SNP’s Scottish Energy Minister tells UK wind, wave and tidal energy chiefs: “The Tories are right; you MUST CUT COSTS to have a long term-future’

Paul Wheelhouse, MSP
Paul Wheelhouse, MSP

Scottish Energy News: UK Exclusive  

The Scottish Energy Minister flew the flag for more and bigger wave, wind and tidal energy developments in Scotland at a UK industry conference in Manchester yesterday.

But in a blunt message, Paul Wheelhouse also told the renewable energy industries that they must continue to cut costs in order to keep consumer energy bills as low as possible – which is also a key Tory Government energy policy.

He said: “Looking ahead to the future for the offshore wind industry, we now know that the UK Government has confirmed there will be three Contracts for Difference auctions held by 2020.

“They have announced a budget of up to £730 million for up to 4 gigawatts of offshore wind and other, less established renewables, for projects commissioning from 2021 to 2026.

“But the UK Government has also said that the funding is not unconditional.

“Ongoing <Govt> support is subject to cost reduction targets being met – initially capped at £105 per megawatt hour falling to £85 per megawatt hour for projects commissioning by 2026. 

“The Scottish Government recognises the need to achieve renewables targets at lowest costs and to protect consumers – and we acknowledge – and share – the UK Government’s aspiration to this end.”

But the minority-SNP Scottish Government also had a tough message for the UK Energy Minister about policy uncertainty over renewables.

Wheelhouse added: “The key challenge facing the development of a vibrant supply chain within Scotland and the rest of the UK is the uncertainty that exists associated with the CfD process. 

“This uncertainty delays investment and risks our ability to compete with established supply chains on the continent.

“It is essential that the supply chain companies are awarded these contracts. We await further announcements from DECC in relation to the parameters of the next allocation round, prior to the auction window opening at the end of the year.

“It is crucial therefore that the UK Government provides the details of the plan as soon as possible.

“The absence of clarity can only damage investment in Scotland and the UK and therefore diminish opportunities for our supply chain businesses.

But he finished on a positive note – laying out the high level of Scot-Govt. ambitions for renewable energies and citing stand-out developments approved over the past 12 months, including;

  • The world’s largest floating offshore wind development at the Statoil Hywind Scotland Pilot to be installed off the coast of Peterhead.
  • The acquisition of the former Samsung 7-MW demonstration offshore wind turbine – renamed the Levenmouth Turbine – by Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult.
  • SSE’s decision to greenlight its £2.6 billion Beatrice offshore wind turbine parc in the Moray Firth

 Added to this list he could have included the Atlantis/ MeyGen tidal stream turbine array in the Pentland Firth off Caithness

But Wheelhouse did add: “We see enormous potential of using the ocean to contribute to our sustainable energy future.  To that end, we remain absolutely committed to helping industry overcome the hurdles to successful offshore wind, wave and tidal energy deployment.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Govt. will publish a ‘refreshed’ renewable energy plan for offshore wind, wave and tidal sectors – as part of the emerging new Scottish Energy Strategy – by the end of this year

It will also detail how it intends to use its new devolved powers from the Westminster parliament to direct the Scottish Crown Estate to maximise ancillary planning and consenting support for renewables.

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