Renewables ‘could bring £725m to islands’

The economies of Scotland’s islands could benefit by up to £725 million over the next 25 years from renewable energy projects, according to an independent report.

The report, commissioned by the Scottish Government and published by Baringa, provides an analysis of the economic opportunities available to the Scottish Islands from further investment in renewable energy.

The report says Scotland’s islands have some of the best renewable energy resources in Europe — from wind, wave and tidal.

It states the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland have the potential to supply up to 5% of total electricity demand in the Great Britain market by 2030.

“With investment in grid infrastructure and generating assets, renewable energy deployment on the islands could grow rapidly by the early 2020s,” said the Scottish Government.

The government said delivering this increased level of renewable energy deployment could result in:

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

Speaking from Stornoway, where he was attending the Convention of the Highlands and Islands, Minister for Business, Enegry and Tourism Fergus 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.”