Scotland expects offshore CfD win
Ewing sees 'policy rationale' but critical of diminished Holyrood influence
Holyrood is confident that a Scottish offshore wind project will emerge as one of the winners from the initial Contracts for Difference auction.
Speaking at Scottish Renewables’ offshore wind and supply chain conference in Aberdeen, Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing (pictured) said: “It is not right that we in Scotland have such a limited say in how Scottish taxpayer’s money is spent, given that there is such strong support for renewables in Scotland, but I am sure we will have a favourable result in this auction.”
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He said he had been disappointed at the UK government’s limited commitment to renewables in the CfD process, which he said would mean only a maximum of 800MW of offshore wind is likely to be funded when results are announced next month.
Ewing added that while he could see a policy rationale for having an auction, the introduction of the CfD process had removed direct Holyrood influence over investments in renewables and the opportunity for policies such as support for floating wind turbine technologies.
He said: “The offshore renewables sector is an important part of our energy mix in Scotland and we remain ambitious for its growth to continue in contrast to the UK government, which persists in making the wrong choices for the energy sector.
“I’m also disappointed there hasn’t been greater recognition of the need to provide the industry with substantial early support and I will continue to push for this."
The Scottish minister said, however, that inter-government discussions, particularly with UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey, had led to some progress. This included an agreement made two weeks ago on funding improvements to connections to the Shetlands and Western Isles, which he said would provide huge opportunities for renewable energy in the regions.
“We are talking about an industry worth £20m to £30m a year in the Shetlands and possibly more than that in the Western Isles,” he said.
Ewing defended Marine Scotland’s role in preparing the consents for four offshore wind farms that were granted last October and is confident they will be successfully defended in a judicial review that has been launched by the RSPB.
“These were robust decisions and I am confident the process will be vindicated,” he said.
Ewing said the industry could still learn more from the oil and gas sector in how to develop in the North Sea, particularly when it came to health and safety and working on supply vessels.
“This is happening but I think we could still learn more on how to operate in some of the most challenging conditions on earth,” he said.
For a full rundown from the conference, see the next issue of subscriber-only newsletter reNEWS.
Image: Scottish Government