Renewables Could Boost Scottish Islands

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Scotland’s island economies could benefit from up to £725 million over the next 25 years from renewables projects according to an independent report published this morning.

Scottish islands have some of the best renewable energy resources in Europe – from wind, wave and tidal. The Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland have the potential to supply up to 5 per cent of total electricity demand in the GB market by 2030.

The report, which was commissioned by the Scottish Government and published by Baringa, provides analysis of the scale of the economic opportunities available to the Scottish Islands from further deployment of renewable energy.

With appropriate investment in grid infrastructure and generating assets, renewable energy deployment on the Islands could grow rapidly by the early 2020s.

Delivering this increased level of deployment could result in:

  • Economic benefits up to £725 million for the island economies, including up to £225 million in community benefits
  • Local economic stimulus at peak of up to £83 million a year or an additional 5% boost to local economic output on average across the Islands
  • Revenues to community owned equity totalling up to £390 million for local communities from island generation projects
  • Employment boost of up to 2,000 jobs created in the peak development phase across the Islands
  • Alleviation of grid constraints in the Orkney Islands alone that could increase income to existing wind developments by around £2.7 million annually

Commenting on the report from Stornoway where he was attending the Convention of the Highlands and Islands, Mr Ewing said:

“This report confirms the potential of the vast renewable resources of our islands. They are arguably the best places in Europe to deliver renewable energy. The wind speeds are the strongest and they have the best potential for wave and tidal energy in the future.

“The potential considerable economic and employment benefits from renewables means it is vital for the UK Government to deliver on their commitment to the islands. The Council leaders and I have therefore written today to the Secretary of State Amber Rudd MP. We are urging her Department to progress the necessary EU permissions immediately, and to bring forward a viable package of support in the coming weeks that supports the vital grid connections to the three island groups.

“With high levels of fuel poverty in the islands it is necessary to deliver the unleashed potential of island renewables which will provide huge quantities of electricity but also provide enormous benefits to the people on the islands which could be used to help combat the problems of fuel poverty and rural deprivation.”

Renewables could boost Scottish islands – WWF comment

Commenting on the report, WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “This study makes clear that in addition to helping cut climate emissions, renewables also have the ability to generate multiple economic benefits for Scotland’s islands. However, if we are to secure these benefits we need each of the political parties to prioritise renewables and commit to ensuring Scotland becomes the EU’s first fully renewable electricity nation by 2030. Home to some of Europe’s best wave, tidal and wind resources, with the right support our islands could have a great role to play in delivering that future.

“Independent research has shown that it is possible for Scotland to have a secure electricity system, based on almost entirely renewable electricity generation, by 2030. “