The Scottish Government has set out ambitions to decentralise the nation’s energy system, making it “localised”, “robust” and “more distributed”. Part of this involves encouraging communities to set up their own renewables schemes, generating green power and important income to support local people. A raft of such initiatives have been springing up around the country over the past decade, with everything from small-scale hydro to solar panels and wind turbines. But cuts in support from Westminster have resulted in a lot of planned schemes being mothballed due to uncertainty over their financial viability. The problem is proving a major stumbling block in the drive to increase the amount of green power going into the mix. But now a group of leading academics and green energy experts has written to The Scotsman, outlining a new plan that could help some projects get off the drawing board. They are calling for practical support from the Scottish Government in the form of a loans system, which would provide a safety net for communities investing in local energy without the back-up of subsidies. The lead signatory, Dr David Toke, an energy policy expert at the University of Aberdeen, has described the idea as a “no-brainer”, claiming it could revolutionise the sector while directly supporting the SNP government’s policies. Against a background of falling costs for renewable energy developments, he believes projects could now be set up without subsidies if ministers were to provide long-term guarantees – perhaps over 15 to 20 years – based on a the wholesale price of electricity. He insists a scheme like this would pose little risk to taxpayers but could offer a big boost to communities trying to raise money to fund investments with long-term paybacks.
Scotsman 10th Oct 2017 read more »