Britain is building more wind turbines this year than ever before with more than 1,200 turbines due to start spinning throughout the countryside and around the coast over the next 12 months.
The “dash for wind” has been prompted by a cut in subsidies due this year and an apparent relaxing of the planning rules.
Some 763 turbines are due to be built onshore in 2013, up 60 per cent from last year.
Already there are 4,366 turbines in operation in the UK providing 8.2GW of power, enough to power 4.5 million homes for a year.
There are a further 7,843 turbines that have been approved but are yet to be built, bringing the total due to go up in the UK to more than 10,000.
In the last year the industry has hit new heights, providing 10 per cent of the UK’s electricity needs – when the wind is blowing.
The increase in wind turbines has been attributed to an apparent relaxing of the planning rules.
Last year the approval rate for wind farms went up by 50 per cent, according to industry group Renewable UK.
Despite fears for the countryside, the number of wind farms approved by councils at a local level went up for the first time in five years.
These smaller wind farms or single turbines are often just as controversial as larger developments. A 50KW turbine collapsed in rural Devon earlier this week. And despite the Government’s apparent cooling on the industry, the number of wind farms approved at a national level went up by a fifth.
Renewable UK claim the increase reflects support for the industry.
“This welcome trend is coupled with continued strong support for wind energy, with two thirds of the population in favour of continued development of wind energy. What is more, this support rises in rural areas.”
However, Dr John Constable, director of Renewable Energy Foundation, a UK charity publishing data on the energy sector, said the increase was because subsidies for onshore will be cut by 10 per cent from April 2013.
He said there is a “dash for wind” while the Government continues to pay a subsidy.
“The UK’s wind power deployment on and offshore is way ahead of the learning curve, and needs to slow down to a rational pace to avoid insupportable burdens on the consumer and the risk of major malinvestment the unwinding of which will be painful and embarrassing.”
John Hayes, the Energy Minister, has said that the number of wind farms does not need to go beyond those planned.
The Government has committed to 13GW onshore by 2020, meaning the amount of onshore wind constructed or in planning is nearing the target, and 18GW offshore, meaning thousands more have yet to be built.