Scottish Energy Minister, Fergus Ewing and the leaders of Scotland’s three islands councils, have today announced plans to hold a special summit meeting to secure the islands’ energy future.
The move follows the latest decision by the UK electricity regulator to delay its review of ‘discriminatory’ charges applied to electricity generators for connecting to the UK national grid – an issue which particularly effects island generators.
While the Department for Energy (DECC) has provided additional support for Scottish island wind – £115/MWh, compared to £90/MWh on the mainland, councillors are concerned that a ‘one size fits all’ approach falls short of what is required for developments to proceed in all of the islands.
Ewing said: “The evidence that has under-pinned work to-date sets out different requirements for each of the islands and we had expected to see different strike price arrangements for each to reflect this.
“Developers will now need to assess whether this support will work for them. If, as the evidence suggests, it will not, I will work with all of the Scottish islands councils, and will move swiftly to bring UK Ministers and all interested parties together to assess whether anything further can be done to help deliver a positive outcome for each island group.
“The UK Government decision could result in a huge missed opportunity if it does not work for all three of the Scottish Island groups.
“Renewable energy on Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles has the potential to provide up to 5% of GB electricity demand by 2030, and create tens of thousands of jobs.”
Angus Campbell, Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said: “We wholeheartedly support the Scottish Government in its call for a summit in early 2014 to bring all interested parties together to assess the position and to ensure that an approach and mechanisms are put in place to ensure developer confidence is maintained and that there is a clear timeline for inter-connector implementation.”
Orkney Islands Council Convener Steven Heddle added: “Orkney has already established a world leading role in the development of marine renewable energy. With the right support in place, developers will commit themselves to commercial-scale wave and tidal projects within Orkney’s energy-rich waters.
“New grid connections are vital if Orkney is to fulfil its huge potential for energy generation from the seas around us. I welcome the announcement of the summit and look forward to working with both Governments to find solutions that unlock island transmission connections for the benefit of Scotland and the UK as a whole.”
And Gary Robinson, Shetland Islands Council Leader, added: “It is important that a positive dialogue continues between all parties towards a solution which can work for all three of Scotland’s island groups”.