Associate Feature: Tackling challenges faced by the Scottish renewables industry
Scotland continues to be world-leading when it comes to renewable energy. However, to enable to us to reach net zero targets, the various challenges facing the industry need to be tackled now.
From grid infrastructure that is not fit for purpose to lengthy planning decisions, a lack of resources for government departments and skills shortages across the board, urgent action is needed on multiple fronts to enable a transition to net zero.
Continuing to expand and invest
EDF Renewables UK continues to invest and expand in Scotland, with over 200 employees across the country.
We currently have 10 operational onshore wind farms in Scotland, ranging from the 19-turbine 38MW Longpark wind farm in the Scottish Borders to the 177MW 59-turbine Dorenell wind farm in Moray.
We have 1.5GW of projects in the pipeline for onshore and offshore wind in Scotland and at various stages.
We continue to progress our plans to help Scotland meet net zero – reaching key milestones on projects across the country.
Later this year our 30MW West Benhar wind farm in North Lanarkshire will be completed and construction continues to progress at our 84MW Stranoch wind farm in Dumfries and Galloway.
Our flagship offshore wind farm, Neart Na Gaoithe in the Firth of Forth, is due to be completed in 2024. Once commissioned it will have a capacity of 450MW, which is enough power to supply around 375,000 homes – offsetting more than 400,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year1 . The total investment for the NnG offshore wind project is around £2 billion; it has created more than 100 direct jobs, with many more throughout the supply chain.
Planning applications have also been submitted to the Scottish Government’s Energy Consents Unit in recent weeks for Watten wind farm in Caithness and Dunside wind farm in the Scottish Borders.
In addition to this, we have also announced plans for a new development – the 400MW Liddesdale wind farm in the Scottish Borders. This will bring significant benefits to the local economy and supply chains surrounding the project, including significant funds through a Community Benefit Fund for the local projects and initiatives. We have placed the community at the heart of this project, and earlier this summer presented our initial plans at local in-person events and local agricultural shows.
As one of the leading renewable energy companies in the UK, we take a transparent and personal approach with our communities and stakeholders.
Following its success last year, we welcomed more than 100 people to Fallago Rig wind farm near the Lammermuir Hills for Doors Open Day at the beginning of September, showing them the benefits the wind farm brings to the local economy, giving them the chance to speak to the site and project teams and understanding more about how we work with our communities. We also offered sessions to stakeholders, including MSPs and MPs, to visit the site and learn more about what we do.
We work closely with our communities across all of our projects and our community benefit funds across the country continue to make significant differences for initiatives locally. Last year in Scotland £1.59million was awarded; already in the first half of this year over £1.7million has been awarded.
This has included grants for educations and training, biodiversity projects and tangible skills such as driving lessons and learning new skills to change jobs. In the Scottish Borders we awarded £75,000 to the local ice rink to allow it to buy more modern equipment to maintain the ice and secure its future.
We continue to work with our partners across the renewables industry in Scotland to compile the Onshore Wind Sector Deal which sets out how we will achieve the new onshore wind target of 20GW installed capacity by 2030. This will soon be published and we look forward to working with the Scottish Government to deliver this.
Setting clear targets for onshore wind development across Scotland and the UK, coupled with supportive policy enhancements, will significantly increase investment and market confidence. However, the industry wants to work with government to build on this favourable environment for investment and ensure that Scotland, and the UK, maximises the growth of its supply chain in the sector.
To meet the challenge of net zero, we must scale-up the growth of renewables right across the UK and the industry has set an ambition for 30GW of onshore wind by 20302 .
Across our UK portfolio, hydrogen is increasingly pertinent, with ongoing investigations into viable partnerships in Scotland.
Barriers and challenges
As mentioned, there continues to be multiple barriers impacting on the development of renewables in Scotland, hampering deployment, reducing investment in the UK-based supply chain and increasing consumer bills. Government, industry and regulators all have a role to play in overcoming these barriers.
The grid challenges faced in rural areas of Scotland continue to create issues in the timely deployment of renewable energy and the potential for new developments.
We need investment in education to equip the current and next generation with the skills necessary to advance technology and allow the renewables industry to thrive.
Scottish Government has an important role to play in communicating the need for more transmission capacity to the National Grid ESO and Ofgem.
While renewables continue to be the cheapest way of generating electricity, it is important to note that the costs of key components for renewable technologies have risen significantly over the last year.
We need to be more ambitious when it comes to setting the Contract for Difference (CfD) budgets. While the CfD scheme is not a Scottish Government responsibility, it has a role in explaining to Westminster the scale of opportunity and benefits of further renewable energy development in Scotland.
While we welcome the final National Planning Framework 4 (NPF4), we want to see the planning process streamlined with appropriate site selection and design being a priority in decision making.
Planning policy and guidance does not always support the most up-to-date and efficient turbine designs with higher tip heights, used as standard internationally, which would deliver even better value for consumers in suitable high-wind UK sites.
Resourcing and capacity by local planning departments and statutory consultees is one area which has stilted applications progressing through the system and needs to be better supported if we want to meet our net zero targets and tackle climate change.
Calls to Action
The Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme is vital for the long-term deployment of renewable energy projects and provides important visibility to the supply chain to invest in renewables for the long term. We want to continue to ensure a consistent route to market exists via the CfD auction. We would like to see greater support especially for emerging technologies such as floating offshore wind which, if properly supported, could help the UK maintain its position as global leader in offshore wind.
We must enable quicker planning decisions in Scotland. We wholeheartedly support the Scottish Government’s clear backing for renewable energy by placing significant weight on the contribution of development proposals to renewable energy generation targets and greenhouse gas emission reduction targets in NPF4.
It is in the interest of everyone to bring forward large volumes of renewable projects as fast as possible both in terms of enabling a smooth transition and providing the best value for consumers. At EDF Renewables UK, we’re dedicated to making this ambition a reality.
1 Based upon the average domestic electricity consumption per home of 3,889 kWh per the Energy Consumption in the UK (published July 2017) and Renewable-UK offshore wind average load factor at 37.2%.
2 The Vision for Onshore Wind in Scotland. Annex 5.
This article is sponsored by EDF Renewables