Opportunities for developers and investors in re-vitalised Scottish onshore wind market

By Andy McFarlane, Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP

The least of Donald Trump’s worries on his recent world tour will have been the mockery of his predictions of the impact of wind turbines on Scotland’s tourism industry, but as he arrived for a relaxing weekend at Turnberry the renewable industry’s leaders were keen to join his ever-expanding throng of critics.

Since his 2012 appearance before the Scottish Parliament, renewable energy capacity in his mother’s homeland has more than doubled to over 10GW and records show the number of jobs in tourism have risen by more than 25,000.

The same Parliament recently set a target of reducing Scotland’s carbon emissions by 90% (from 1990 levels) by 2050 whilst news is awaited on whether, post-Brexit, the UK will adopt the EU’s revised target for energy from renewable sources of 32% by 2030.

Such a step would cap a welcome reversal of fortune for the industry. The stunning result of the Brexit referendum capped a nightmarish spell following the Tories’ surprise majority in the 2015 General Election and their subsequent decisions to accelerate the closure of the Renewables Obligation and exclude onshore wind from future CfD auctions.

Resilient developers responded by trimming budgets as they sought economic viability for their projects without subsidy. Following recent reports that highlight benefits for consumers, increased employment and investment, Lord Deben (the UK Government’s chair for the Committee on Climate Change) expressed support for onshore wind in Scotland, highlighting the economic viability of wind farms as the cheapest form of renewable energy generation.

The optimism isn’t just limited to developers. The technological advances driving cost savings on new developments are also good news for investors holding existing onshore projects. With the first UK wind farms moving towards the end of their initial life cycles, the opportunity to optimise performance and extend lifetimes has the secondary market focusing on the right moment to repower and replant projects for a maximised, continuing return.

Andy McFarlane

Andy McFarlane

Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie LLP, Glasgow, Scotland
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Wright, Johnston & Mackenzie is an independent Scottish Law firm offering the full range of corporate, dispute resolution, and private client services. They are GGI’s sole Scottish Member.

Andy McFarlane heads the WJM Renewables team and is one of Scotland’s foremost renewable energy lawyers. He is best known for his commercial approach in the delivery of bespoke fundable/marketable property packages for large scale renewables projects.

Published: Autumn 2018 l Photo: ©Froggy - stock.adobe.com

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