Orkney Islands Council – the local authority for what is known in the renewable energy sector as ‘the Energy Isles’ – is calling for the UK Government to reconsider its approach to renewable energy subsidies following publication of “strike prices” which fall short of offering special rates for marine-based power generated in Scotland’s islands.
The UK Department of Energy (DECC) consulted earlier this year on strike prices – the minimum prices developers could expect to be paid – for electricity generated from renewable sources.
The consultation included an option for a higher strike price for islands-based renewables projects – an “island uplift” – to reflect the higher costs of transmission from Scotland’s island areas.
While the strike prices announced today retain an island uplift for onshore wind projects, there is no such uplift for energy generated from wave or tidal technologies.
Councillor Steven Heddle, Convener of Orkney Islands Council, said: “We’ve invested heavily in wave and tidal infrastructure in Orkney in anticipation of commercial-scale development.
“The council, and others with a keen interest in maximising Orkney’s huge potential for generating energy from the seas around us, have pressed DECC on this issue over a considerable period of time. So it is highly disappointing that our calls to level the playing field for these emerging technologies seem to have been ignored.
“This latest announcement is a body blow for the timely commercial development of the wave and tidal sector in the UK, and one which destabilises the case for a vital transmission link to the mainland markets.
“It is nonsensical that one technology – onshore wind – has been granted an islands uplift, while marine-based projects have not, when transmission costs are the same regardless of the source of generation.
“Wave and tidal energy are central to the UK meeting its climate change and clean energy targets – it’s vital that strike prices reflect the added challenges of harnessing marine energy in Scotland’s islands, to ensure developers and investors are not turned back by the higher costs involved, thus losing the UK its hard won lead in this new global industry.
“We urge the UK Government to give serious consideration to introducing and islands uplift for islands-based marine renewables, and to urgently progress grid underwriting and guarantees for island transmission links, so that the country’s greatest marine energy resources can contribute to meeting avowed national targets.”
The UK Government announcement can be found here.