The Scottish Government will today (12 Oct) take its campaign on the future of renewable energy to London as it renewed calls for the UK Government to change course on its cuts in support for renewable energy.
Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing, is hosting a Renewables Roundtable event this morning, with representatives from across the renewables industry, environmental NGOs and business organisations to discuss the impact of recent UK Government decisions on renewables.
The UK Government’s energy policy is costing the renewables industry millions as investor confidence recedes, and comes despite the UK wanting to take a leading role at the upcoming Paris climate change talks, and despite concern on decreasing UK energy generation margins.
A recent industry report said that around two gigawatts of onshore wind projects in Scotland have been put at risk. These are projects that could bring around £3 billion pounds of investment.
In addition the UK Government’s own impact assessment shows that 63 million tonnes more CO2 will be released into the atmosphere as a result of their cuts in renewable energy. And their cuts come as National Grid’s assessment show a further tightening of the gap between electricity supply and demand.
The feedback from the Renewables Roundtable will help inform Ewing’s discussions when he meets UK Energy Secretary Amber Rudd later today.
The Scot-Govt, alongside representatives from onshore and offshore wind, solar, and environmental groups, is asking the UK Government for clarity on a number of issues: –
* A Renewables Obligation grace period which includes everything already in the planning system
* A date for the next Contract for Difference (CfD) funding round to give certainty for developers
* A route to market for new onshore wind farms
* Concessions for community energy as part of the Feed-In Tariff (FITs) scheme
Speaking ahead of the Renewables Roundtable summit Ewing said: “Recent decisions on renewable energy by the UK Government can only be described as anti-business, anti-environment and anti-energy security. The impacts are spreading right across Scotland and the UK.
“It not just the renewables industry that are affected but also the wider supply chain, including ports and harbours, transmission and distribution, consultancy, communities and the civil engineering sector.
“As the Energy Bill progresses in Westminster we will continue to argue that it is in the interests of business, environment and energy security for the UK Government to mitigate their hard-line stance.
“These sudden and unexpected shifts have brought about widespread uncertainty and concern and will not only impact Scotland but rest of the UK.”
Following DECC’s announcement that onshore wind projects which had secured planning permission by 18 June 2015 will be given a nine-month grace period, a leading Scottish renewable energy boss has condemned it as ‘too little, too late’.
Paul McCullagh, Chief Executive, Glasgow-based UrbanWind, said: “While any announcement that helps to provide further confidence to investors should be welcomed, this simply feels like a brief stay of execution. The Government have systematically withdrawn support for onshore wind despite widespread public support and increasing evidence that it is our cheapest available form of generation as well as the greenest.
“Many had expected the grace period to be a year, rather than the nine months that has now been confirmed. Also, the criteria that grid connection and land rights must already be in place further reduces the number of potential projects that will be applicable.
“The Government should be backing onshore wind fully, rather than being forced to scale back on ill-conceived and poorly thought through subsidy cuts that threaten investment and continued growth for the sector.”
Meanwhile, the Scottish Parliament’s all-party group on renewable energy (SPREE) is set to carry out its own investigation into these and related issues over the current parliamentary session.
MSPs Jim Eadie (SNP) and Sarah Boyack (Lab) were elected as co-convenors at the group’s annual meeting when a number of other items were suggested for the group’s work-plan.
‘Gentleman wind-farmer’ Jamie McGrigor (Tory, Highlands & Islands) was particular concerned about the effect on the supply chain and ancillary industries, while Mike McKenzie (SNP, Highlands & Islands) suggested that SPREE also ask Neil Kermode from the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney to give evidence.
Later, a spokesman for Smart Energy GB – the UK qovernment campaign body which aims to persuade 100% of households to switch to digital meters for domestic gas and electricity bills – gave a presentation which indicated savings of around £5 per week on annual household energy bills.
The spokesman said it is preparing a multi-£-million advertising campaign for Spring 2016 in which it hopes to encourage to consumers to be more energy-efficient by being able to see the cost of their energy consumption displayed in real time – like a taxi meter.