By 2010, the UK onshore wind industry will generate 50% more electricity than previously predicted, and will have installed 6,000 MW of wind power capacity, generating almost 5% of UK electricity supply, avoiding up to 13 million tones of CO2 emissions and delivering nearly half of the government's 2010 renewable energy target, according to a report published by the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA).

The BWEA report takes into account potential barriers such as the planning process, decision-making and grid capability, to provide the most realistic assessment of onshore wind’s contribution to the energy mix by 2010. The results show that 2006 is a record year for the UK wind industry with 665MW scheduled for completion by year end.

Combined with currently operating capacity and existing consents, a total of 3,000MW is already confirmed for delivery by 2010. This new research identifies a further 3,000MW which is forecast to be consented and built by 2010, bringing the total to 6,000MW.

It further concludes that onshore wind alone can deliver almost half of the government’s 10% renewable energy target by 2010. The electricity generated will power 3.3 million homes, equivalent to the domestic population of London and Glasgow combined, with Scotland expected to make the greatest contribution, benefiting from the best wind resource.

The report goes on to say that by producing electricity from 6,000MW of onshore wind energy, the UK will displace six million tones of coal burn in power stations and avoid 13 million tones of CO2 emissions or displace 2.9 billion cubic meters of gas, reducing imports, and avoiding six million tones of CO2 emissions.

BWEA is now calling on the UK government and the devolved administrations to maintain a positive and robust approach to planning policy and to urgently address delays to planning decisions which are spiraling towards three years, particularly in Scotland.

Onshore wind can play a hugely significant role in meeting renewable energy and climate change targets. Our research proves, very clearly, that onshore wind will deliver, bringing major benefits to the economy and the environment while securing our energy supplies. Wind is already firmly established as part of the UK’s energy mix and its continued expansion must be fully recognized in the government’s energy review, says Chris Tomlinson, BWEA’s head of onshore.