Government consultation announced over remote windfarms as uncertainty continues

Uncertainty continues to surround major windfarm projects in the isles – with the UK government launching a consultation on whether onshore projects in remote islands should be treated differently.

North Isles MP Alistair Carmichael has been pushing for a higher minimum ‘island strike price’ for green energy made in the isles, and said he was disappointed with a consultation, rather than a decision on the issue.

Mr Carmichael, said: “The Conservatives have systematically dismantled every piece of support that Liberal Democrats put in place while in government.  So while I am bitterly disappointed by today’s news I am not really surprised.

“I do not really see that there is much to be had for the isles from this consultation but we shall have to look at the detail first.

“The idea of a separate pot of money for marine renewables may be the very thin silver lining in an otherwise very dark cloud. Again we shall have to see the detail of what is proposed.”

Today the department for business, energy and industrial strategy  gave more details for the next Contracts for Difference auction, where companies will compete for £290 million of contracts for renewable electricity projects.

The bidding round takes place in April next year, though whether the major Viking Energy project can take part will depend on the consultation outcome.

That process closes in January.

According to the UK government it is “looking to end uncertainty over whether onshore wind projects on remote islands should be treated differently from onshore wind project on mainland Great Britain.

“A consultation is being launched today asking for views which either support or oppose this position which will be reviewed to provide a comprehensive answer.”

The consultation paper states: “In 2013, the previous government issued a consultation on additional support for island renewables. This consulted on a proposal to provide a separate strike price for onshore wind projects located on the Scottish islands of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles within the Contracts for Difference scheme.

“It was suggested that these island groups were identified as exhibiting a particular set of unique characteristics which could justify a different support level to that set for onshore wind on mainland Great Britain, as well as placing it in the less established technology pot.”

It adds its purpose is: “Seeking views on its position that non-mainland GB onshore wind projects should not be classified as a separate technology nor allowed access to Pot 2 (less established technologies), but should continue to be treated as onshore wind.

“This consultation is to seek evidence on this issue from respondents. Should this result in, for example, new evidence or strong justification being provided, the Government is open to considering the possibility of distinct treatment for non-mainland GB onshore wind projects.”

Viking Energy’s head of development Aaron Priest was also disappointed with the news.

He said:”At a time when the Viking project continues to progress its plans, we are disappointed by today’s announcement from the UK government.

“Over the past year or so, government ministers have signalled continued support for island renewables. The decision to hold a further consultation into how to overcome the already well-documented barriers to establishing renewable generation in the remote Scottish islands is not what we expected.

 “We continue to believe that a massive opportunity to deliver value to Shetland remains to be won by securing a sustainable renewable energy industry for the islands.

“We will be meeting with the Secretary of State to discuss the implications of the decision to exclude Scottish island projects from the forthcoming CfD round and to instead hold another round of consultation.”

Last week the Westminster government was urged to commit to large-scale renewable projects.

A joint letter signed by SIC political leader Gary Robinson, other island group leaders, as well as Deputy First Minister John Swinney was sent to UK Secretary of State Greg Clark.

It urged Mr Clark to end uncertainty over which types of renewable energy would be supported.

More in Friday’s Shetland Times.



Add Your Comment
  • David Spence

    • November 10th, 2016 2:20

    I would guess the Government (since the Tories love and worship any thing USA) wants to spend more money supporting US companies who will be over here drilling the ground for the sake of fracking. It would not surprise me if the money which may have been ear-marked for cleaner alternative energy will go straight into the hands of the companies doing fracking………and much more of the tax payers money going into the coffers of US companies once TTIP gets in full swing…………………despite what Donald Trump may have said (although I think he may have been speaking broadly about trade with Europe and the EU and not the UK (to which he welcomed with open arms, Brexit?) in regards to trading with countries outwith the USA.

    • Stuart Hannay

      • November 10th, 2016 11:36

      It’s ok, David, according to Mr. Trump, there’s no such thing as global warming.

