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Industry wants isles connected by 2020

Viking vista: Local deloper Viking Energy hopes to build a 103 turbine wind farm on mainland Shetland.

THE RENEWABLE energy industry in Scotland has called for Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles to be connected to the national grid before 2020.

The industry organisation Scottish Renewables has called for interconnectors to the three island groups as part of its demands for the energy sector after last week’s independence referendum.

One of the organisation’s six demands is to unlock the renewable energy potential of the Scottish islands by connecting them to the grid.

In their paper Harnessing Scotland’s Energy, the organisation said these connections would enable a significant increase in onshore wind capacity and help Scotland and the UK meet its renewables targets.

They are also key to developing new technologies, such as floating wind, wave and tidal power.

“All of these have the potential the potential to make a significant contribution to our future energy needs and to our economy, but will be held back without the delivery of grid,” the paper says.

Chief executive Niall Stuart said: “If there is one obvious failure of the current regulation of our industry it is the lack of grid connections to Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles – home to the country’s best wind resources, and key to the development of wave and tidal power.

“We want to see the Scottish and UK governments commit to getting the islands connected before 2020. No ifs. No buts. No maybes.

“This will allow the islands to contribute to the cleaning-up of our energy sector, while benefitting from the jobs and investment that would follow.

Scottish Renewables is calling on both the Scottish and UK governments to honour their commitments made to the islands during the independence campaign to unlock their renewable potential.

They want the two governments to work together to ensure island generators are able to secure financial support through the Contract for Difference (CfD), for which they are currently unable to apply because their grid connection dates are outwith the window for applications.

This, they say, threatens to de-rail investment in transmission lines indefinitely.

They also say Ofgem’s current transmission charging framework has been designed to discourage investment in areas where the potential to generate electricity exceeds local demand.

Scottish Renewables want the UK government to devolve more powers to Scotland about community ownership of wind farms, and wants the two governments to pool resources to invest in developing marine energy.

On Tuesday isles MP Alistair Carmichael highlighted the economic benefits of marine energy to Orkney and Shetland following the publication of a second industry report; Marine Milestones.

“We all know that the main barrier to development is grid connections. The UK and Scottish governments have already an Islands Working Group, which is making the case for new cables.

“Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, is also talking to Commission officials in Brussels about their consent for the higher “strike price” for wind energy on the isles.

“This is one of the areas where the islands councils could most obviously make a difference using the agreements won as part of the Our Islands Our Future campaign.”