Energy minister to hold island summit today

Scotland’s Energy Minister, Fergus Ewing, and the leaders of Scotland’s three islands councils, will today convene in Stornoway for an energy summit.

The meeting was planned following the recent Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) announcement of additional support for Scottish island wind - £115/MWh, compared to £90/MWh on the mainland.

The minister has the described summit as a chance to clarify what can be planned for the future of the islands’ renewable energy ambitions and to look at where immediate action can be taken to overcome grid connection issues.

Scottish Government analysis shows that island renewables can deliver up to five per cent of GB electricity demand by 2030 support tens of thousands of jobs and contribute in excess of £30 million a year in community benefits.

Mr Ewing has commented that Renewable energy generation on the islands presents “a massive opportunity for sustainable economic growth”.

Speaking ahead of today’s summit the Energy Minister said: “Thousands of jobs and millions of pounds of community benefits will give current and future generations the ability to thrive in our island communities.

“Progress has been made in recent months and I welcome the fact that the UK Government has listened to Scottish Government calls for additional support for onshore wind on the islands. However, some important administrative and regulatory hurdles remain to be addressed.

“Key uncertainties remain over both the level of support for renewable generation and the cost of using the transmission network. These uncertainties have effectively created an impasse between the key players, with nobody so far able to take the final steps to unlock necessary investment in grid infrastructure.

“The only way to address these issues is through greater coordination and co-operation between the key players and that is why the island Council leaders and I have called for all these parties to convene today in Stornoway. The summit will consider the issues holistically and look to establish where immediate action can be taken to overcome the barriers to progress.

“I have no doubt that the summit will take us further forward by clarifying what can be done now and what needs to be planned for the future. Today is an opportunity for us all to work together in driving forward change that will help the future generation.”