Community Energy Scotland’s Eric Dodd has called for a re-balancing of electricity costs in the Highlands and Islands to help the switch to renewable heat and power, and local energy economies.
As politicians of all parties consider their manifesto commitments and their energy policy ahead of elections next year, it is worth looking at how the wind is blowing for renewables.
“Energy is a hot topic. With politicians promising to intervene in the energy market to reduce domestic energy bills, and the widespread blame on green levies for higher energy costs, we are at risk of seeing the transition to renewable energy slowing or stalling.
“I can hardly believe UKIP’s stance on wind turbines which shows they believe in trying to perpetuate a 20th-Century energy supply model based on dirty run-out fossil fuels and old technology.
“The sooner we all embrace renewable energy and local generation, the sooner we reap the benefits of green power.”
“In the Highlands and Islands consumers are currently facing some of the highest costs for electricity in the whole of the UK.
“Whilst this area is generating more than our share from wind and hydro we pay more here for what we use, and export most of it southwards.
“The high costs for electricity in the Highlands and Islands is reducing the attractiveness of shifting away from fossil fuels to renewable electric heating for example. The economics are quite simple and basic.
“Surely it is better to encourage local use of renewable power rather than spend more money on significant export infrastructure.
“Constraining output up here needs to be ended by selling power more cheaply when it is in surplus. I feel a new balance needs to be struck where electricity generated locally can be sold locally at a moderate price.”
“Like many transitions, there are costs associated with the switch to renewables and the infrastructure needed to utilise clean and sustainable energy sources.
“We can’t expect these alterations to come without investment, and that it turn does result in a cost to consumers to change systems away from oil boilers or LPG and towards greater storage of heat at home.”
Community renewable energy projects and local energy economies are a radical and effective way of achieving the energy future we would all want. Local energy economies are secure and robust. They are the obvious long-term solution and do not totally rely on centralised generation.
Local renewable energy is less vulnerable to international fuel cost volatility or availability. The risks from single breakdowns at large power stations, national power outages and terror incidents are similarly reduced.
Investment in local energy economies is about reconnecting people with the way energy is produced and making the most of every possible kilowatthour produced, whenever it is available.
Community projects have the result of making everyone think more about where their heat or electricity, or the fuel for their cars or workplaces comes from.
Any attempts by politicians to impose short term cost-cutting measures here in the UK whilst we are still shackled to an international energy market will not succeed. Worse, they will hold our country back from the benefits that innovation in renewable energy brings, like the jobs, the scientific advances and the energy security which we can all enjoy without compromising the environmental future of our planet.
Pictured is Eric Dodd of CES