Scotland is facing a huge wind farm expansion after Nicola Sturgeon yesterday unveiled measures to support the green energy industry.
The first Minister insisted that onshore wind ‘will continue to be’ central to Scotland’s energy needs as the country moves towards a ‘low carbon’ economy.
She urged the UK Government to bring back subsidies to help the industry expand – and hinted her new ‘Scottish National Investment Bank’ will look to fund the spread of turbines.
Miss Sturgeon also said the planning system will be ‘streamlined’ to help support green energy developments – after one of Britain’s biggest energy firms made a personal plea for larger turbines to be allowed in Scotland.
But Scottish Tory energy spokesman Alexander Burnett said: ‘There is a place for onshore wind in Scotland but the SNP seems to think it will answer all our energy needs.
‘That’s absolutely not the case, which is why we need a balance to keep the lights on.
‘Communities across Scotland already blighted by unpopular and unreliable wind farm development want it to be more difficult for developers to win planning permission, not easier.’
Miss Sturgeon yesterday pledged to support the growth of onshore wind farms as she delivered the keynote address at the Scottish Renewables conference in Edinburgh.
She said she wants the green energy sector to be ‘even more successful in the future than it has been in the recent past’, adding she is ‘determined’ to achieve a target for at least 50 per cent of Scotland’s energy use to come from renewables by 2030 – it is 18 per cent now.
Miss Sturgeon said: ‘That’s hugely ambitious. It will require major changes to heating and transport. It involves an ongoing investment in energy efficiency. It will mean more use of battery storage and of technologies such as hydrogen fuel. And it will also, of course, involve a further very significant expansion of renewable energy.’
Scottish Government figures show there are 3,335 turbines on 285 sites producing 6,747 megawatts of energy.
But another 2,957 are in the development pipeline at 192 sites, which could produce another 11,009 megawatts.
Saying that ‘onshore wind is, and will continue to be, central to Scotland’s energy mix’, the first Minister signalled that green energy projects may be frontrunners for funding from her proposed national bank.
She said: ‘It will provide patient finance for companies, innovations and infrastructure which meet the key challenges our country faces. There are good grounds for hoping the bank will become a cornerstone of the low-carbon, high-tech economy we want to create.’
Meanwhile, Matthieu Hue, chief executive of EDf Energy Renewables, urged reform of the planning system to encourage investment in onshore wind. He said: ‘There’s a large pipeline of projects waiting for a route to market. Given the priority of decarbonising our economy, we must act quickly.’
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