THE THREE islands councils seeking greater decision making powers have welcomed a proposal by Fergus Ewing to convene a Scottish island energy summit early in the new year.
The Scottish energy minister is unhappy with the extent the UK government is prepared to support the renewable energy developments in Shetland, Orkney and the western isles.
Earlier this month, the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) set the strike price for wind energy projects on the Scottish islands at £115/MWh, compared to £90/MWh on the mainland.
This week, the energy regulator Ofgem announced that they would delay their review of energy transmission charges by one year until 2015 (Project TransmiT).
Ewing described both announcements as a “missed opportunity” claiming the subsidy regime might not be enough for some of the projects planned in the Scottish islands to get off the ground.
In contrast, Viking Energy, the company behind plans to build a 103-turbine wind farm in Shetland said it was unfazed by both announcements.
A spokesman for the company said the strike price of £115/MWh had already been proposed as early as September, and a delay in reviewing transmission charges would have no impact on the project, which was only due to be connected in 2018.
Political leader for Shetland Islands Council, Gary Robinson, did not respond to a request for an interview to explain Shetland’s intentions at such a summit, but in a statement issued by the Scottish government welcomed the announcement.
He is quoted as saying: “It is important that a positive dialogue continues between all parties towards a solution which can work for all three of Scotland’s island groups.”
It is widely understood that the special island strike price is not enough for projects in the western isles, while marine renewables in Orkney would also require a higher subsidy to become viable.
Fergus Ewing said: “The evidence that has underpinned work to date sets out different requirements for each of the islands and we had expected to see different strike price arrangements for each to reflect this.
“Developers will now need to assess whether this support will work for them. If, as the evidence suggests, it will not, I will work with all of the Scottish islands councils, and will move swiftly to bring UK ministers and all interested parties together to assess whether anything further can be done to help deliver a positive outcome for each island group.
“The decision from the UK government could result in a huge missed opportunity if it does not work for all three of the Scottish Island groups.”
He added: “Renewable energy on Orkney, Shetland and the western isles has the potential to provide up to five per cent of GB electricity demand by 2030, and create tens of thousands of jobs.”
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