MAGNUS Gardham's report warning of the approaching cliff edge for renewables generation in Scotland (“Urgent plea to invest in renewables or miss 2020 energy target”, The Herald, November 11) is indeed prescient.

The reaction of the Scottish Energy Minister, Fergus Ewing, however, while predictably blaming the UK Government for the onshore wind sector's current woes, conveniently ignores his own and the Scottish Government's part in the lemming-like rush to the edge.

It is undoubtedly true that the UK Government's premature closure of the Renewables Obligation (RO) in June presented the Scottish Government with a dilemma: persuade the Conservatives to change or exercise its own powers to intervene and equally predictably they chose the latter over the former.

Always eager to throw bricks over the Border rather than exercise pre-existing powers the Energy Minister chose to abandon onshore wind development to its fate while acting to save solar farms facing a similar collapse in investor confidence.

No explanation has ever been forthcoming from ministers despite attempts by Labour MSP Ken McIntosh to elicit one and now literally hundreds of millions of pounds of investment and at least one gigawatt of capacity in Scotland is threatened by their inaction.

While Northern Ireland sought to halt the march to the cliff face the Scottish Government simply walked away.

Reported “anger” now at Scotland's renewable targets being jeopardised is no substitute for taking the necessary action to introduce a Scottish RO in October that would have thrown a lifeline to a beleaguered industry caught between a UK Government intent on withdrawing sectoral support and a Scottish Government naively and meekly collaborating with that outcome.

Paradoxically it has been left to the noble Lords Foulkes of Cumnock and Wallace of Tankerness to take the fight for Scottish Renewables to the UK Government by removing Clause 66 of the Energy Bill and returning the issue to the Commons.

Hopefully SNP MPs will show more resilience than their Government and work with Labour and Liberal Democrat opposition parties to save those projects most immediately threatened by the premature closure of the RO when the Amended Energy Bill returns to the Commons.

Equally hopefully perhaps Mr Ewing's colleague Mr Swinney can also address the absence of any clear direction on Contracts for Difference (CfDs) by giving Scottish developers a clear route to market in discussions with the Treasury on the Chancellor's Autumn Statement in two week.

Allan Wilson

44 Stoneyholm Road, Kilbirnie.

AS of September there were 16.15 gigawatts of renewable electricity generation capacity operational, under construction or with planning consent in Scotland. This would be enough to produce more than 46 terawatt hours per year, about 124 per cent of the country's current annual consumption of 37.5 terawatt hours. Most of the consented but unbuilt capacity is offshore and so unaffected by the Secretary of State’s sensible closure of subsidies for the mature technologies of onshore wind and solar, and a significant amount has already received support under the new Contracts for Difference scheme.

If the entirely arbitrary 100 per cent target is missed then it will not be from lack of consented wind farms, but from the inability of the wind industry to deliver without subsidies from consumers. The probability of meeting this target, whether or not there is any real value in so doing, could be increased if the industry shifted its focus from securing further unnecessary consents to building already consented capacity, especially in the challenging Scottish offshore environment.

UK Energy Secretary Amber Rudd's prediction that UK targets will be missed is almost certainly correct. Any rational analysis would have shown that they could never have been met. Achieving them was dependent on significantly “decarbonising” domestic heating and transport. Technically competent advisors would have pointed out to the then Government that neither of these were practical in any reasonable time frame.

Professor Jack Ponton,

Scientific Alliance Scotland,

7-9 North St David Street, Edinburgh.