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A significant wind farm on Shetland has gained approval to go ahead despite fierce against the scheme by local residents.

While this scheme is a major milestone for the development of renewable energy – due to the potentially large and consistent generating capacity and unique development partnership – analysis of Glenigan data shows that this only the latest investment in a booming sector.

Investment in renewable energy projects around the UK has taken of over the last year, with wind energy a major focus. The total value of renewable energy project starts was £4.3bn over 2011, almost double 2010’s £2.2bn.

Of the £4.3bn invested in Renewable Energy projects last year, £3.7bn was blown on wind turbines and related projects (that compares to £1.9bn over 2010). The biggest of these projects was the London Array scheme – worth £2bn – which sits off the coast of the South East.

Scotland also benefitted from a high value of wind power investment – the five top wind projects to start north of the Boarder last year worth cumulatively worth over £1bn. As other types of building such as office developments and private housing are increasingly being built in the south of the UK, projects such as the Viking wind farm in Shetland will play an important role in supporting the Scottish construction industry.

However, it wasn’t just wind energy that attracted extra investment last year. Of the nearly £600m invested in non-wind related projects last year, £290m was spent on solar energy projects across the UK last year.

While Glenigan expect the value of wind project starts to remain high over the next two years, it is also likely that the value of non-wind renewable power projects will becoming increasingly more important over the longer term. With investment in technology such as tidal power in its (relative) infancy, this could be a potential growth sector for some time to come as the UK looks to produce more reliable forms of sustainable energy.

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