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UK SOLAR ENJOYING BRIGHT PERIOD AS WIND BLOWN OFF COURSE

Published: 27th April 2015

Almost 2,000 renewable energy projects, with construction contracts worth £5.2bn, were awarded in the UK last year, reports construction data provider Barbour ABI. More than £1.7bn was committed to solar power projects – a record amount.

Renewable energy planning applications increased by 26% in 2014 compared with the year before, continuing the trend of year-on-year growth in the sector. Solar energy projects were found to have had the biggest increase in approvals year on year, increasing by 59% on 2013. Furthermore, 611 solar farms with a value of more than £100,000 were submitted for planning in 2014, compared with only three solar farms in 2010. Illustrating the rapid growth for the solar sector over the last five years.

However, 409 renewable wind projects – almost half the total amount submitted for detailed planning – were refused at the planning stage, considerably more than the average refusal rate of 12% across the construction sector.

“Looking across the construction industry as a whole, for wind projects refusals to be running at 45% demonstrates there are clearly difficulties that range from the size and scope of the projects to public objections,” commented Michael Dall, lead economist at Barbour ABI. “On the flipside, wind projects contributed to 44% (£2.27bn) of the total amount of contracts awarded for renewable energy last year, boosted by many large-scale projects such as the £105m Corriegarth and £52.5m Millennium South wind farms (in the Scottish Highlands).

“The value of the 409 wind projects refused planning permission in 2014 totalled a planned spend of £1.58bn, a significant figure to the construction industry,” added Dall.

“Alongside the increased importance of renewable projects to the UK energy sector, more may need to be done to look at reducing the refusal percentage of wind projects.”

Article from the RICS Modus Magazine dated May 2015

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