Integrated GB electricity market will boost renewables and lower prices in Scotland

A new electricity market bringing together Scotland's transmission networks with the grid in England and Wales should push down prices in Scotland and open up lucrative new markets for Scottish generators, Energy Minister Mike O'Brien said this week.

The new arrangements will come into force on April 1st and also include plans to limit the charges that renewable generators in the Scottish Islands have to pay to the National Grid in order to transmit electricity to customers across Britain.

“Scottish generators are set to benefit from the new single transmission system because, for the first time, they’ll have real access to the wider British market, without the added complexity of negotiating and paying for the use of the existing interconnector between the two networks,” Mr O’Brien said. “For Scottish consumers, opening up competition will provide greater choice and see the sort of downward pressure on prices previously enjoyed by consumers in England and Wales.”

The announcement should also help unlock Scotland’s wind, wave and tidal power potential and help contribute to the UK target of 10% electricity from renewables by 2010. Some of the most attractive locations for wind and wave power are in very remote locations, yet could produce 1300MW of electricity by 2010 into the grid.

“By limiting the charges renewable generators have to pay to transmit their electricity to customers across Britain, we’re ensuring at this early stage that remote location does not stand in the way of attracting the necessary investment,” Mr O’Brien said.

The move was welcomed by the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA). Richard Ford, Head of Grid and Technical Affairs said: “This announcement is a shot in the arm for the renewables sector in Scotland. Wind is critical to meeting our 2010 renewable target and Scotland is at the heart of our push to rapidly expand the delivery of new wind energy projects as it has the best resource in the UK. Ensuring that new renewable projects are not penalised by excessively high transmission charges is fundamental to maintaining progress in Scotland and to delivering a strong renewable market into the future.”

The new arrangements to create a single wholesale electricity market were announced in the energy act of 2004 as the British Electricity Trading and Transmission Arrangements, or BETTA.

By David Hopkins

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie