Energy Secretary Ed Davey announced that renewables firms will be given additional incentives to encourage them to build windfarms on Scottish islands in a groundbreaking move that will see a guaranteed price offered for the first time.
Davey said this initiative would see the massive potential that is inherent in the Scottish islands unlocked in areas such as Orkney, Shetland, and the Western Isles.
He added that it could lead to hundreds more windfarms being erected off the mainland, potentially generating an additional 400 MWh for the National Grid and helping to lower energy prices for consumers in the long run.
The guaranteed price for the Scottish Islands will sit at £115, which is considerably more than the £100 proposed to come into effect as of 2014-15 for the UK mainland.
Scottish windfarms have ‘massive potential’
It’s the first time that such a high price has been attributed to a specific area of the UK, with Davey saying it is a necessity to uncover the real possibilities on offer in the Scottish islands.
The minister added that the move would help address the unique needs of the area, and would help to keep bills in Scotland affordable.
He said: “People have been waiting for this decision to be taken, no one has taken it before, and we are delivering it.
“We think it’s going to be extremely good news.
“It’s going to enable them to develop these windfarms, to sell that electricity, that green energy, and they will create jobs and economic activity.”
Subsidies could kick start development
Ministers are hoping that the new incentive scheme will help to overcome the cost of connecting windfarms to the mainland. It is believed to cost companies between six and seven times as much to connect to the mainland power supplies than it does for those farms already based there.
However, the new guaranteed price should help offset these sizeable charges and allow investors and developers to see the benefits of working there.
Davey said the ball is now in the court of investors, whom he said can now come forward and ensure that the islands share in the UK-wide move towards more green energy.
Move is greeted ‘cautiously’ by renewables industry
The move was generally greeted with praise from those in the renewables industry in Scotland, although some noted that there was still a piece of the puzzle missing.
Scottish Renewables chief executive Niall Stuart said that the move gives no certainty over the future of marine renewables, which is very much an important part of the sector in the Scottish islands.
“We will be pushing the Department of Energy and Climate Change to give this exciting sector the level of certainty it needs if we are to get projects built on Scotland’s islands – home to the best wave and tidal resources in Europe,” he added.