Despite Govt cuts, obituary for UK onshore wind industry is premature, Scottish Power chief tells Scottish Energy Association

Onshore wind developments dominate, and mostly in the Highlands
Onshore wind developments dominate, and mostly in the Highlands

In a blizzard of announcements since the general election, the UK Government has brought huge changes to Britain’s renewable energy industry as it seeks to wean the sector off state-subsidies.

Below is a short summary of the cuts to, removal of support from and introduction of uncertainty into an industry which currently provides almost half of Scotland’s electricity (when the sun shines and the wind blows).

June 18: The Renewables Obligation scheme, through which most of our onshore wind is funded, is to close a year early, putting £3 billion of investment and 5,400 jobs in Scotland at risk [more detail].

Amber Rudd, UK Minister for Energy
Amber Rudd, UK Minister for Energy

June 24: Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd hints in the UK Parliament that ministers may remove onshore wind from the Government’s new competitive auction process, the Contracts for Difference scheme

July 8: Renewable energy producers will now pay the Climate Change Levy tax, Chancellor George Osborne announced in his budget. The move will cost green energy producers around £450m in the current financial year, and up to £1bn by 2020-2021.

July 22: The guaranteed level of subsidy for coal or other fossil fuelled-power stations which are converting to wood or another biomass fuel is removed.

July 22: Support for larger solar installations of less than five megawatts will end a year earlier than previously planned, under plans which have been drawn up for consultation.

July 22: Changes to rules which allow access to the Feed-In Tariff scheme are proposed, removing the crucial process which allows projects to know what they will be paid for their energy before they spend significant amounts of money and begin construction.

July 22: UK Govt announces that next round of competitive auctions to sell power through the Contracts for Difference scheme will not come until the autumn – delaying £9 billion of projects in Scotland alone and adding to uncertainty in the renewables industry.

Meanwhile, the British renewable energy industry also faces:

  •  A review of the Feed-in Tariff in the autumn (although this has already been delayed).
  • The absence of any confirmation that the Renewable Heat Initiative, the world’s first long-term financial support programme for renewable heat, will be extended beyond March 2016.

SEA logoNotwithstanding this blizzard of renewable energy policy pronouncements –  Brian Galloway, Energy Policy Director at Scottish Power –  today gives his views on the prospects for onshore wind and explains why he thinks speculation over the death of Britain’s renewable energy industry is premature.


Read the full Scottish Energy Association article here:

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