Onshore wind farm developers on Scottish islands will be given cash incentives to build more turbines, Energy Secretary Ed Davey has confirmed.
Subsidies for onshore wind projects in the islands of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles would be higher than the rest of the UK at £115 per megawatt hour (MWh).
Mr Davey said the proposed strike price would bring a “significant amount of cost-effective generation” – 400MW of capacity by 2020, generating 1.5TWh of electricity every year.
Scottish Renewables welcomed the announcement as an “important step forward” by the UK Government after years of campaigning by the renewable energy industry and the islands’ councils.
Chief Executive Niall Stuart added: “While the move does not reduce the cost of connecting to the grid for projects in the Scottish islands, which we understand to be six or seven times higher than charges on the mainland, it does at least help new onshore wind developers mitigate against these high costs.
“We will now be working with our members to ensure that the proposed support is enough to make projects on the islands economic and for investments to go ahead.”
Scotland’s Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said the subsidy plans must benefit all islands: “Mr Davey specifically mentioned Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles… it is therefore incumbent upon him to find a solution that benefits all of our island communities and the Scottish Government will hold him to account to ensure that is delivered.
“I also find the timing of this announcement surprising given the UK and Scottish Governments have not concluded discussions over the detail of the proposals. We will continue to engage with the UK Government on this issue to ensure we get the correct incentive to release the huge potential for electricity generation from the islands.”
Mr Ewing, however, welcomed the Energy Secretary’s emphasis on the “continued importance of Scotland’s renewables generation to meeting the electricity generation challenge facing the UK”.
Subject to consultation, which will last for six weeks, the island-specific strike price will be included in the first Electricity Market Reform (EMR) Delivery Plan to be finalised in December this year.
New figures from the Scottish Government earlier this year revealed communities across Scotland are receiving £5 million a year from onshore wind farm operators.