Scottish Renewables

Building industry and planners set to give Planning Bill evidence

Holyrood’s local government and communities committee will continue to examine the Planning (Scotland) Bill tomorrow as it hears evidence from organisations from the country’s builders and planners.

Tammy Swift-Adams, director of planning, Homes for Scotland, Jenny Hogan, deputy chief executive, Scottish Renewables, Gordon Nelson, director, Federation of Master Builders Scotland, Sarah Boyack, head of public affairs, Scottish Federation of Housing Associations and Jonathan Fair, regional managing director – Scotland, McCarthy and Stone will all give evidence to the committee as the proposed Bill is put to the test.

MSPs will then hear from Kate Houghton, policy and practice officer, RTPI Scotland, Malcolm Fraser, consultant architect, Professor Cliff Hague, emeritus professor of planning and spatial development, Heriot-Watt University and Stuart Tait, manager, and Dorothy McDonald, assistant manager, Clydeplan.

Local government and communities committee convener, Bob Doris MSP, said: “The entire purpose of these proposed changes is to strengthen the planning system and boost its contribution to inclusive growth, housing and infrastructure in Scotland.

“The Bill also aims to empower people to have their say on their places more than ever before, so that communities can influence development plans in their local areas.

“Our Committee now wants to find out whether the Bill will deliver an improved planning system and if so, should any improvements and changes be made to the Bill so that Scotland can develop a world-class approach to planning its cities, towns and rural areas in the future.”

A link to the papers is available here and you can watch the sessions online tomorrow via www.scottishparliament.tv.

Final climate change plan published to reduce emissions by 66% by 2032

A Climate Change Plan which sets out in detail how Ministers intend to meet the target of reducing emissions by 66% by 2032, has been published by the Scottish Government.

Scotland is already on track to meet the 2020 target to reduce emissions by 42% and the new Climate Change Plan sets out the Scottish Government’s decarbonisation plans for the period leading up to 2032:

  • By 2032 Scotland’s electricity sector, already largely decarbonised, will be important as a low carbon power source for heat and transport with 50% of all of Scotland’s energy needs to be delivered by renewables by 2030
  • By 2032 transport emissions will have reduced by 37%, the need to buy petrol and diesel cars or vans will have phased out and low emission zones introduced
  • By 2032 emissions in Scotland’s buildings will have reduced by 33%
  • By 2032 woodland will cover 21% of Scotland – up from 18%
  • 70% of all waste will be recycled by 2025.

Revealing the plan, climate change secretary Roseanna Cunningham said Scotland’s successful deployment of renewable energy schemes and the decarbonisation of the country’s electricity system will allow other areas of the economy to play their part in the fight against climate change.

Ms Cunningham said: “We should be proud of the fact that Scotland is already on track to meet its 2020 target to reduce carbon emissions by 42 per cent and has won international recognition for its leadership in this vital area.

“This new Climate Change Plan is designed to build on the successes we have achieved so far, by paving the way for further positive, transformational change in a wide range of areas.

“We have carefully considered the helpful and constructive feedback we received from stakeholders and the UK Committee on Climate Change to ensure that our final plan, which is designed to reduce emissions by 66% by 2032, is both ambitious and realistic.

“It also delivers a range of wider benefits for Scotland. For example, improving energy efficiency will help combat fuel poverty as well as reducing emissions.

“Record levels of investment in walking and cycling, as part of our Active Nation initiative, will make Scotland a healthier and safer country for everyone by cutting pollution.

“And our support for the switch to electric vehicles, and the charging infrastructure they require, will cut greenhouse gas emissions and improve air quality.”

“It is particularly fitting that our plan is published during the Year of Young People, as we will be relying on those young people to help us achieve our world leading climate ambitions.

“We fully recognise that this plan will be challenging to achieve and the journey ahead will be far from straightforward.

“But we have a duty to provide leadership on this this vital issue, while ensuring that Scotland seizes the valuable economic opportunities which the transition to a low carbon economy presents.

“Across the Scottish Government, we are working hard every day to do exactly that and in the coming months we will bring forward a new Climate Change Bill which will raise the bar higher still.”

Responding to the Scottish Government’s final Climate Change Plan, Scottish Renewables said it was “disappointed” to see a significant drop in ambition in decarbonising the heat sector.

Jenny Hogan, deputy chief executive at Scottish Renewables, said: “We welcome the overall ambition set out in the Plan and the reiteration of the target to deliver half of all Scotland’s energy from renewables by 2030.

