Talks over future of Western Isles renewable energy industry
9 April 2017
Vital talks on the future of the Western Isles renewable energy industry are due
to take place on Monday.
Prospects of a £709 million economic boost are doomed unless the UK Government changes
its mind on scrapping subsidies to island wind farms.
UK energy minister, Greg Clark, recently made it clear the country has enough onshore
turbines to meet targets, insisting focus should turn to new technologies like building
wind generators at sea.
Mr Clark will be urged to make a special exception for the islands during meetings
Otherwise, the policy will be responsible for the collapse to a drive to create vital
jobs and restructure the ailing Western Isles economy on the back of a booming, thriving
renewable energy industry, he will be told.
During a tour through Lewis to Harris, Mr Clark will see wide expanses of empty moorland
with planning permission for planned wind farms held back by his policy.
Also flying in is Scottish Government energy secretary Paul Wheelhouse who will co-chair
the Scottish Islands Renewables Delivery Forum with Mr Clark.
Scottish Office Minister, Lord Dunlop, isles‘ MP, Angus MacNeil, as well as industry
decision makers and Highlands and Islands Enterprise chiefs are also scheduled to
take part in the discussions.
A recent study from EDF Energy Renewables stressed some 600 jobs amid a £709 million
economic boost can be achieved by tapping into the islands’ massive renewable energy
But none of the three large wind farms planned for Lewis nor clusters of community
owned turbines will go ahead without financial support to compensate for the high
cost - up to seven times higher than from the Highlands - of exporting island generated
electricity to the energy hungry southern markets.
That includes EDF’s own joint venture with AMEC Foster Wheeler for a proposed turbine
scheme near Stornoway.
Neither will a £800,000 million subsea cable be built to carry the energy to the
mainland, dashing plans for more community wind schemes to hook into the interconnector.
Lack of a grid connection also threatens development of the massive wave energy resource
to the west of the Hebrides.