Subscribe to Holyrood updates

Newsletter sign-up


Follow us

Scotland’s fortnightly political & current affairs magazine


Subscribe to Holyrood
Neil Gray: long waits to access the grid 'utter nonsense'

Las month there were no bids for offshore wind farms in the UK government’s AR5 Contracts for Difference auction

Neil Gray: long waits to access the grid 'utter nonsense'

Neil Gray: long waits to access the grid 'utter nonsense'

Delays on access to the grid “is utter nonsense” and is causing Scotland to miss “one of the greatest opportunities” for “economic transformation”, Neil Gray has said. 

Taking part at a Holyrood fringe event in partnership with OEUK discussing where the offshore wind industry stands in the face of the net zero strategy, the wellbeing economy minister argued that a lack of efficiency around grid connection is drawing investors away preventing a financial “boom similar to the discovery of oil in the 1970s”, as he called for the UK Government to move faster. 

He said: “I'm hoping that we can have more collaborative conversations around access to the grid because that's what I'm getting from potential investors as one of the most challenging aspects, both in terms of supply chain but also in terms of energy. 

“Having to wait in a queue to even have a conversation about whether or not I can get access to the energy that I need at the right price and the right time before I make an investment decision is utter nonsense. 

“This is one of the greatest opportunities that we have for economic transformation in Scotland. This has the potential of releasing an economic boom, similar to the discovery of oil in the 1970s." 

The minister added: “It's a recognition that they're going to need to move faster on grid connections and that they're going to need transition infrastructure to be happening at a faster pace to catch up with the first half of Scotland. But it's not nearly at the pace at which it's good to be meeting our full potential.” 

Amid proposals to develop a pipeline to accelerate Scotland’s export of green hydrogen, Gray argued the project would bring “credibility” to the just transition. 

The minister argued a repetition of the AR5 failure – which attracted no bids for floating offshore wind facilities earlier this year – would put Scotland in a “very difficult situation”, calling for collaboration with the UK government to agree on a suitable price point level. 

“AR6 is going to be, I don't want to say make or break, but it's going to be absolutely critical for the success of Scotland. If we have a failure like AR5 where we had no offshore wind coming through because the price point was so low, then I think we're in a very, very difficult situation. 

"So, I think the first thing that we need to do is make sure that industry and government and other stakeholders are very clear to the UK government around the need to ensure the price point they are setting is at a level that is going to ensure we are going to see continued investment in the offshore wind sector.” 

Stephen Sheal, director of government affairs and policy at the Net Zero Technology Centre shared raising awareness of opportunities for the industry “the talk about changing the world” and preventing the emigration of skilled workers. 

"I am the second oldest student at Aberdeen University at the moment and I work with a lot of really good young kids, and they are not sure they have a future here yet. I talked to them about this fantastic opportunity. I want to see that change. So, we have kids actually not just in Scotland but across our UK recognising that coming into work in these areas, is where you stop talking about changing the world and start to actually do it."  

Dave Whitehouse, chief executive of OEUK called for a halt to the demonisation of the oil and gas industry sector to move the debate forward where the sector is "seen as a partner". 

He said: "I'd like to see the oil and gas industry seen as a partner in the transition, rather than being the culprits because we all use it. We all have a problem because our whole society is based on carbon. So, there's no point demonising the people who produce it. But let's get them on site to change and to transition and to have a different integrated energy model for the 21st century." 

Holyrood Newsletters

Holyrood provides comprehensive coverage of Scottish politics, offering award-winning reporting and analysis: Subscribe

Read the most recent article written by Sofia Villegas - Tess White's Political Spin.

Get award-winning journalism delivered straight to your inbox

Get award-winning journalism delivered straight to your inbox


Popular reads
Back to top