“We are however disappointed to see a significant drop in ambition in decarbonising the heat sector, with the majority of effort pushed back to after 2025. The carbon targets for both the heat and transport sectors are lower than those recommended by the government’s independent advisors, the Committee on Climate Change.

“We need robust policies in place now to capitalise on Scotland’s world-leading renewable energy industry and to get a head start on cutting carbon in two of the toughest sectors to do so: heat and transport.”

Scottish Carbon Capture & Storage (SCCS), said it was pleased to see unequivocal recognition of the importance of carbon capture and storage (CCS) for reducing greenhouse gas emissions across Scotland.

The plan underlines that CCS is the only way to decarbonise many industries and to provide low-cost, low-carbon heat rapidly. SCCS is fully committed to helping Scottish businesses seize opportunities for CCS use.

Professor Stuart Haszeldine, director of SCCS, said: “Carbon capture and storage can occur at large and small scale, nationally and locally, across the whole economy. We look forward to supporting the Scottish Government’s Climate Change Plan by innovating and assessing opportunities to develop demonstration and larger pilot facilities for CCS and CO₂ utilisation in a swathe of industries across Scotland.

“SCCS will boost the Scottish Government’s ambitions to undertake just, rapid and practical climate action at accessible cost using CCS. Our expertise includes involvement in an EU-funded programme to accelerate CCS use across Europe, a key advisory role in the UK’s CCUS Cost Challenge Task Force, partnerships with business and technology, and an extensive knowledge of the CCS chain, including the necessary geology and technology and the links between policy, finance and regulation.”

Recommendations published for Scottish National Investment Bank

Benny Higgins

Details of the implementation plan for a publicly-owned Scottish National Investment Bank have been published today.

Developed by Benny Higgins, CEO of Tesco Bank, alongside investment professionals, academics, the Scottish Futures Trust, Scottish Enterprise and senior Scottish Government officials, the plan has recommendations covering the remit, governance, operating model and financing of the new bank.

The plan recommends that the bank should:

  • Be publicly-owned and mission-driven, focused on supporting Scotland’s economic priorities and promoting inclusive growth
  • Operate in an ethical and transparent way
  • Cowork to crowd in, not crowd out, private sector investment
  • Be supported by long-term capitalisation of at least £2 billion over the first ten years
  • Become self-sustaining in the longer term, raising its own capital to fund investments
  • Provide long-term, patient finance for both smaller firms and larger projects
  • Create opportunities and new markets for the private sector to invest in

Welcoming the report, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who first announced the plans in September, said: “To realise our ambitions for Scotland’s economy, innovative companies need access to strategic, patient finance to grow and thrive, while the business environment must encourage our young people to be the entrepreneurs of the future. That is why I committed to a publicly-owned national investment bank, which will act as a cornerstone for the economy.

“I thank Benny Higgins and the advisory group for their work to bring this aspiration a step closer. The Scottish Government will carefully consider his recommendations, as we move forward with the creation of the Scottish National Investment Bank.”

Benny Higgins said: “There is an incontrovertible case for creating the Scottish National Investment Bank. The economic and social wellbeing of our country will be enhanced by an institution that complements private sector investment, with a clear focussing on SMEs and projects that require strategic patient capital.

“We have undertaken rigorous analysis through this process and engaged an extensive and broad group of individuals and bodies in both the public and private sectors. There is a strong consensus that there is an immediate and pressing need for the creation of the bank.”

The recommendations will be considered by Scottish Ministers, before a formal response in the Spring.

Scottish Renewables welcomed “positive” comments made by Benny Higgins today as he described renewable energy as a sector “in the crosshairs of what is intended for the Scottish National Investment Bank”.

Claire Mack, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, said: “Scotland leads the world in the development of devices which can capture energy from waves and tides – but these are sectors which are at a difficult stage of their development.

“We welcome comments made by today the First Minister that the new Scottish National Investment Bank will focus on delivering ‘patient long-term strategic investment’ to cater for ‘sectors that the market currently doesn’t’.

“Wave and tidal technologies offer particular characteristics that are helpful in supporting our move towards a new, less centralised energy system and, as we’ve seen in the economic cases behind our island wind projects, can offer wider benefits to smaller, more fragile economies.

“With the right investment, our wave and tidal energy sectors can continue on the path towards full commercialisation, giving Scotland a huge first-mover advantage in an energy sector with enormous global potential.”

£80m strategic energy blueprint unveiled with 50% clean energy pledge by 2030

The Scottish Government has published the country’s first Energy Strategy which it said will strengthen the development of local energy, empower and protect consumers, and support climate change efforts while tackling fuel poverty.

