WESTMINSTER has been urged to follow through on energy sector reforms to Highland renewables, or risk missing climate change goals.

Energy policy is reserved to Westminster. Without change, the rules made there will force domestic market prices up by as much as £391 million per year by 2030, it is claimed.

According to a new paper by SSEN Transmission – part of Perth-based giant SSE – one of the “greatest challenges” facing renewables firms in the north of Scotland is the transmission charges they face.

These are “relatively high” compared with operations in other areas and companies also suffer from the “volatility of charges and the difficulties in being able to accurately forecast changes even a single year ahead”.

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The report says there is a “strong case for review and reform” of the system – which is a “significant barrier to achieving the national target of 40 GW of offshore wind generation by 2030”. That target is part of co-ordinated efforts to cut carbon emissions and limit climate change.

And the report says failure to act could cost consumers a total of £122m and £391m per year in price increases by 2030.

Ben Miller, senior policy manager of green power body Scottish Renewables, commented: “Today’s report from SSEN Transmission highlights how transmission charging currently acts as a barrier to Scotland playing its full part in support of the UK’s ambitious 2030 offshore wind target.

“Scotland’s strong winds, deep waters and offshore expertise mean we have the potential to lead the world in offshore renewables, but harnessing this to its full potential will only be possible by removing the key barrier which the TNUoS [Transmission Network Use of System Charges] charging regime creates. A resolution to this issue is in the hands of the UK Government and Ofgem – government must follow through on its commitment in the recent Energy White Paper to reform the governance and regulation of the energy system.”

SSEN Transmission stated: “With Scotland boasting the greatest wind resource to meet the UK’s net zero targets, and future Scotwind leasing sites expected to deliver up to 10GW of the UK’s 40GW by 2030 offshore wind target, the findings suggest that the current TNUoS regime is creating a huge barrier for further low carbon investment, despite great support for further deployment through UK and Scottish Government policy.”

The National:

SNP business, energy and industrial strategy spokesperson Stephen Flynn (above) said: “Report after report confirms that the current system of transmission charging is penalising Scotland, and this is the latest. Scottish renewables projects are paying huge sums to access the grid while equivalent projects in England are actually paid to connect to the very same ‘national’ grid. This is quite simply renewables robbery.

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“Scotland has the potential to lead Europe in renewable energy, but we are being held back by a Tory Government with no interest in our net zero future, which has left us with the highest transmission charges in Europe. Whether deliberately or through sheer incompetence, the Tories are putting Scotland at a competitive disadvantage. This report makes it clear that Tory transmission charging is a barrier to net zero and it ramps up energy costs for the customers at home – the Tories must get the finger out and sort this blatant injustice or give us the power to fix it ourselves.

“Time and time again the renewables industry and the SNP have pleaded with the UK Government to create fairness in transmission charging across these islands and with every non-answer we get back from a Tory Minister, the people of Scotland are reminded of why this union is no longer fit for purpose.”