The extent to which the Scottish renewables industry has been damaged by recent UK Government policies was the subject of a Holyrood evidence session.
Giving evidence to the Energy and Enterprise committee in the Scottish Parliament of the extent of damage caused by UK government policy, the head of Scottish Renewables, said: “The various cuts, delays and removals of support schemes for the renewable energy industry has, in many ways, left the sector in disarray.”
The sector has faced a number of negative UK policy decisions recently, including:
- The closure of the Renewables Obligation to onshore wind a year earlier than planned – putting up to 2GW of projects, and £3 billion of investment, in Scotland at risk
- A consultation on removing pre-accreditation for small-scale Feed-in Tariff projects, and the delaying of the next Contracts for Difference allocation round – the successor to the Renewables Obligation;
- The ending of the Enterprise Investment Scheme – an incentive for those investing in energy projects such as the Edinburgh Solar Co-operative
Niall Stuart also told MSPs that these sudden changes to policy run counter to the UK Government’s overall ambitions to decarbonise the electricity sector at the lowest cost to consumers.
He said: “Onshore wind and solar are already the cheapest forms of low carbon energy to deploy at scale and some 14% cheaper than the deal given to the new Hinkley Point nuclear power station.
“In the UK fossil fuel generators are supported through the capacity mechanism, nuclear power has access to a Contract for Difference from the mid-2020s onwards. However, there is no support mechanism for onshore wind and solar beyond 2019.
“We need to know what role both UK and Scottish governments see for renewables in decarbonising the electricity sector and our economy. Right now, the industry is feeling its way in the dark when it comes to knowing where those ambitions lie.”
Meanwhile, new figures from the Office of National Statistics show that Scotland currently has the highest percentage of businesses which are involved in the Low Carbon Electricity sector of any nation in the UK.
The figures also show that Scotland has the highest percentage of turnover generated through Low Carbon Electricity work in 2014.