The strategy includes a range of actions, including a £20 million Energy Investment Fund, which will build on the success of the Renewable Energy Investment Fund, and a £60m Low Carbon Innovation Fund, to provide dedicated support for renewable and low carbon infrastructure over and above wider interventions to support innovation across the economy.

An open consultation was conducted at the beginning of the year which drew over 250 substantive responses. Those detailed responses, as well as feedback from the Scottish Energy Advisory Board and responses to further consultations on the onshore wind policy statement, local heat and energy efficiency strategies, regulation of district heating, and unconventional oil and gas, have helped shape, inform and influence the strategy.

The strategy’s six strategic priorities include:

  • Promote consumer engagement and protect consumers from excessive costs
  • Champion Scotland’s renewable energy potential, creating new jobs and supply chain opportunities
  • Improve the energy efficiency of Scotland’s homes, buildings, industrial processes and manufacturing
  • Continue to support investment and innovation across our oil and gas sector, including exploration, innovation, subsea engineering, decommissioning and carbon capture and storage
  • Ensure homes and businesses can continue to depend on secure, resilient and flexible energy supplies
  • Empower communities by supporting innovative local energy systems and networks

During a statement to the Scottish Parliament yesterday, business, energy and innovation minister, Paul Wheelhouse, also announced that the latest figures from the Energy Saving Trust show a 12% increase in the level of community and locally owned renewable capacity operating in Scotland, which now sits at more than 660MW.

Wide engagement and public consultation on a publicly owned energy company is planned for 2018. The aim is that this company will support economic development and contribute to tackling fuel poverty, as well as being run on a not-for-profit basis.

Mr Wheelhouse said: “Scotland has world class skills, expertise and knowledge, from the North Sea oil and gas industry to our academic institutions and smaller start-ups to our cutting edge low carbon technology.

“This strategy recognises and builds on our achievements to date and on Scotland’s capacity for innovation. It places consumers, and their interests, more firmly than ever at the heart of everything that we do.

“We are leading the way in promoting community and locally owned renewable energy – well ahead of the rest of the UK – as figures announced today demonstrate.

“This strategy will guide decisions of the Scottish Government over the coming decades. We want to make sure, within the scope of our devolved powers, good stewardship of Scotland’s energy sector – something we have called the UK government to step up to for years.”

Responding to the publication, Gina Hanrahan, acting head of policy at WWF Scotland, said: “It’s great to see the Scottish Government cement its ambitions to deliver half of our energy from renewable sources by 2030. In uncertain times for investment, it is a strong statement that Scotland is open for low-carbon business and plans to build on its fantastic progress on renewable electricity in the heat and transport sectors.

“A transformation in how we heat our homes and offices, how we travel to work and school, and how we power our industries will generate many social and economic benefits. Independent research for WWF Scotland shows that this is necessary to deliver climate change targets and can be delivered with existing technologies.

“To ensure a truly effective, joined-up strategy, more effort needs to be put into developing policy to reduce our demand for energy in the first place. The Scottish Government needs to enable people to get out of their cars, insulate their homes and improve the energy efficiency of their businesses. With growing demand for the Climate Change Bill to increase our ambition in line with the Paris Agreement, a clearer vision and bold, substantive policies will be needed more than ever. The final Climate Change Plan, due in February, should be the real test of whether this strategy is given teeth.”

Sam Ghibaldan, head of the Consumer Futures Unit (CFU) at Citizens Advice Scotland, stressed the importance of consumer engagement and protection as the first theme of the Scottish Government’s Energy Strategy.

He said: “As we journey to a low carbon future the energy market will be disrupted, and consumers’ interests should be put first as new structures and technologies are adopted.

“New systems must be easily understood by householders, and their rights must be clear. The CFU, as the independent energy consumer advocate, will ensure the consumer voice is heard during the development of energy efficiency and district heating policy, and in other areas addressed by the energy strategy.

“As the energy system of the future evolves it is critical that consumers are considered, empowered and protected if change is going to succeed.”

Scottish Renewables said the new renewable energy target contained the strategy shows “huge ambition”.

The goal, suggested by the industry body in January 2016, will see half of all energy – for heat, transport and electricity – coming from renewable sources by 2030.

Claire Mack, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, added: “Scotland’s first Energy Strategy heralds a new era for the energy system used by us all, and provides a roadmap for others to follow.

“For the first time, the Scottish Government has set out a holistic plan for how we produce and use energy, breaking down the barriers between electricity, heat and transport.

“The huge ambition of the new target is to be commended. The Strategy creates a framework for us as an industry, Scotland’s policymakers and the public to think in different ways about energy supply and demand.

