Charging the wrong way - Ofgem's proposals for Scottish islands
13 Feb 12 - Neil Davidson, Public Affairs Manager
Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles are crucial to our marine
Yet that future could be jeopardised by Ofgem's proposals to
levy unsustainable transmission charges on Scotland's island
The energy regulator has put forward proposals on how to redraw
the map on how generators pay for access to the UK grid.
These proposals, part of their consultation known as Project
TransmiT, go some way to levelling out the charges across the UK -
but still leave sky-high tariffs for the islands.
It is a technical subject, and it is easy to get mired in detail,
but its effect is clear. Under Ofgem's proposals a 100MW wave
project in Wester Ross would face transmission charges of £1
million per year.
Nearly eight times the cost
But move the project 40 miles to the Western Isles, and the
project would face an annual charge of £7.7 million - nearly eight
times the cost, and more than enough to stop it leaving the drawing
board. This is a big concern. The majority of proposed wave and
tidal development in the UK is island based and would face
swingeing island charges.
The Crown Estate has granted 1600 MW of seabed leases to wave
and tidal developers in its Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters
leasing round and a further 125 MW leases elsewhere. Of these, 1150
MW are island based.
In other words 66 per cent, or two thirds of the UK's total
projected wave and tidal energy development aspirations, are
dependent on island connections, at a rate which is patently
We think this is not only unfair, but is discriminatory to island
communities and the marine energy sector, and may be in breach of
EU directives. It also misses the point that marine renewables are
a major opportunity for UK plc.
We are not alone. We have been working closely with the Scottish
Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the islands councils
and trade bodies Scottish Renewables and Renewable UK to put
forward reasonable solutions to what appears (in Ofgem's eyes) to
be a philosophical point - should Scotland's islands be treated as
if they are part of the UK or not?
The answer, to us at least, is clear.
Read Aquamarine Power's response to the Project TransmiT