A UK Government consultation on allowing onshore wind and solar developers to compete again for subsidies is only a step in the right direction – not a 'silver bullet' to increase the provision of onshore wind developments.

Savills Energy's Nick Green said that, whilst welcome, the consultation did not deal with a number of potential roadblocks that need to be overcome for the long-term health of the sector.

Momentum in Scottish onshore wind has been increasing over recent months, reported Mr Green, with new site enquiries at a five year high, but yet few projects have progressed to construction as a consequence of the subsidy withdrawal in 2016.

He suggested that the reopening of the contracts for difference (CfD) auction process for solar and onshore wind should enable projects to get off the drawing board, but like elsewhere across the UK, the process was likely to be highly competitive as there was a significant number of projects across a range of technologies that would be competing for the same budget pot, including the backlog of Scottish onshore wind projects.

"A number of these projects were likely to be uncompetitive in their present design due to high infrastructure costs and we expect in order to become viable, larger turbine sizes will be required, which means a return to the planning process," said Mr Green. "This will take up valuable time in what is a tight timeframe to be eligible to bid into the next auction round proposed for 2021

"The UK Government-backed CfD is likely to increase the rate of deployment of projects as the take up of merchant projects has been slow. However, it is likely that prices achieved at the 2021 auction will be below those achievable on a merchant basis. But the certainty derived from a 15 year guarantee alongside the security of a strong covenant will give investors confidence to get projects out of the ground."