“It should also provide much-needed impetus to tackle issues like the decarbonisation of our heat supply, levels of fuel poverty and the challenges presented by the roll-out of electric vehicles.

“Of particular note is the 50% renewable energy target contained in the Strategy, which sends a strong signal to industry that renewables should take its place the heart of our economy.

“Previous targets laid the foundation for the rapid growth of Scotland’s renewable energy industry – an industry which already employs 26,000 people, invests hundreds of millions of pounds every year and displaces the equivalent carbon emissions of our entire transport sector.

“This new target has the potential to do the same not just for the continued growth of our renewable electricity sector but also for heat and transport, where action to decarbonise is urgently needed.”

Budget: £4 billion allocated for Scottish infrastructure

Derek Mackay

An allocation of over £4 billion of funding for infrastructure which includes a £756 million contribution to the Scottish Government’s target of delivering 50,000 affordable homes by 2021 were amongst a range of investment plans set out in the 2018-19 Draft Budget by finance secretary Derek Mackay.

The infrastructure investment, which is in line with the Programme for Government commitment to invest £20bn over the life of this parliament, also includes beginning the procurement of Scotland’s £600m universal superfast broadband programme to be delivered over the next four years; investing £60m in Low Carbon Innovation Fund to deliver innovative low carbon energy infrastructure solutions including for electric vehicles and investing £1.2bn in transport infrastructure, including key road projects and further electrification of the rail network.

Publishing the Draft Budget to parliament yesterday, Mr Mackay set out a programme that will also:

  • Deliver the first £70m of a new £150m Building Scotland Fund to unlock new house building, develop new low carbon commercial property and support research and development
  • Set aside £340m for initial capitalisation of the Scottish National Investment Bank
  • Drive regional economic growth by more than doubling investment in city region deals.
  • Deliver £18m as part of a £65m package of investment for the National Manufacturing Institute to make Scotland a global leader in advanced manufacturing

Responding to the announcement, David Melhuish, director of the Scottish Property Federation, said: “We welcome the creation of the Building Scotland Fund to support innovation in both housing and commercial property development as well as the capitalisation of the Scottish National Investment Bank.  Access to finance remains challenging in a severely risk-averse environment for developers looking to innovate with real estate projects and with the economy set for subdued growth in the next few years, the real estate sector can act as a positive driver of growth that will support jobs and investment in places to work, live and relax.

“The decision to use CPI as the measure of inflation rather than RPI is welcome but we believe that Scottish Ministers should not become tied to increasing business rates by this measure annually as was once the case with the RPI measure.  The economy is growing but only just and we feel that the freedom to increase rates by less than CPI should be considered in future budgets if the economy continues to struggle.

“New commercial development, or redevelopment has the potential to increase and to boost the economy and enhance the tax base.  The confirmation of the support for new build is welcome though we remain concerned that the potential restriction of listed building rate relief will deter the regeneration of listed buildings for business purposes.  This could have significant implications for struggling town centres and clear guidance to local authorities on restricting rate relief will be important.”

The country’s home builders said the Budget recognises economic importance of housing investment.

Chief executive of industry body Homes for Scotland, Nicola Barclay, said: “With home building in Scotland supporting over 60,000 jobs and contributing billions each year to the economy, we are pleased to see the Scottish Government confirming its ambition for the housing of all types our country needs.

“As well as a significant funding increase for affordable housing, the additional funding for skills bodies, colleges and universities that will help to plug the skills gap, is also welcome.

“The Land and Buildings Transaction Tax relief for First Time Buyers up to the first £175,000 of the purchase price could be a valuable boost for those aspiring to get on the property ladder, representing additional money towards their deposit or moving costs. However, given that this is not due to become effective until 2018/19, we are concerned that any delay may have a potential impact on purchasing decisions in the short term.

“Of particular note, however, is the establishment of the new £150m Building Scotland Fund which will have a prominent housing and infrastructure focus to support interventions that will further accelerate and scale up housing delivery. With the funding and delivery of infrastructure a major housing blocker, we keenly await further details in the new year.”

The Scottish Budget also followed Chancellor Phillip Hammond’s lead with a tax break for first-time buyers.

Under the plans, first-time buyers will be given a helping hand with a new land and business transaction tax (LBTT) relief for properties worth up to £175,000. As many as 80% of first-time buyers will now be exempt from paying any of the tax when buying a new home.

The move comes after Chancellor Philip Hammond exempted first time buyers from stamp duty – the equivalent tax in England – for homes up to the value of £300,000. Scottish ministers say lower house prices in Scotland means £175,000 is a roughly comparable figure north of the Border. Mr Mackay said the move will “make home ownership a reality for more of our young people.”

