Majority of UK renewable projects fail at planning stage

26 June 2024

Two thirds of applications for renewable projects in the UK failed to get through the planning stage, according to a new study.

Between 2018 and 2023, 63% of new renewable energy schemes were either abandoned, refused, withdrawn, or ultimately expired according to Cornwall Insight’s Renewables Pipeline Tracker.

Their study shows that only 20% of projects remain in development that could see projects coming to fruition, so that they are now at the ‘planning submitted’, ‘awaiting construction’ or ‘under construction’ stages.

While the overall number of renewables applications has seen a rapid increase, the approval rate remains low, with a growing trend of “non-progressing projects”, say analysts at Cornwall Insight.

One possible reason for the low success rate of applications is an increasing number of speculative applications being submitted, as developers submit multiple applications for the same sites.

Lucy Dolton, Assets and Infrastructure Manager at Cornwall Insight:

“The UK has set ambitious targets to boost renewable energy capacity. These figures reveal a substantial shortfall in meeting these targets, something which is largely driven by the slow pace of progress in deploying renewable energy projects.

“The total capacity of projects in the grid connection queue is currently well in excess of what is necessary for net zero generation capacity. However, considering the lengthy process for projects to progress through planning and gain grid connections, and the current volume of projects that are unsuccessful, the amount of this capacity that will ultimately connect could be much lower than the pipeline of projects suggests.”

She added:

“It’s clear that an increasing number of the applications submitted are speculative, raising the numbers in the connections queue, and creating obstacles for projects that are mostly ready to connect.

“It is positive to see the work being undertaken across industry regarding reforming the connections process, addressing grid congestion for both new projects and the existing connection queue. The scale of the challenge is significant, but timely and measured changes will be key for maintaining momentum in the deployment of renewables across the UK.”



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