A report commissioned by the Scottish and UK governments has highlighted steps necessary to unlock the renewable energy potential of Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles.
Prepared by independent consultants Xero Energy, the report will be considered by the inter-governmental Scottish Islands Renewable Group, and has been welcomed by windfarm developers Viking Energy.
Viking Energy was actively involved in submitting evidence to the study which is designed to tackle the remaining grid issues facing Shetland and the Viking Wind Farm.
Viking Energy Shetland chairman Alan Bryce said: “The publication of the report is another welcome step in the process of building the certainty that island developers require before they can make major investment decisions.
“It is heartening to receive continuing encouragement from ministers who wish to see world-class renewable energy projects coming to fruition in the Scottish islands. Both governments now have very clear advice about the best potential solutions and we are confident good progress can be made over the coming months.”
The report’s key findings relate to:
● Certainty for developers about the longevity of support that underpins the business case for grid developments;
● Stability of grid charges;
● Loan guarantees;.
● Research funding support for marine technology grid connections;
● Continuation of the inter-governmental island steering group to oversee co-ordination and delivery of support provisions.
According to a statement from the Scottish government, both governments recognise the significant contribution renewable energy generation on the Scottish Islands could make to both Scotland’s and the UK’s 2020 renewable energy targets and the governments’ longer term climate change ambitions.
The report commissioned jointly by the governments is part of on-going collaborative efforts to support the development of renewable energy projects on the three Scottish island groups and deliver jobs, investment and wider community benefits.
Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing said: “I welcome the publication of the Xero report, which will help us to address the critical remaining barriers to new transmission connections for the Western Isles, Orkney and the Shetland Islands.
“The three island groups share significant challenges in getting grid connections off the drawing board in time to access support within the timeframe of the first Electricity Market Reform Delivery due to long lead-times and high costs for sub-sea connections – typically upwards of four years to achieve approval and to build. The findings from the report will help us deal with these issues.
“There is a wide acknowledgment across both the Scottish and UK governments that the Scottish Islands hold huge renewable energy potential, which could make a substantial contribution to both governments’ 2020 renewable energy targets and longer-term climate change ambitions.
“Our collaborative approach is based on this shared understanding and through the work of the inter-governmental Scottish Islands Renewables Group, we will continue to build momentum towards delivery of these vital connections.”