A joint working group between the UK and Scottish Governments to find a solution to the problems of high transmission charges for the Western Isles will shortly appoint consultants to look at the renewable energy potential of the islands.
The consultants will review and analyse the business case, economics and cost effectiveness to consumers across the UK of deployment of renewables on the Scottish Islands.
The Intergovernmental Scottish Islands Renewables Steering Group was established last year and is chaired by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, and includes the Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the National Grid, Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission Plc, Ofgem and the relevant island councils.
The group had a second successful meeting yesterday and announced the immanent appointment of the consultants, who will undertake a study on the commercial viability of renewable projects in the islands and their potential contribution to the economy, the barriers to their development, and options for tackling the barriers and report back later this spring.
Western Isles MSP Alasdair Allan said: “If renewables projects in the Western Isles are to be fully viable, then we need a more level playing field in terms of the transmission charges which they face.
“The Scottish Government has made clear its commitment to finding a solution on this by working jointly with the UK Government to reach answers that are fair. It makes no sense at all to penalise the very parts of the country where there is renewables potential, which is the situation as it stands at the moment. I welcome the fact that both governments are now working on this task together and are employing consultants to move this issue forward.”
Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “We know that the islands are the jewel in Scotland’s renewable energy crown, and I am delighted at the work of the Intergovernmental Scottish Islands Renewables Steering Charging Group, which is an excellent example of Governments and stakeholders working together to find a solution to the problem of transmission charges in the Western Isles.
“The planned appointment of consultants to look at the extent of the renewable energy potential we know is present in the Islands, the barriers in place and how we overcome them, is an important step forward.
“This will group is a tangible and positive demonstration of the good working relationships between national and local governments, and a reaffirmation of our commitment to do our best for the islands, working towards our joint ambitions for the future development of renewable energy.”
Edward Davey, UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, commented: “The Scottish Islands are blessed with tremendous tidal, wind and wave renewable resources and we should look to fully utilise this huge potential where we can. I am determined to work closely and constructively with the Scottish Government and other key partners in this important area of work.
“The appointment of consultants will help drive forward work to look at the commercial viability of renewable projects on the Scottish Islands and the overall value for money these projects provide for the UK.”