The head of one of the UK’s biggest energy groups has called for more wind farms to be built in Scotland while ruling out any more in England. Keith Anderson, chief executive of ScottishPower, predicts technological changes, such as the adoption of electric vehicles, will lead to growing pressure on the grid. Scotland has more than 280 onshore wind farms and close to 200 more either in planning or waiting to be built. They have been opposed by conservation groups, and yesterday projects in the Highlands were rejected by Scottish ministers. A 20-turbine development at Caplich in Sutherland was rejected after a public inquiry because it harmed areas of wild land. A separate inquiry threw out a 13-turbine development at Culachy, Fort Augustus, for the same reason. Andrew Bachell, chief executive of the John Muir Trust, which campaigns to protect wild land, said: “We are delighted at these decisions and pleased the Scottish government is sending out a strong message that our wild and scenic places are of national importance.” The construction of wind farms has fallen since 2016 when they were excluded from auctions that guarantee a minimum price for the energy produced. The UK government estimated that its decision meant that 250 sites across the UK would not be built but last year it opened up the possibility of onshore wind on Scottish islands being treated as a special case and being allowed to bid for contracts in power auction schemes. Some in the industry believe that opens the door for other onshore developments. Ahead of a speech to the All Energy conference in Glasgow today, Mr Anderson said: “Potential renewable development on the islands, although welcome, is a halfway house. In terms of infrastructure costs it’s similar to offshore wind and doesn’t enj oy the low-cost economic efficiency of the opportunities on the mainland.” If onshore wind was given the opportunity to take part in the auction schemes it would mean large investment in infrastructure, he added. ScottishPower is planning to spend £5 billion in the UK over the next five years. Mr Anderson will point out today the economic boost that spending hundreds of millions of pounds in Scotland could bring in terms of supporting jobs and sustaining the industry’s supply chain. ScottishPower’s preference is to expand its onshore wind portfolio in Scotland. Mr Anderson cited the lower cost of building north of the border compared to many parts of England as one factor influencing that decision. The fact Scotland is less densely populated and generally offers better wind yields are other factors.
Times 2nd May 2018 read more »