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Hebrides News


Some 600 jobs amid an £709 million economic boost for the Outer Hebrides can be achieved by tapping into the islands’ massive renewable energy source, according to the study commissioned by the giant energy developer.


None of the three large wind farms planned for Lewis nor clusters of community owned turbines will be built 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 huge 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.


The UK government has abolished all subsidies for onshore wind farms but may make an exception for the Scottish islands - only if fresh evidence is presented to provide sufficient justification.


If no distinct case for the islands succeeds then proposed windfarms - including plans for community schemes - plus the planned Minch interconnector are extremely unlikely to proceed.


Matthieu Hue, chief executive of EDF Energy Renewables, highlighted installing wind turbines off the coast returns a much poorer deal for the Hebrides.


Mr Hue said: “The effect of large scale of the investment would provide tremendous boost to the local economy and industry.”


In its report for EDF, to be fully published later this month, consultants BVG Associates found there would be a total of £440 million accrued community benefits from wind farms in the Western Isles.


In addition, there would be £149 million generated through construction jobs, people staying in local hotels and eating in restaurants.


Another £120 million would come from building the grid connection.


EDF said: “In total this brings £709 million to the island economy alone. In terms of benefit to the UK economy, the figure would be nearly double this.”


At its peak, more than 600 people would be employed during construction of the wind farms on Lewis and on the subsea cable, according to the report.


Many further employment opportunities will be created once the wind farm is operational both directly and indirectly, it adds.


EDF said the report findings indicates building the wind farms and the subsea connection would help stem depopulation as islanders “would no longer need to leave the island to look for work.”



Loss of wind subsidy risks £700 million Western Isles economic revival warns EDF   

26 January 2017

The Western Isles stand to lose hundreds of millions of pounds if the UK government rejects granting subsidies to island wind farms, warns EDF Energy Renewables, as it reveals figures from a new report.