SCOTLAND’s renewable energy industry has warned that a sudden end to subsidies for new onshore wind farms could lead to a hike in bills for businesses and consumers.
The new Conservative energy secretary, Amber Rudd, has signalled that she plans to end subsidies to the operators of new wind farms, with the details expected to be confirmed in this week’s Queen’s Speech with a view to the change being brought in next year.
Niall Stuart, chief executive of trade body Scottish Renewables, which represents 100 organisations working in onshore wind in Scotland, said it was “hard to square the UK government’s commitment to cut carbon emissions in the most affordable way, whilst pledging to end any support for the cheapest form of renewable electricity that can be deployed at the scale we need to meet our climate change targets”.
Stuart said the industry has cut costs significantly in recent years and was committed to further reductions as it makes progress towards matching the cost of power from new conventional generation by the end of this decade.
“A sudden change in support will reduce deployment and threaten the work being done to reduce costs in a phased and managed way,” he said. “Indeed, it could actually push up bills if any shortfall required to meet our targets has to be made up by more expensive generation.”
Gordon MacDougall, of renewables developer RES, which has a base in Glasgow, said a sudden end to support for new projects would hit progress being made by the industry towards being subsidy-free in the medium-term.
“Onshore wind now stands on the verge of being able to compete on a purely commercial basis with other, more mature, forms of energy generation without requiring new subsidies in the 2020s – and it would be in no-one’s interests for this important opportunity to be squandered,” he said.
MacDougall said retaining the recently Contracts for Difference support scheme for onshore wind was a “key stepping stone to a subsidy-free future”.