Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing has held urgent meetings with industry representatives from the renewables sector following the UK Government’s decision to end onshore wind subsidies.
DECC (the Department of Energy and Climate Change) last week announced its plan to close the Renewables Obligation for onshore wind from April 2016. This was met with outcry by the Scottish industry which claimed it ‘could cost £3 billion investment in Scotland.’
Ewing met with the Inverness Chamber of Commerce and industry representatives including Energy North, Falck Renewables, RES and E.On to listen to their concerns about the impact on both developers and the supply chain.
He said: “The decision taken by the UK Government to close the Renewables Obligation early for the onshore wind sector will have a negative impact on the renewables industry in Scotland and potentially on the thousands of people who work in it.
“There are many communities and companies who have invested significant amounts of money in renewables scheme and have now found the goal posts have been moved. I am keen to listen to their concerns, understand the impact and continue to work together in making representations to the UK Government.
“The industry has been working hard to drive costs down over recent years and making onshore wind one of the most cost effective renewable energies and this decision puts this hard work and progress in jeopardy.
“The Scottish Government remains committed to the renewable sector and to achieving our target of 100% of our electricity demand through renewables by 2020 and the onshore wind sector is a significant part of that.”
Stewart Nicol, chief executive at Inverness Chamber of Commerce, commented: “Given the contribution renewable energy development makes to the Highland economy in terms of supply-chain contracts, community benefit, skills development and investment, it is hugely concerning that Westminster has moved to progress these plans ahead of schedule.
“It is hard not to conclude that this is a political intervention based on the needs of south of the border, and shows total lack of recognition for the industry’s importance in Scotland as a provider of employment, economic growth and inward investment.”
Gordon MacDougall, Managing Director, Western Europe, RES, added: “Onshore wind stands on the verge of being able to compete on a purely commercial basis with other, more mature, forms of energy generation without requiring new subsidies in the 2020s – and it would be in no-one’s interests for this important opportunity to be squandered.
“Stable and supportive policy across the UK is the key stepping stone to this subsidy free future.
“We therefore welcome the Scottish Government’s strong position against the early closure of the Renewables Obligation and look forward to working with industry groups to ensure onshore wind can continue to contribute towards meeting our climate change targets at the lowest cost to the consumer – another key manifesto commitment of the UK Government.”