Energy projects worth £2.5 billion at risk.
The UK Government must recognise the vital importance of island renewables to the UK energy market, Paul Wheelhouse said today ahead of talks with his UK counterpart in Stornoway.
Scotland’s Energy Minister and the UK Energy Secretary Greg Clark will co-chair the fifth meeting of the Scottish Islands Renewables Delivery Forum in Stornoway on 10 April.
Discussions will focus on the UK Government’s recent consultation which back-tracked on support for wind projects on the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland. The development of proposed major projects alone would trigger initial investment of £2.5 billion.
“Our position on island wind is both consistent and very clear – we must do all we can to enable our island communities to benefit from this substantial resource, large enough to meet 5% of total UK electricity demand, provide significant boost to decarbonising our electricity supply, and would be worth up to £725 million to local economies.
“The planned projects on the Western and Shetland Isles would face extremely high locational transmission charges to provide electricity to the mainland. That is why an appropriate support mechanism is so important to help unlock very significant capital investment from the private sector and community-owned developers as well as, in turn, underpinning the investment case to National Grid for vital islands grid connections. Bringing this positive scenario about, as quickly as possible, will be at the heart of my discussions with Mr Clark.
“Responses to the UK Government’s consultation show the case for supporting island wind projects is stronger than ever - our own submission was robust and credible. The projects under discussion would deliver tangible economic benefits to the communities involved while helping to ensure resilience in GB market electricity supplies. I look forward to making this positive case during our meeting with the Secretary of State.”
Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles between them possess the ability to produce high-quality renewable energy from wind and marine resources – with the potential to meet up to 5% of total GB electricity demand.
Over 2012-2014, the Scottish and UK Governments identified that projects were unable to come forward on their own due to high costs associated with their location. Renewables generators on the islands would pay significantly higher charges to provide electricity to the grid than generators on the mainland.
The Delivery Forum was established to put in place arrangements for the projects to compete for support and overcome this barrier.
The UK government’s island wind consultation closed on 31 January 2017 – the Scottish Government response to the consultation is available online.