There was growing speculation last night that the Government is on the verge of cutting multibillion-pound financial incentives to build wind farms.
Such a move, which could come as early as tomorrow, would have a profound effect on the British wind industry, which has stated its intention to become a world leader in renewable energy.
It is believed that the Government could cut so-called ROC incentives for green energy projects as a means of keeping a lid on rising power prices.
Renewable energy leaders say that any cut in the incentive regime would be a disaster for the wind industry, which claims that it would not be able to afford to build commercially viable wind farms.
If confidence in building wind turbines in the North Sea and off the shores of Britain is damaged, billions of pounds of investment from international companies could dry up and tens of thousands of new jobs would not be created, they argue. In addition, Britain’s target of producing 30 per cent of its electricity from renewable means by 2030 could be in jeopardy.
The Department for Energy and Climate Change is set to publish the result of its review into the renewables obligations certificates — ROCs. In the case of onshore wind, developers receive one certificate for every megawatt hour (mwh) of electricity they produce. In the case of more expensive offshore wind farms, the incentive is two ROCs. One ROC is about the same value — £50 — as the price of 1 mwh of power; so, for every megawatt hour of electricity produced by an offshore wind turbine, the developer is paid £150.
Senior industry sources believe that the department will announce a reduction in the ROC incentives for wind. “If the ROCs for onshore wind were reduced from 1 to 0.75, that would simply put most developers out of business,” one well-placed source said. “If the ROCs for offshore wind were reduced from 2 to 1.5, you just will not get the proposed developments being built.”;
A department spokesman said that an announcement was imminent.