    • John Tulloch

      • November 10th, 2016 22:23

      David, the level of fuel poverty in Shetland is reportedly over 50 per cent. US electricity costs about half of the UK price, which is down to their stunningly successful exploitation of shale gas.

      Halving the UK price would remove fuel poverty as a serious problem.

      By advocating so-called “clean energy” at 2-3 times the price of conventional energy and banning fracking, you are clearly untroubled by the cost of energy and the plight of the fuel poor – once again, a kind of “I’m alright, Jack”, socialism.

      Meanwhile, China is planning to increase coal power by 20 per cent over four years – more than the entire power generation capacity of Canada!

      • David Spence

        • November 11th, 2016 13:54

        This may be a question you may not be able to answer John, but do you think with the government stopping subsidies for wind energy, and focusing their efforts on shale gas production in the near future, this will, in affect, put a stop to the Viking Energy Project?

        Electricity may be cheaper for the US customer, but I feel that in the case of fracking or any other source of energy in terms of the production of electricity (not taking into account the massive cost of the proposed Hinkley nuclear plant in the south of England) the UK pays well over the odds for such a resource or this is the perception?

        I suspect millions of tax payers money will be used in proping up the fracking companies here in the UK, and the necessity for developing and using cleaner alternative energy will take a backseat approach by this government.

        I also suspect that nuclear energy electricity production will become more prolific in the near future, as a means of reducing fossil fuel emissions (slightly contradictory in regards to shale oil production and use).

      • John Tulloch

        • November 11th, 2016 18:43


        Given the economics of the VE project i.e the need for a special “island strike price” (2-3 times conventional energy) to make it viable in the first place, the need for a hideously expensive submarine cable and gas turbine generators to stand by for when there is too little wind, I would say VE is unrealistic, even in the absence of shale gas. More economic ways of reducing carbon dioxide emissions are available.

        For those who worry about CO2 emissions from coal generators, shale gas with lower emission levels will provide an interim solution (the US is down to early 1990s emission levels).

        You’re right that, longer term, nuclear power (from small modular reactors (SMRs) which are factory built and transported to site), is likely to become more common with less emphasis on monolith projects like Hinckley Point and Sizewell.

  • ian_tinkler

    • November 11th, 2016 13:37

    “Trump” has well demonstrated how the average man is well pissed off by business/political/liberal Green elitism. Just look who gets really, really, really rich with wind farm exploitation. Landlords, Lairds, Bankers and power company execs. Its poor “Jo public” footing the bill through power bills, taxes and bank charges/interst. Viking Energy, with interconnector and back up generator, a cool 2 billion pounds plus before anything generated by the wind!!

  • i tinkler

    • November 12th, 2016 9:38

    Whatever one’s views on Global Warming. The actual reality. Even the SNP have woken up and now permit the mass import of “Fracked Gas” from the USA> It is the only way, to power Grangemouth, as expensive Green Energy would bankrupt Grangemouth in days. Does Shetland want to use the “lemming Power” of Viking Energy.? For the equivalent cost, every house and home in Shetland could have its own power source from Solar and tidal, all it takes is a little vision and “honest”, knowledgeable and intelligent politicians.

    (The brutal truth, not exactly Green)

    • John Tulloch

      • November 12th, 2016 11:39

      Personally, solar and tidal will be a waste of time and money in Shetland. There’s little sun and a small tidal range and you still need conventional cover for winter, nights and slack tide.

      I’d settle for a gas supply, piped, bulk supply or bottled, delivered to every home and building in Shetland, including, for SSE’s proposed new Rova Head power station and motor fuels.

      Purchased direct from Sullom Gas Plant at the international gas price, marked up to cover necessary investment and delivery – say, 4-5p/kWh at consumer terminals?

      Fuel poverty and carbon dioxide emissions slashed, at a stroke.

      What’s ‘not to like’?

      • i tinkler

        • November 12th, 2016 18:12

        So would I, John. Just giving an alternative for those who are religiously Green. Sackcloth and self-flagellation are a bit dated, so let us make bankruptcy, fuel poverty and dark cold winters on the sacrificial altar of renewables a straw to clasp!

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