But the move does not go far enough according industry body the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors in Scotland (RICS Scotland).

Hew Edgar, RICS policy manager for Scotland, said: “Whilst this change has the potential to stimulate activity in the short term, it comes at a time when the market is subdued, and does not tackle the overarching problem of housing shortage supply across all tenures. This government must realise that prioritising demand side measures is not conducive to market fluidity and will do little to solve the chronic shortage of suitable accommodation across Scotland’s housing options.”

He added: “Once again, we call on Scottish Government to review the current LBTT as a priority going forward as this current framework is not only limiting market activity, but could ultimately bring the market to a standstill. That said, we hope that the ‘Building Scotland’ fund will provide the required support for alternative models of housing delivery.

“On a more positive note, the £600m investment in providing superfast broadband – ensuring the last 5% of Scotland’s ‘non-spot’ dwellings – will be connected to the fourth utility by 2021, will be greatly received.

“As part of £4bn investment in this budget – £1.2bn of which will be directed towards transport – tackling the infrastructure deficit is always welcome. But Mackay held back and gave little away as to where the funding will be directed. He also missed an opportunity to attract and retain top talent to Scotland by not building on Scotland’s infrastructure success of the Queensferry Crossing, with no addition of noteworthy projects to the infrastructure pipeline.”

Innes Smith, chief executive at Springfield Properties, said the announcement was “a positive step forward” for the housebuilding industry in Scotland and for people who need homes.

He added: “With its progressive outlook, the Scottish Government remains determined to improve the housing situation across Scotland. A greater proportion of first-time buyers will be exempt from paying LBTT, making buying a first home more attainable. We are pleased to see the ongoing commitment to funding affordable housing and the large investments in infrastructure and superfast broadband which support the development of new housing.

“We are confident today’s news on LBTT, the Scottish Government’s £756m commitment to affordable housing and funding for further action on homelessness represents real action for those in need.”

Claire Mack, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, said: “The Scottish Government’s continued commitment to renewable energy is of course to be welcomed, particularly as its final Energy Strategy will be published within days.

“It is encouraging that the Government recognises renewable energy as a key driver of Scotland’s economy.

“Of note are the funds allocated to support both low-carbon innovation and the decarbonisation of the heat sector – a task which is of critical importance if we are to tackle climate change.

“We also welcome the reaffirmation of the Government’s intention to follow the suggestions contained in the Barclay Review of business rates and to link increases to the Consumer Prices Index, both of which will benefit new and existing green energy generators. We are pleased that Scottish Renewables’ recommendations on these points have been heeded.

“We will continue to work to understand the full implications of the detail contained in the Budget document for our members and look forward to working with the Scottish Government as the measures outlined in the Budget and upcoming Energy Strategy are implemented.”

Independent cost of energy review published

Domestic-energy-use--fuel povertyAn independent review into reducing costs in each element of the electricity supply chain has been published by the UK government.

Building on the government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, Professor Dieter Helm CBE was asked in August to consider the whole electricity supply chain of generation, transmission, distribution and supply.

In the review, Professor Helm CBE puts forward proposals on how to reduce costs in the power system in the long-term whilst ensuring the UK meets its climate change targets.

The report follows the plan set out in July by government and Ofgem to upgrade the country’s network to a smarter energy system, and the publication of draft legislation on an energy price cap to keep families’ energy bills as low as possible.

Views of industry, businesses, academics and consumer groups on Professor Helm’s review will now be sought.

Business and energy secretary Greg Clark said: “Homes and business depend upon reliable, affordable power and the government is ambitious in its plans to keep costs as low as possible for them over the coming decades.

“We are already taking significant steps to upgrade our energy infrastructure as part of the Industrial Strategy and have published draft legislation to cap poor value energy tariffs helping millions of consumers across Britain.

“I am grateful to Professor Helm for his forensic examination. We will now carefully consider his findings.”

Scottish Renewables said the report marks an important contribution to the UK’s energy conversation.

Jenny Hogan, deputy chief executive of Scottish Renewables, said: “This report is an important contribution to the ongoing discussion on the long-term future of our energy system, and our industry will play its full part in this conversation while the UK government seeks views on the report’s conclusions.

“We welcome the report’s recognition of the rapidly falling cost of renewables and its aim to find a way to meet carbon targets and deliver security of supply at lowest cost.

“Government’s own figures show that the cheapest forms of new power generation are onshore wind and solar PV, with the costs of other technologies like offshore wind falling rapidly, so it’s crucial that all forms of renewable energy have a viable route to supplying power to consumers, and that the cheapest technologies are not blocked from competing in auctions for power contracts.

