The U.K. needs to utilize greater wind power, the country's cheapest electricity generation option, to reach its climate goals, a new report by RenewableUK, a trade association for wind, wave and tidal power industries, outlined on Thursday.
The U.K. set a target of reducing its carbon emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.
The report comes ahead of a recommendation by the Committee on Climate Change due on May 2, on whether and how the government should strengthen its climate target to a goal of net zero emissions.
Last year, the committee said the government was way off target with its climate change commitments and carbon targets.
Wind power in the U.K. holds the potential to secure low-cost capacity, lower the gap in low-carbon generation and reach climate goals, according to the report.
RenewableUK called for the government to work with local authorities to bring in supportive policies, including commitments to maintain the current capacity of onshore wind farms in the decades ahead by granting permission for re-powering where appropriate.
More than 8 gigawatts (GW) of onshore wind capacity, which currently generates nearly 18% of the U.K.'s entire renewable power output, could be retired over the next two decades creating a gap in low-carbon generation capacity, the report showed.
The gap could grow further if the onshore wind capacity reaches its expected lifespan of 25 years, it warned.
"New policies are needed to support replacing or re-powering these older onshore wind farms," RenewableUK said, underlining the importance of building new projects with more powerful turbines on existing wind farm sites.
The trade association also advocated other options such as upgrading turbines that are already operating or allowing existing projects to generate for longer than originally envisaged.
Under the report's optimum scenario, 12 GW of replacement onshore wind capacity could be installed, which would help fill the energy gap by powering nearly 8 million homes a year while contributing to climate targets.
The U.K. is currently missing out on the most modern and efficient technology, according to the report.
"Upgrading our infrastructure with modern onshore turbines is good for consumers, as onshore wind is the cheapest form of new electricity available, and brings investment to communities around the U.K.," said Emma Pinchbeck, RenewableUK deputy chief executive.
By Zeynep Beyza Kilic