Scottish islands to be able to bid for UK Government wind power contracts

Written by Jenni Davidson on 13 October 2017 in News

Scottish islands will be able to bid for support for wind power in the next round of contracts for difference

Image credit: RES

Wind projects on the Scottish islands will be able to compete in the next competitive auction for less established renewable technologies, known as contracts for difference, in spring 2019, the UK Government has announced.

It has also said that up to £557m of support will be available for future contracts for difference auctions.

There was dismay from the islands in 2016 after the UK Government had excluded island wind power from the last round of contracts for difference, which offer top-ups for less established renewable technologies should the price fall below a certain level.

Central to the debate has been whether island wind power should be considered to be different from wind power on the mainland, since the UK Government had committed to ending subsidies for onshore wind power in its 2015 manifesto.

A 2013 report for the UK and Scottish governments concluded that wind projects on the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland could supply around three per cent of the UK’s total electricity demand whilst potentially creating hundreds of local jobs.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: “Wind projects on the remote islands of Scotland have the potential to generate substantial amounts of electricity for the whole of the UK and I am delighted they will have the opportunity to compete in the next round of contracts for difference.

“This UK Government investment is vital in realising the potential of less established renewable technologies, as well as providing Scottish jobs in the projects supported.

“Clean growth is at the heart of the industrial strategy, and the UK Government is determined to unlock opportunities across the UK, while cutting carbon emissions as the world moves to towards a low carbon future.”

Chair of the Westminster Scottish Affairs Committee SNP MP Pete Wishart said: “We welcome the Government’s announcement that wind power projects on Scottish Islands will be allowed to bid in the next round of contract for difference, the main mechanism for supporting new renewable energy projects.

“Our report in the last Parliament demonstrated the harm that had been done by the removal of subsidies, disrupting confidence and the ability to plan for the long term, so it is extremely welcome that the Government has acted on our recommendation and made future contracts open to wind projects on the Scottish islands.

“These industries are not only vital to the economy of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles, but they are a great example of forward thinking and innovation.

“We hope this is the first step in recognising the value of this sector, and giving it the support it needs and deserves.”

The decision by the UK Government to support islands wind power has been welcomed in the islands.

Leader of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar Roddie Mackay said: “This is very good news for the Islands and the development of the renewables industry.

“The comhairle has been campaigning for this for a number of years and this is another step forward in enabling the Islands to become a major secure supplier of clean, green energy for the UK.

“It would also be of enormous benefit to the economy of the islands and we look forward to engaging with the Government to consider the appropriate levels of funding for the auction.”   

Mackay added that the transmission owner, SSE Networks, had committed to starting work on the new transmission connection for the Western Isles as soon approval was confirmed through the 2019 auction.

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