“We now look forward to working with government on achieving the goals set out in the Clean Growth Strategy, and with industry to ensure that the cost reductions happening across the sector can continue apace.”

Sturgeon officially opens world’s first floating wind farm

HywindThe world’s first floating wind farm was formally opened by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today.

Situated about 15 miles from Peterhead, Statoil’s Hywind project has seen five giant turbines installed using a floating approach which allows turbines to be installed in much deeper waters than conventional offshore wind farms.

The 172-metre turbines are almost four times the height of the Forth Bridge.

Norwegian energy firm Statoil has been working on developing Hywind for more than 15 years.

Power generated by the project will be brought to 20,000 homes.

This wind farm is positioned in water depths of up to 129m, whereas those fixed to the seabed are generally at depths of up to 50m.

Statoil believes the technology has the potential to work in water depths of up to 700m.

Ms Sturgeon said: “This pilot project underlines the potential of Scotland’s huge offshore wind resource and positions Scotland at the forefront of the global race to develop the next generation of offshore wind technologies.

“In addition to the green benefits of renewable energy, it also has a very significant contribution to make to our economy.

“I’m pleased Scottish suppliers have contributed to the Hywind project from the development through to the production phase and are still involved to investigate long-term potential for floating wind.”

Welcoming the official opening, Claire Mack, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, said: “Hywind’s presence in Scottish waters is a reminder that, as the windiest country in Europe, and with some of the deepest waters and most promising offshore wind sites, Scotland is perfectly placed to capitalise on floating turbine technology.

“Our unique offshore supply chain and the skillset it supports put us at the forefront of the deployment of these innovative machines.

“That deployment, through sites like Hywind and the Kincardine project further south will help lower costs for this young sector, increasing the opportunity for Scotland to take advantage of a significant future global market.”

Gina Hanrahan, acting head of policy at WWF Scotland, said: “With around a quarter of Europe’s offshore wind resource in Scotland, it’s great to see the world’s first floating windfarm inaugurated off our coast. Offshore wind is already an industrial success story across the UK, cutting emissions, creating jobs and dramatically driving down costs. By demonstrating the commercial viability of floating wind, Scotland can help to develop the industry in new frontiers and deeper waters.

“With this kind of innovation and investment, and continued political support, Scotland will continue to power towards our target of securing half of all our energy needs form renewable sources by 2030.”

Island wind projects eligible to apply for share of £557m renewable subsidy auctions

renewables wind farmUp to £557 million of support will be available for future Contracts for Difference auctions with wind projects on the remote islands of Scotland able to apply for the first time, the UK government has confirmed.

Energy minister Richard Harrington revealed yesterday that the funding will be made available for the next clean electricity auctions for less established renewable electricity projects to be held in spring 2019.

The last competitive auction to bring more renewable projects into the market ended in September and brought forward commitments for enough electricity generation to power 3.6 million homes. It secured 3.2GW of electricity from offshore wind projects including the Moray East offshore wind farm which will provide 950MW of capacity, capable of powering over 950,000 homes.

A 2013 report for the UK and Scottish governments concluded that wind projects on the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland could supply around 3% of the UK’s total electricity demand.

With over 700MW of wind projects with current planning consents on these islands this announcement gives certainty that the UK is an attractive place to invest. This will also benefit the skilled UK supply chain, with many projects expected to spend over 50% of their capital and operating costs within the UK.

Ahead of the launch of the UK government’s Clean Growth Strategy, Mr Harrington said: “The UK government’s Clean Growth Strategy has set out how the whole of the UK can benefit from the global move to a low carbon economy.

“Scotland already has a strong record in exploiting the potential of clean growth, with more than half of Scottish electricity consumption coming from renewable sources.

“We want to go further creating thousands of good jobs and attracting billions of pounds worth of investment. That’s why we are ensuring that remote island wind projects in Scotland, which have the potential to benefit the island communities directly, have access to the same funding opportunities as offshore wind in the next renewables auction round.”

Scottish secretary David Mundell added: “Wind projects on the remote islands of Scotland have the potential to generate substantial amounts of electricity for the whole of the UK and I am delighted they will have the opportunity to compete in the next round of Contracts for Difference. This UK government investment is vital in realising the potential of less established renewable technologies, as well as providing Scottish jobs in the projects supported.

“Clean Growth is at the heart of the Industrial Strategy, and the UK government is determined to unlock opportunities across the UK, while cutting carbon emissions as the world moves to towards a low carbon future.”

