MAJOR wind farm plans in Shetland will not be affected by Thursday’s announcement that subsidies for new developments will be scrapped from next year.
While the Scottish government and environmental groups denounced the move by the new Tory government in Westminster as a retrograde step, wind farm groups in the isles said they would not be impacted.
Viking Energy’s head of development Aaron Priest explained that their 103 turbine scheme was not part of the renewables obligation (RO) subsidy system that is to be dropped.
“Viking is not an RO project and intends to submit a competitive bid for a ‘Contract for Difference’ or CfD in the next CfD bidding round," he said.
“As a remote island project, Viking is in a different CfD technology band from mainland located onshore wind and expects to compete on that basis.”
Paul Riddell, who chairs the Energy Isles consortium planning a wind farm in the north isles, added: “Our project is dependent upon the interconnector that will come to connect the Viking Energy wind farm to the national grid, so it was always outwith the scope of the renewables obligation system which had been due to come to an end in 2017.
“We will work towards gaining planning consent and if we are successful will seek to bid in to the new auction process for a Contract for Difference (CfD).
“Both the UK and Scottish governments remain committed to renewables development in the Scottish islands.”
Meanwhile Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing said the UK government’s decision could go to judicial review.
He said ending the subsidy was “deeply regrettable” and “irrational” as it would lead to greater subsidies being spent on offshore wind farms.
He added that it would have a disproportionate effect north of the border where 70 per cent of onshore wind farms were planned.
“The UK government have chosen to place at risk a huge investment pipeline, conceived in good faith by developers based on statements from the UK government,” he said.
He also warned that there was still no information from the Department for Energy and Climate Change about the future of the Contracts for Difference scheme, under which the island wind farms are being planned.
Environmental charity WWF said the subsidy cut was “especially contradictory” as it came shortly after the European Commission warned the UK was going to miss its 2020 renewables target.
However energy and climate change secretary Amber Rudd said the UK was “well on the way to meeting its climate change targets”.
“We want to help technologies stand on their own two feet, not encourage a reliance on public subsidies," she said.