The UK and Scottish governments have jointly published a report recognising the economic benefits of developing renewables projects on Scottish islands.
The Scottish Islands Renewables Project report concludes that renewable generation, including onshore wind, wave and tidal, on the islands could make a significant contribution to the UK’s 2020 renewables targets. However, considerable costs exist due to the expensive transmission links which would be required to connect with the National Grid.
The report will be used by the Scottish government in its decision-making process in approving future renewable energy projects ahead of other forms of electricity generation.
Energy secretary, Ed Davey, 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.”
Trade bodies RenewableUK and the Renewable Energy Association (REA) have both welcomed the report as vindication of the renewable energy generation potential of the Scottish islands and the contribution the area could make to reducing the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels.
David Krohn, RenewableUK’s wave and tidal development manager said: “The Scottish islands are blessed with great wind, wave and tidal resources, and development there can kickstart our nascent marine energy industry. However, as this report shows, unless action is taken to offset the higher network costs in these areas, we simply won’t see the contribution that we need to from these areas.
“Furthermore, without incentives and mechanisms for encouraging investment in the grid, it is unlikely that we will capitalise on the opportunity to build an entirely domestic industry. That would not only mean the local economies missing out on the job and investment benefits, but also hold up development of our marine resource as a whole. That’s why RenewableUK is urging the UK and Scottish governments to take on this work and ensure it leads to a solution for the islands.”
REA chief executive, Gaynor Hartnell, said: “We welcome the report’s recognition of the economic benefit that renewable energy development brings to the Scottish islands. This economic benefit occurs wherever renewables are developed, but is particularly attractive where other opportunities are limited, as is the case on these islands.
“It is wrong, in the REA’s opinion, to alter network charging methodologies to specially benefit particular types of generation. Charges should relate to the costs that generators impose on the system and locational signals are important and should not be distorted.
“In very general terms, higher network costs are often compensated by stronger winds, but not so in this case as the connection and transmission costs are exceptionally high. Conversely, lower wind speed projects can be economic, if they are located where network costs are lower. The REA view is that locational signals in transmission and distribution help deliver a desirable geographical diversity of renewables deployment.
“We would however encourage the Scottish government to consider assisting wind, wave and tidal energy projects located on the islands, through an explicit industrial policy support programme, in order to realise the significant economic benefits of developing this extensive and valuable resource.”