current system means it takes seven years on average to build and connect a new onshore wind turbine – but it’s possible to build it in a year.

“Winder shows we can massively speed up this process and make a difference by next winter. It’s possible to build more wind turbines where people want them, helping to end our fossil fuel reliance, lower energy bills and unleash economic growth.”

Speaking to Express.co.uk, Dr Simon Cran-McGreehin, the head of analysis at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit said: “When it comes to onshore wind, it is really baffling why the Government in the past few years have been hostile towards it or at best lukewarm.

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“Similarly, with all renewables, onshore wind has the support of 80 percent of the population. it is popular, and it has been popular over the past several years.

“Especially now since people know that it’s one of the cheapest forms of energy generation, they know that it means we have to import less gas, reducing our dependence on the international market and such high prices.

“Onshore wind would be a sort of a win-win, and a Government that supports it would be following very popular public opinion.

“It’s really important that the industry has clear signals and the Government recognises the value of these technologies, so that will give the companies the confidence to invest and deploy them faster.”

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