The North East gains almost £500million of economic benefit from its onshore wind industry, according to new figures released by RenewableUK.
Of that, benefits to the value of £17.8million go directly into the local community as a result of installed onshore wind capacity in the area.
There are currently nearly 350MW of onshore wind installed within the North East, powering more than 187,184 homes each year. This represents environmental benefits of 337,411 tonnes of CO2 reduced per year due to onshore wind installed in the North East alone.
Northumberland is the area with the most installed onshore wind in the North East with just over 190MW installed. The area benefits from employment due to onshore wind and local companies include Hydratight in Morpeth, which produces bolt solutions, and North Energy Associates, which provides consultancy solutions.
The figures form part of a report, undertaken by BiGGAR Economics for RenewableUK, which shows that the economic benefits of developing onshore wind are strongly felt across the UK, with the onshore wind industry generating a total £906million in gross value added (GVA) revenue to the UK economy in 2014 alone. Since the beginning of 2012, GVA has risen by £358million (up 65 per cent) – revealing the increasing contribution that the onshore wind industry and its supply chain makes to the UK economy.
The largest percentage of local spend comes at the operations and maintenance stage with 42 per cent of the value of contracts (compared to 29 per cent in 2011) being spent in the local area. On a wider level, almost half of the total spend is retained in the region in which a windfarm is located (48 per cent), with this highest at the development stage (59 per cent) and operation and maintenance (58 per cent).
RenewableUK’s chief executive Maria McCaffery said: “The British onshore wind energy industry is adding £906million a year to the national economy, so the benefits to the UK are clear to see. This report also shows that onshore wind really does bring benefits to the UK – with £7 in every £10 spent on projects invested in the UK.
“Onshore wind powers local economies, bringing £199million of investment into local areas where communities host windfarms, and creating jobs across the supply chain. The industry is helping to propel Britain to a brighter, cleaner future – onshore wind is already the lowest cost of all low-carbon options, with potential to be the least-cost form of electricity within the next five years.
“Yet onshore wind farms are under threat from misguided Tory and Ukip policies aimed at stifling their development, despite being the rational economic choice and having consistently high levels of public support.”