Scotland’s wind energy sector has hit out at last week’s UK government tariff review for small scale energy generators saying that that a newly imposed cap on the number of wind turbines that will qualify for Feed-in Tariff (FiT) subsidies could restrict the building of new wind turbines to as few as one a month across the UK.
Trade body Scottish Renewables says that, although the new reduced rates for small wind turbines are not too bad, a new quarterly deployment cap hidden away in the 115-page document could lead to the “ridiculous” situation that, dependent on the size of the turbine, just one turbine a month could be built.
Senior Policy Manager at Scottish Renewables Joss Blamire told the Sunday Herald: “While the UK government listened to the industry in relation to FiT rate cuts for solar, the devil is very much in the detail for onshore wind.
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“Caps imposed on turbines between 50kW and 100kW mean only one machine a month will be supported across the whole UK.
“With at least a dozen companies producing and installing turbines at this scale, these caps clearly do not provide room for the continued development of their projects, many of which would have been owned by local communities and rural businesses.”
Steve Macken, the owner of Lomond Energy near Dumbarton said, that while the new tariffs were “challenging but workable” a deployment cap of 6.8 megawatts of installed capacity in the first quarter of next year (set to fall to 5.7MW by 2019) for 100kW to 1.5MW turbines was the equivalent of just four 1.5MW turbines and a handful of smaller turbines across the UK.
“This shows a serious lack of ambition on behalf of the UK government,” he said. “The effect of this will be pretty savage and will lead to a severe shrinking of the sector.
“We are a small rural based company with three employees and have had to make one employee redundant as a result of putting our development pipeline on hold.”
Mark Jones, the chief executive of Netherlands-based EWT, a company that makes small to medium sized turbines, said that his company would likely have to move its focus away from the UK as a result of the new regime.
Over the last year the company has built and supplied over 100 wind turbines for the UK market, many of them installed in Scotland. But this level of work would likely collapse because of the cuts, he said.
Under the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s new plans, FiTs for onshore wind turbines will fall by as much as 65 per cent from February.
Annual new spending for the FiTs across all technologies will be capped at £100m up to April 2019.