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Rumours that onshore wind 'could return' to play major role in UK energy subsidy competition

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A number of UK energy ministers have told delegates at the Conservative Party Conference that onshore wind could return to play a major role in the UK’s energy mix in terms of competing for future subsidies.

The news comes after a landmark report recently revealed that the cost of offshore wind farms had fallen by half.

Last month, a Government auction revealed that the cost per megawatt hour (MWh) of electricity produced for offshore wind had fallen to just £57.50, in comparison with the £92.50 per MWh cost of the divisive Hinkley Point C nuclear plant in Somerset.

The success of offshore wind in this respect has reignited the debate that onshore wind should be allowed to compete against other technologies for subsidies to provide low-cost renewable energy to the UK, The Telegraph reports.

Energy ministers Claire Perry and Richard Harrington have reportedly said that there is “no reason” that former Prime Minister David Cameron’s ban on subsidies for the roll-out of onshore wind turbines should remain in force if it can be proven that costs are competitive and local communities are willing to support such projects.

“Provided that it goes through a reasonable local planning system, I see no reason why it should not be on the same level playing field as everything else,” said Mr Harrington, speaking at the recent Conservative Party Conference.

Numerous energy campaigners and industry bodies have reiterated this sentiment.

Emma Pinchbeck, of RenewableUK, said that an increasing number of Conservative MPs were recognising that onshore wind could be “the cheapest way of generating new power.”

She said: “Having seen the record-breaking fall in the cost of offshore wind, we now need to discover how much the cost of onshore wind has fallen too – and that hasn’t been possible for over two and a half years because it’s been excluded from competitive auctions.”