Scotland’s First Minister has called on the UK Government to increase its ambition to develop offshore wind.
Speaking ahead of a visit today to Whitelee Windfarm, Scotland’s largest onshore windfarm, Nicola Sturgeon commented:
“The results of the UK Government’s first Contracts for Difference auction last week show that real cost reductions are now being achieved in the supply of wind energy in Scotland.
“Onshore wind projects are now bidding successfully to supply power at a price substantially less than the £92.50 per megawatt hour that consumers will have to pay for the Hinkley C nuclear project.
“However, it is now clear that the future budget for offshore wind is unlikely to support Scottish ambitions to develop an industry. Only one Scottish offshore wind farm received a contract, while two major offshore wind farms were refused – leaving uncertainty over their future development.”
The auction price for onshore wind per megawatt hour ranged between £79.23 in 2016-17 and £82.50 in 2018-19, down between 17% and 13% on the administrative price cap of £95 per megawatt hour.
Whitelee is Europe’s largest onshore windfarm with 215 turbines, and an overall capacity up to 539MW. Whitelee will be capable of generating enough clean, green energy to power the all 300,000 homes in nearby Glasgow.
Sturgeon believes now is the time for greater ambition and insists the UK Government must act ‘immediately’ to provide confidence to the offshore wind industry, ensuring there is sufficient budget allocated to auctions to deliver the large-scale deployment and cost reduction that we have seen in onshore wind.
As we also report in today’s Scottish Energy News, the lack of certainty for the UK w-industry is hitting investor confidence. But Sturgeon added: “Scotland has made huge progress in renewables deployment, generating enough renewable energy to meet 44%of Scotland’s annual electricity demand.
“The results of the UK Government’s Contracts for Difference auction also show that Scottish onshore wind is now considerably cheaper than new nuclear; thanks to sustained support and large-scale deployment of projects such as Scottish Power’s Whitelee development.
“I congratulate the Neart na Gaoithe project in the Firth of Forth and Scottish Power’s East Anglia development for securing contracts. These projects demonstrate the value of developing this industry: real jobs, clean electricity and valuable contracts for suppliers.
“The UK Government must now show greater ambition for the Scottish offshore sector. We are already seeing cost reductions in offshore wind but the scale of growth planned for the sector will be a key driver to delivering further cost reductions for the long term benefit of consumers.
“It is essential that the UK Government provide confidence to the offshore wind industry that sufficient money will be available in future allocation rounds to allow the sector to move forward with assurance and enable costs to be further reduced.”