Over the past period there has been some media comment and speculation about the future direction of renewables in the Outer Hebrides.
Much of this comment has had little regard to the factual position in which the Outer Hebrides finds itself. It may be useful to outline some of the key facts around the present position. These facts are as follows:
- both the distribution and transmission network in the Outer Hebrides are at full capacity and therefore no further connections are possible – including connections for community generators
- the UK Government has created a new technology category called Remote Island Wind to allow developers in the Scottish Island to compete in the 2019 Contracts for Difference auction
- Contracts for Difference are now the only support mechanism for wind and other forms of renewable energy generation
- the 2019 Contracts for Difference auction will require generators to demonstrate that they have planning consents and a grid connection offer in place
- only generators with these planning and grid consents will be able to compete in the auction
- as of today’s date the only developers who hold the appropriate consents are Lewis Wind Power and Forsa Energy
- if both these organisations are successful at auction it will provide the required certainty for the electricity grid owner to invest in a new grid infrastructure to the Outer Hebrides
- new grid infrastructure, for the foreseeable future, is therefore totally dependent on a successful auction outcome
- the only way that new grid and a renewables industry will emerge in the Outer Hebrides, in the foreseeable future, is if Lewis Wind Power and Forsa Energy are successful at auction in 2019
- by extension the only way the additional generators (including community generators) will be able to connect, in the foreseeable future, is if Lewis Wind Power and Forsa Energy are successful at auction in 2019
I hope the addition of the basic underpinning facts of where we presently stand in regard to renewable energy is a useful addition to the debate.
Calum Iain Maciver
Director of Development
Comhairle nan Eilean Siar