New Onshore Wind and Solar Sites Identified - Viva Training Centre

A recent analysis by Exeter University’s Environmental Intelligence Centre and Friends of the Earth illuminates a new path to bolster England’s renewable energy production significantly. The research identifies that less than 3% of land in England could transform the country’s approach to generating renewable electricity.

The report identified 374,900 hectares deemed ‘most suitable’ for new onshore wind and solar projects. This equates to 2.9% of England’s total land area. Notably, regions such as North Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, and East Riding of Yorkshire emerge as prime candidates for these developments. According to the research, tapping into these resources could yield 13 times more electricity from onshore wind and solar sources than currently produced.

The research still unveils vast untapped potential. It adopts a conservative approach that excludes national parks, areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs), and higher-grade agricultural lands. This approach ensures that pursuing renewable energy does not compromise the nation’s cherished landscapes or agricultural productivity.

The Potential Impact

The research’s implications are profound. To meet its green transition goals and climate targets, the UK needs to double its renewable electricity output within the next six years. Remarkably, the identified land has the potential to produce 2.5 times the electricity currently required to power all households in England. This leap forward could significantly enhance the UK’s energy independence and position it as a global green energy market exporter.

Challenges and Opportunities

Despite the promising outlook, expanding onshore wind and solar power faces regulatory and policy hurdles. However, the opportunities far outweigh these challenges. Lifting these restrictions could foster long-term job creation, stimulate economic growth, and ensure environmental sustainability. Furthermore, it presents a chance to end the UK’s reliance on volatile global gas markets, mitigating the impact of future energy crises.

The article features voices from individuals and communities living near renewable energy sites. For instance, Emma Perry, who runs a riding school near the Swinford Wind Farm, shares how initial reservations gave way to positive outcomes for the community, debunking common misconceptions about the impact of wind farms on local life. Similarly, Ali Abbas of Manchester Friends of the Earth highlights the tangible benefits of community-owned solar projects, underscoring the potential for renewable energy to support local economies and empower communities.

Recommendations and Calls to Action

Friends of the Earth calls for a concerted effort from political leaders, local authorities, and communities to embrace the untapped potential of onshore wind and solar power. Recommendations include lifting restrictions on onshore wind farms, identifying suitable areas for renewable projects in local plans, and investing in a modern electricity grid. These steps are vital for realising the UK’s renewable energy potential and transitioning to a zero-carbon economy.

This analysis sheds light on a path towards a sustainable energy future for England, revealing the untapped potential of less than 3% of its land for renewable energy development. The findings underscore the urgency and feasibility of scaling up onshore wind and solar power to meet the UK’s energy and climate goals. As England stands on the brink of a renewable energy revolution, all stakeholders must unite to harness this potential and ensure a greener, more resilient energy future.

The report from Exeter University’s Environmental Intelligence Centre and Friends of the Earth marks a significant milestone in the pursuit of sustainability and energy security. It charts a course for a renewable-powered England. The time for action is now; the path forward is clear, promising a brighter, cleaner future for all.


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