Paul Wheelhouse, MSP, held talks with his UK counterpart in Stornoway when he and British Energy Secretary Greg Clark co-chair the fifth meeting of the Scottish Islands Renewables Delivery Forum.
Discussions focused 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.
The three main Scottish island groups – the Orkney, Shetland and 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 Islands’ renewable energy delivery forum was established to put in place arrangements for the projects to compete for support and overcome this barrier.
Wheelhouse said: “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.
“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.”
Discussion point: What is the role of SSE and/or Scottish Power in this?
Many in Scotland’s ‘Energy Isles – have long lamented the lack of connectivity to National Grid on the UK mainland. But a combined Dutch and Danish consortium have developed plans to build their own ‘fake’ energy island on the Dogger Bank in the North Sea to improve international energy connectivity.
See also: 21 March 2017: