Environmental campaigners have criticised the UK Government’s decision to award crucial funding to only one proposed offshore wind farm in Scotland as a “nail in the coffin” in its attempts to clean up the energy industry.
Friends of the Earth Scotland’s comments came after a proposed 186 turbine development in the Moray Firth off Caithness lost out on the money at a Department of Energy and Climate Change auction.
The only successful offshore Scottish bidder was the Neart na Gaoithe 125 turbine project in the mouth of the Firth of Forth, 10 miles east of Fife.
The funding, made available under the new Contract for Difference system, aids green energy projects by guaranteeing a price for the electricity produced.
However, Dr Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “The Contract for Difference system is the new way of deciding how much of what sort of renewable energy ends up on the electricity grid.
“These results are very disappointing. Granting a contract to only one Scottish offshore windfarm, and only one other in the rest of the UK, shows how little interest the current UK Government has in cleaning up our energy supply.
“Meanwhile, the UK Government is happy to bend over backwards and spend tens of billions to support risky nuclear schemes like Hinkley Point C. Today’s announcement is another nail in the coffin of the Coalition Government’s ridiculous claim to being the greenest government ever.”
Ten onshore wind farms north of the Border won contracts at the auction.
UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey said: “This world leading auction has delivered contracts for renewables projects right across the UK. These projects could power 1.4 million homes, create thousands of green jobs and give a massive boost to homegrown energy while reducing our reliance on volatile foreign markets.
“The auction has driven down prices and secured the best possible deal for this new clean, green energy.”
Moray Firth Offshore Renewables Ltd (MORL), a joint venture between the UK subsidiaries of Portugal’s EDP Renewables and Spanish giant Repsol have vowed to press ahead with the Moray Firth plans over three sites which could power 700,000 homes.
A spokesman said: “We will continue developing MORL as an innovative, highly competitive project in anticipation of early announcement of adequate Government support in future funding rounds this summer.”
Plans for up to 277 turbines in the nearby Beatrice Offshore Windfarm won backing from DECC a year ago.
Both MORL and Beatrice were given planning consent by the Scottish Government last year.
ScottishPower Renewables’ (SPR) won a contract for its East Anglia One offshore wind farm which was originally for 240 turbines but will start building 100 in 2017.
Niall Stuart, chief executive of industry body Scottish Renewables, said: “With Neart na Gaoithe and the Beatrice development in the Moray Firth, we now have just over 1GW of offshore wind in Scottish waters with funding secured and moving towards a final investment decision.
“This represents a significant volume of projects with the potential to really kick-start offshore wind in Scotland. The success of the East Anglia one scheme is also good news for Glasgow-based ScottishPower Renewables.”
Meanwhile, a report by the offshore industry revealed the cost of energy offshore wind farms has fallen by almost 11 per cent over the past three years.
The Cost Reduction Monitoring Framework (CRMF), was commissioned in 2014 by the Offshore Wind Programme Board, said this was ahead of schedule on its path to delivering the UK Government’s target of £100/MWh by 2020, and provided clear evidence that offshore wind can play a significant role in the UK’s sustainable energy mix in the coming decades.
Onshore Scottish wind farms which won a DECC contract include the 59 turbine Dorenell development on the Glenlivet estate in Moray which may be increased to 63.
Two South Lanarkshire developments, the 26 turbine Kype Muir near Strathaven and 15 turbine Middle Muir project south of Douglas were given the funding.
There was also agreement reached for a 13 turbine Tom nan Clach Wind Farm on the Cawdor estate in Invernes-shire and the 15 turbine Solwaybank scheme near Langholm in Dumfries and Galloway;
Money is also to be given to a 15 turbine Sneddon Law Community Wind Farm north of Galston in East Ayrshire and a 13 turbine Coire Na Cloiche wind farm north of Ardross, Easter Ross. Three other projects in Caitness, Girvan received funding.
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