Scottish Renewables welcomed the clarity provided by the announcement but said it is “disappointing” that no commitment has been made to allow onshore wind and solar PV to compete for contracts.

Chief executive Claire Mack, said: “Today’s Clean Growth Strategy provides some important commitments from the UK Government which will further our transition to a low-carbon economy.

“The renewed support for offshore wind deployment and innovation, and the commitment to work with the industry on a Sector Deal, is to be welcomed, and will help move the UK towards its goal of reducing carbon emissions while delivering affordable energy and clean growth.

“It is however disappointing that no commitment has yet been made to allow onshore wind and solar PV – the cheapest forms of new power generation – to compete for contracts to sell the clean power they produce.

“With cost reduction recognised as an important part of the continued growth of our low-carbon energy system, it is startling that cheap, popular onshore wind and solar PV are excluded once again from plans for the UK’s energy future. We now look forward to seeing the outcome of the Government’s Cost of Energy Review, where we expect to see these lowest-cost technologies recognised as crucial for the delivery of cheap, clean power for Britain’s homes and businesses.

“Today’s announcement also brings some certainty for less-established technologies, with the commitment of £557 million to be made available for another power contract auction round in Spring 2019. We welcome the announcement that onshore wind projects on Scotland’s remote islands, as well as wave and tidal energy technologies, will be allowed to bid alongside offshore wind and biomass heat and power. It remains imperative, however, that Government use the tools at its disposal to support wave and tidal technologies along the path to full commercialisation and cost reduction.

“We welcome the many positive announcements on heat and transport, and the commitment to work with industry to set out an effective long-term market framework for the heat sector beyond 2020.

“Despite the positive steps detailed in today’s Clean Growth Strategy, the Government still expects to miss the fifth carbon budget unless it purchases international carbon credits.

“While the announcements made in the Strategy on cutting carbon in the heat and transport sectors in particular are welcome, the Government will need to go further still if it is to meet its legal requirements on climate change and its global commitments under the Paris Agreement.”

World firsts dominate Scottish Green Energy Awards shortlist

Statoil's Hywind Scotland, the world’s first floating wind farm

Statoil’s Hywind Scotland, the world’s first floating wind farm

A raft of offshore energy world firsts dominate the shortlist for the prestigious 2017 Scottish Green Energy Awards which was announced today.

The largest tidal stream array on earth, the first floating wind farm, the company which installed the largest and most powerful marine energy device in the world and the first tidal turbine array will all vie for gongs at the ceremony on November 30.

The 40-strong shortlist, drawn up from almost 100 entries, also features:

The Scottish Green Energy Awards, which will be held in Edinburgh on November 30, will be addressed by the Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson MSP and hosted by TV comedian Hardeep Singh Kohli.

Also shortlisted are companies including Scottish Water Horizons, Statoil and Wood Group.

Jenny Hogan, deputy chief executive of Scottish Renewables, the industry body which organises the awards, said: “Every year we see some of the best and brightest from our industry come through the Scottish Green Energy Awards’ judging process, and 2017 is no exception.

“What Scotland is doing – using renewable energy to drive economic growth, cut carbon emissions, heat homes and create jobs – is an exemplar for the rest of the world, and the unique achievements highlighted today show that more clearly than ever.

“These are people and projects of which everyone in Scotland should be proud.”

Matthieu Hue, CEO of EDF Energy Renewables, the event’s headline sponsor, said: “Scotland continues to be at the forefront of growth and innovation in the renewable sector.

“I am delighted to see acknowledgement of these achievements in the shortlist for this year’s Scottish Green Energy Awards. The judges have a diverse list to choose from and I look forward to the winners being revealed in November.”

The full 2017 shortlist is:

Best Community Engagement Award

  • Lochaber Rural Education Trust and HWEnergy – Biomass SOS Project
  • Coigach Community Development Company and Scottish Wildlife Trust – Ben Mor Hydro 500kW Shared Ownership Project
  • The ACCESS Project

Best Community Project Award

  • Berwickshire Housing Association – Hoprigshiels Community Windfarm
  • Coigach Community Interest Company – Coigach Community Wind Project
  • Edinburgh Community Solar Co-operative
  • West Harris Trust – Talla na Mara

Best Innovation Award

  • Bright Green Hydrogen, Fife Council and Toshiba – The Levenmouth Community Energy Project
  • National Grid and University of Strathclyde – Enhanced Frequency Control Capability (EFCC)
  • Scottish Water Horizons and SHARC Energy – Borders College Campus sewage energy recovery system
  • SP Energy Networks – Future Intelligent Transmission Network Substation (FITNESS)

