Progress on Scottish Island renewables

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The UK and Scottish Governments have published a report which considers the evidence base for developing renewables projects on the Scottish Islands.

The report – Scottish Islands Renewables Project - shows that while there are significant potential benefits to developing renewables on the Scottish Islands, there are also considerable costs that need to be overcome. Key conclusions are:

- Renewable generation, including onshore wind, wave and tidal, on the Scottish Islands could make a significant contribution to the UK’s 2020 renewables targets.

- The cost of deploying renewables is higher than comparable projects on the mainland, due to the expensive transmission links that would be required.

The work has been guided and assisted by a Steering Group, with representatives from the island communities, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and the transmission companies.

Edward Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change said: “The Government is keen to unlock the potential for the development for renewable energy on the Scottish Islands, but it’s vital that projects represent value for money for the consumer.

“The report being published marks a considerable step in progress towards making decisions about supporting renewables investment on the Scottish Islands.

“I am grateful to the renewables industry, communities in the Islands, and the Scottish Government - who have all participated so enthusiastically in this research.”

Fergus Ewing, the Minister for Energy Enterprise and Tourism said: “This report is a huge step forward to understanding some of the challenges facing renewables developers in each of the main Scottish island groups. Scotland’s islands are rich in renewable energy resources, and this independent report makes absolutely clear that they can make a cost-effective contribution to 2020 renewables and decarbonisation targets if issues around grid access and high transmission charging can be addressed.

“The report will now help the UK and SG to assess the range of possible options for addressing the challenges facing island renewable developers.

“Publication today marks the end of the first phase of the intergovernmental work to understand the barriers to generation on the Scottish Islands and views on the report are invited. We are already progressing a robust analysis of all the options. We recognise the need to do this swiftly – and we aim to complete this later this summer.”

The Government, with support from the Scottish Government, will use the report to weigh up the costs and benefits of renewable generation on the Scottish Islands against other sources of electricity, considering the impact on the local economies and communities, and importantly on wider GB consumers.

Commenting Western Isles MP, Angus MacNeil, said: “This in-depth report proves what we on the islands already knew – that there is a huge renewable energy resource here that the market has so far failed to release the potential of.

“This report sets out the sort of incentive required to harness the renewables of the islands and pitches the level of incentive between that provided for onshore wind and offshore wind – illustrating that island renewables are competitive with other forms of energy generation, that the incentives required are perfectly achievable, and are – for example – far less than that required for wave or tidal.

“Future opportunities for renewable generation on the islands – developed in co-operation with, and with the agreement of island communities – are to be welcomed.”

Cllr Angus Campbell, Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said, “This report is an excellent piece of work that reiterates and underlines the policy position and arguments that Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has been advocating for the past 10 years. The Report clearly demonstrates that the on-shore renewables sector offers the Outer Hebrides potential for significant new economic development.

“It demonstrates that the Outer Hebrides has an opportunity to make an important contribution to Scottish and UK renewables and decarbonisation targets and importantly it shows that Island wind is competitive with other low-carbon technologies. The Report also confirms what the Comhairle has been warning about repeatedly over the years - that there are significant challenges for the Scottish Islands, particularly the barriers around transmission charges and grid access.

“It is now essential that these barriers are clearly addressed in order to allow renewables projects in the Scottish islands to move to implementation and I look forward to this Report being a launching point for rapid progress being made on these two critical issues. Time is of the essence and I look forward to Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission submitting the ‘Needs Case’ for the Outer Hebrides inter-connector to OFGEM without further delay.

“I would also call on SHET to publish in full the timings for the Outer Hebrides interconnector project and where they are with that process as there is a real danger that we are running out of time to capitalise on the renewables resources of these Islands.

“We- and I mean the Islands, Scotland and the UK- cannot afford to miss that opportunity.”

For more on what the report says see this week’s Stornoway Gazette, out tomorrow (Thursday 16th).