Scotland takes renewables debate to London
The Scottish Government has brought its campaign on the future of renewable energy to Westminster as it renewed calls for the Conservative Party to rethink its recent subsidy cuts.
Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing hosted a Renewables Roundtable event yesterday morning (12 October) to discuss the impact of recent UK Government decisions on renewables which Ewing says are "anti-business, anti-environment and anti-energy security".
"The impacts are spreading right across Scotland and the UK," said Ewing. "It's not just the renewables industry that is affected but also the wider supply chain, including ports and harbours, transmission and distribution, consultancy, communities and the civil engineering sector."
On the agenda
The Roundtable, which included representatives from the renewables industry, environmental NGOs and business organisations, pressed the Tories for clarity on a number of issues including a Renewables Obligation (RO) 'grace period' which includes everything already in the planning system; and a date for the next Contract for Difference (CfD) funding round, to give certainty for developers.
A route to market for new onshore wind farms and concessions for community energy as part of the feed-in tariff (FiT) scheme were also on the agenda.
“These sudden and unexpected shifts have brought about widespread uncertainty and concern and will not only impact Scotland but rest of the UK," added Ewing.
“The UK Government need to consider what urgent actions it can take to restore confidence in the sector with investors. Today’s Renewable Roundtable will help galvanise London based organisations in defence of the renewables sector, and will inform our discussions later today with the UK Government.”
Late last week, the UK Government confimed it would grant a 'grace period' after the closure of the Renewables Obligation subsidy in April that could allow another 2.9GW of onshore wind energy capacity to be built in the UK.
The grace period was announced on the same day that DECC released new figures showing that temperature-adjusted greenhouse gas emissions were down more than 4% year-on-year in the first half of 2015.
Nonetheless, recent moves to curb offshore wind farms, such as Navitus Bay, and reductions in feed-in tariffs (FITs) which reward those who generate their own power through renewable sources, is casting doubt that we can sustain that momentum.
Since May's General Election, the UK Government has overseen significant subsidy cuts for onshore wind and solar, along with the postponement of the next Contracts for Difference (CfD) auction and the scrapping of a key tax exemption for renewable energy.
The UK Government’s own impact assessment revealed that 63 million tonnes more CO2 will be released into the atmosphere as a result of its cuts on renewable energy subsidies. The cuts come despite the UK wanting to take a leading role at the upcoming Paris climate change talks.
“It’s particularly perverse for the Prime Minister to want the UK to play a leading role in the climate talks when his own policies are slashing green energy," concluded Ewing.
The Scottish Government says the feedback from yesterday's Renewables Roundtable wouldl help inform Ewing when he met with the UK Energy Secretary Amber Rudd later in the day.