Carbon Reduction Award

  • Bright Green Hydrogen, Fife Council and Toshiba – The Levenmouth Community Energy Project
  • McDermid Energy Solutions – Cormac Engineering Biomass District Heating System
  • The Royal Highland Centre – Biomass Heat Pod

Outstanding Project Award

  • Atlantis Resources – MeyGen
  • Nova Innovation – Shetland Tidal Array
  • Statoil ASA – Hywind Scotland

Renewable energy projects win 15-year contracts after UK government auction

Beatrice offshore wind farmTwo Scottish renewable energy projects which will power more than one million homes have been awarded 15-year contracts after a UK government auction.

The Moray East Offshore wind farm, planned for the Moray Firth, has been awarded a contract in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s second competitive clean power auction at a price substantially lower than previous auction rounds. The project is scheduled to start generating power in 2022/23.

The result was one of three UK offshore wind projects to win a Contract for Difference (CfD) in the auction, which together signalled a considerable drop in the cost of the technology –50% since the first auction in February 2015.

Grangemouth Renewable Energy Limited also received a CfD for its dedicated biomass with CHP plant, which will be delivered in 2021/22, at a price significantly lower than the Government’s administrative strike price.

The two projects, once built, will together generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 1,136,100 homes.

Welcoming the results, Scottish Renewables’ deputy chief executive, Jenny Hogan, said: “The results of this latest auction are good news for Scotland, for our environment and for our energy system.

“The cost reductions seen in offshore wind in particular have been dramatic and are testament to the determination of developers to drive down costs. The scale of innovation taking place across the sector and its growing supply chain show the importance of ensuring a viable, competitive route to market is available for clean power technologies.

“The biomass CHP plant at Grangemouth has also demonstrated significant cost reduction.

“However, onshore wind and solar are currently excluded from competing in Contracts for Difference auctions. The government has the tools to drive down costs even further and these technologies can and should be allowed to play their role in delivering the government’s own Industrial Strategy.”

Ms Hogan added: “We hope to see all renewable technologies getting the chance to bid in future auction rounds and to demonstrate just how cheap they can be.

“The government must now set out in its Clean Growth Plan a clear plan for cutting emissions further from the UK’s energy system, and provide certainty to investors over the timing for further auctions rounds for all technologies.”

Offshore wind cleared at prices of £74.75 per megawatt hour (MWh) for projects which will begin generating power in 2021/22 and £57.50/MWh for those commissioning in 2022/23.

At these prices, offshore wind is now substantially cheaper than new nuclear, with Hinkley Point C awarded a power contract at a price of £92.50MW/h.

Dedicated biomass with CHP cleared at a price of £74.75, against an administrative strike price of £115.

Ronnie, Quinn, chief executive of Crown Estate Scotland, which leases seabed to developers and passes rent profit to Scottish Government, said: “More certainty for Scottish projects can only be a good thing. Offshore wind directly benefits communities across Scotland by creating jobs, reducing climate change emissions and contributing to the profits that Crown Estate Scotland passes to the public purse.”

He added: “Offshore wind is an affordable and reliable source of large-scale power that is driving spend in the UK supply chain.”

The announcement comes as new data revealed that wind power output in Scotland increased by over a third in August on same period last year.

Analysis by WWF Scotland of wind and solar data provided by WeatherEnergy found that enough electricity was generated last month to power nine out ten of all Scottish households.

The environmental charity WWF Scotland said the 846,942 MWh of energy produced equates to the average energy needs of 2.25 million (93%) of Scottish homes – up 34% on the 629,603 MWh produced in August 2016.

Enough wind power was generated to potentially supply 100% or more of Scottish homes on nine days in the month and met more than 100% of total Scottish demand from homes, business and industry on two days.

Wind farms produced enough electricity to power almost half (48%) of Scotland’s total consumption for the month of 1,776,118 MWh.

On the most productive day, August 19, wind power covered the equivalent of 158% of Scotland’s total demand or nearly five million homes while on the least productive day it managed 20%.

WWF Scotland’s acting head of policy, Gina Hanrahan, said: “Renewables are working, creating jobs and investment and cutting carbon and thanks to clear policy ambition we are now a leading global player.

“August was another great month for the wind sector, providing the equivalent of 93% of the electricity needs of Scotland’s households.

“On August 19 alone, output from turbines generated enough electricity to power nearly 5 million homes or 158% of Scotland’s total electricity demand.

“Month after month renewables are continuing to play a vital role in cutting carbon emissions and powering the Scottish economy.”