Scotland’s subsidised wind-farm ‘gold rush’ is over, warns Scottish Power chief

Keith Anderson
Keith Anderson

The head of Scottish Power has today warned that the country’s 10-year wind-farm gold rush is over, and says onshore Scots wind farms need the UK Govt to ‘create a level playing field’ if it is to have a future.

Keith Anderson, Chief Executive, Scottish Power, said that no new framework has been created for wind farms for when subsidies come to an end in April.

But he confessed that his company is still involved in a “wind-rush” to build turbines before the tap supplying UK-government subsidies for onshore Scottish wind farms is turned off in April 2017.

From this point onwards, applications from major land-owners and investors seeking to build new onshore wind farms in Scotland are likely to fall to a trickle, if not dry up entirely.

This would put a major spoke in the wheels of the Scot-government plan to generate 100% of Scottish electricity from renewables by 2020

Anderson said: “What we are asking for for onshore wind is a level playing field. We are not asking for a subsidy.”

“There’s a new mechanism in place for offshore wind, called contracts for difference. For gas investment the government have created a capacity mechanism.

“We’re asking for a contract to help underpin some of the risk of making these big, long term investments.”

Scotland Against Spin – the anti wind farm campaign group – welcomed Anderson’s comments. A spokesman said: “We’re already producing too much wind electricity in Scotland for us to be able to use ourselves, so it’s either being exported or when it’s windy it’s being constrained off.”

The UK Govt is committed to holding another round of auctions for Contracts for Difference. It has set no timetable for when these will be held, but the junior UK energy minister, Baroness Neville-Rolfe has been hinting that it may be sooner rather than later.

Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse commented: “We’ve made great progress by achieved 56% of that 100% renewable-energy generated electricity by 2015, which was ahead of schedule.

“But we’re now seeing changes since the 2015 UK general election where the UK government is derailing potentially a very important industry, not just in Scotland but other parts of the UK as well and that’s of great concerns to us.”

Although Scottish Power’s warning will ring alarm bells in St. Andrew’s House – which plans to publish its draft new Scottish Energy Strategy in January 2017 – there is a likely ‘renewables rescue plan’ luckily being built in the Pentland Firth.

This is where tidal power company Atlantis Resources is current building its 398MW MeyGen subsea ‘power station’ which will generate enough electricity to power a city the size of Edinburgh.

Hitherto overlooked by the wind-farm gold rush, renewable tidal energy may by formally included in the government’s new Scottish Energy Strategy, along with greater, hypothecated generation targets for Scottish solar power.

srf-logo-for-senSee also: –  Scotland’s Renewable Forum calls for ‘system-wide approach’ to de-carbonising heat and transport in new Scottish Energy Strategy

Ironically, Anderson issued his warning as Scottish Power rushes to complete installation of more than 200 turbines at eight wind farms across Scotland.

More than 1,000 people are currently building a total of eight wind projects for the company across the Central Belt and south west Scotland. Work is progressing at pace with 221 turbines being erected, representing an investment of more than £650 million.

So far this year, the Glasgow-based utility has awarded nine turbine contracts with a combined value of over £350 million.  Once completed, this will deliver 474 megawatts (MW) of new electricity capacity.

The largest site under construction is at Kilgallioch, which straddles the border of South Ayrshire and Dumfries and Galloway. At 96 turbines and 239MW, it will become the third largest onshore site in the UK and will be capable of powering more than 130,000 homes.

Scottish Power wind farms under construction  

  • Kilgallioch – 96 turbines: 239MW
  • Black Law Extn Ph 1 – 23 turbines: 45MW
  • Black Law Extn Ph 2 – 11 turbines: 18MW
  • Ewe Hill Phase 1 – 6 turbines: 14MW
  • Ewe Hill Phase 2 – 16 turbines: 37MW
  • Dersalloch – 23 turbines: 69MW
  • Harehill Extn – 35 turbines: 30MW 
  • Glen App – 11 turbines: 22MW
Scottish Power Kilgallioch wind farm under construction on Ayrshire - Dumfriesshire border
Scottish Power Kilgallioch wind farm under construction on the Ayrshire – Dumfriesshire border

Kenny Peberdy, Onshore Director, Scottish Power, said: “Scotland is one of the busiest places in the world right now for the construction of onshore wind, with thousands of engineers and technicians and support workers delivering a raft of large-scale renewable energy projects.

“We are currently building more projects at the same time than we’ve ever built before through an unprecedented level of investment this year.

“Scotland is boosting its credentials as a global renewable energy leader, and making wind power work for communities across the country. Not only is the industry supporting of thousands of jobs in the construction and operation of windfarms, it also means that low carbon electricity generation in the country will be at an all-time high, as well as ensuring that millions of pounds will made available by developers to support community investment projects.”

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