Energy boss warns Tory cuts could kill onshore wind power

ScottishPower Renewables chief Keith Anderson is calling for Westminster to demonstrate support for onshore wind. Picture: John Devlin
ScottishPower Renewables chief Keith Anderson is calling for Westminster to demonstrate support for onshore wind. Picture: John Devlin
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The boss of one of Scotland’s biggest energy firms has warned that construction of onshore wind farms could grind to a halt if Westminster does not offer an urgent commitment to the future of the industry.

Keith Anderson, chief executive of ScottishPower Renewables, fears the sector is now facing a major setback due to a lack of clarity on green energy from the UK government.

The Tories have pledged to end subsidies for onshore wind next year, and no new plan has been put in place.

However, various support mechanisms are in place for electricity generated from gas, nuclear and offshore wind.

Mr Anderson is calling for wind farm operators to be issued with Contract for Difference agreements guaranteeing a minimum price for the power they produce.

He says the contracts would offer security for investors and help safeguard future development in the industry.

The cost of wind power has come down dramatically since the first turbines were rolled out in the UK.

Mr Anderson has denied he is asking for handouts for onshore wind, but rather for the playing field to be levelled.

“We continue to look at good sites for developing onshore wind,” he said.

“We believe we can demonstrate that onshore wind can be developed at a sensible cost compared to other forms of power generation in the UK.

“We are not asking for subsidy, but it does require us to work with government to find a way of creating some clarity and a framework for investment. All we are seeking is a level playing field with other forms of power generation.”

UK ministers said their position on the issue has not changed.

Industry leaders accused Westminster of “locking future development out of the energy market”.

Lindsay Roberts, senior policy manager at Scottish Renewables, said: “The Committee on Climate Change, their own advisors, say if we are to stand any chance of meeting our climate change targets we need to at least double our renewable energy capacity.

“So it’s vital that the UK government tells us what the future of onshore wind is going to be and that they simply allow it to compete in that energy market.”

Mr Anderson spoke out as his firm undertakes its busiest ever construction period, driven by a scramble to erect turbines before the Renewables Obligation is axed in April.

Work is under way on a total of 221 turbines at eight sites across Scotland, which will generate enough new green energy to supply nearly 300,000 homes.