Scottish renewables progress hampered by grid connection charges, MPs say

The Scottish Affairs Committee has today called for transmission charges and grid investment to be equally shared across the UK to help strengthen the Scottish renewables sector.

It follows concerns raised by a report from the committee that found some renewable projects in England and Wales are paid to connect to the grid, whereas Scottish projects have to pay themselves.

Criticising the competitive advantage, the inquiry also heard if things don’t change there could be issues reaching the net zero target.

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Citing increasing demand for electric vehicles, the review has now called for a review of the grid before the end of next year.

The Scottish Affairs Committee’s visit to EMEC in Orkney.

Scottish Affairs Committee chair Pete Wishart said: “In 2019, over 97 per cent of electricity consumed in Scotland was from renewable energy sources. It is a great success, but more can be done to decarbonise the grid.

“In our committee’s latest report, we have identified the need to ensure Scotland is not left behind in the renewables race and nowhere is this more apparent than within the current transmission charging regime.

“We therefore strongly recommend that Ofgem must now address the issues around transmission charges in Scotland and help us meet net zero.

“We found this is not justly shared across the UK as it currently stands. Scottish developers must be incentivised, not disadvantaged.

“The bold net zero commitments by both the Scottish and UK governments are welcome, but delivery is essential.

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“To meet net zero, the Scottish and UK Government must work together to champion the opportunities Scotland offers, and to work with Ofgem and industry to modernise the grid for our low carbon aspirations and tackle climate change.”

Other recommendations included reinforcing the grid where there is potential for a high renewable energy yield.

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The committee also advised the UK Government to specify Ofgem must consider the financial burden of transmission charges in Scotland.

The committee also said Ofgem should consider the long-term impacts on net zero targets, and ensure renewable energy projects can flourish over the next 30 years, rather than pushing for a short-term, lowest cost view.

It also advised the UK Government to use part of the £12 billion outlined in the Ten Point Plan to invest in a pipeline of renewable energy projects in Scotland.

An Ofgem spokesperson said: “Ofgem is committed to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions at the lowest cost to consumers while making sure generators pay proportionate costs for using the network.

“The current transmission charges mean large generators that are further from demand pay more, reflecting the higher costs of transporting the energy they generate a longer distance.

“At the same time, energy consumers in Scotland generally pay less, because they are closer to the source of generation.

“There are significant wind generation projects both in development and under construction in Scotland, suggesting that Scottish renewables are an attractive investment.

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“However, we recognise the critical importance of renewables in achieving net zero, which is why as part of our broader work we are considering whether transmission charging arrangements are right for the future.”

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