And he told more than 400 delegates at this week’s Offshore Wind energy and supply chain conference in Aberdeen that the Scottish Government is ‘deeply concerned’ at the decision by the UK Department of Energy to exclude Scottish & Southern Energy’s Beatrice wind farm project from list of ‘final contenders’ for offshore wind subsidies.
Ewing added; “I will be writing to Ed Davey (UK Energy Minister) expressing the Scottish Government’s concern about the threat this raises to investment in Scotland’s wind energy industry – which has massive potential.”
Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Limited (BOWL) is the joint venture partnership between SSE Renewables (75%) and Repsol Nuevas Energias UK (25%).
Later, SSE insiders indicated that the ‘battle for Beatrice’ is not over yet, as prominent industry figures prepare to launch a last-ditch lobbying campaign in Westminster to get DECC to re-instate the proposal on to the Final Investment Decision Enabling for Renewables list.
Ewing contrasted the high levels of public support by the UK Government for new nuclear power – highlighting the £92/mw/hr strike price it has announced for the proposed new Hinckley Point-C plant in England – compared to much lower levels for wind and renewable energy developments.
He said that it ‘is by no means certain’ that the EU Competition Commission will approve these UK nuclear subsidies, and added:
“Scotland’s has the potential to be a world leader in new renewable energy if we can resolve the problems with the Energy Market Reforms (EMR) proposals with the UK Government. EMR is broken and is ‘almost comically’ complex.
“By 2030, Scottish offshore wind will have the capacity to be the least expensive means of generating electricity – but there is a big selling job here for the renewables industry to get this message across.
The Minister also told delegates that the Scottish Government will announce its decision on planning applications for the Moray Offshore and Beatrice arrays – two major offshore wind projects in the Moray Firth – ‘in the next few weeks’.
The long-awaited announcement is being keenly watched by the renewable wind energy industry – not only for the substantial capital investment they would trigger in building hundreds of wind turbines, but also for the potential of ‘me-too’ offshore wind farms in the Tay and Forth estuaries.
A number of ports and harbour authorities from both Scotland’s east and west coasts were among the exhibitors at the event.