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By a Newsnet reporter
The Scottish government has repeated its calls for a fairer grid charging system after an industry body warned that high connection charges levelled in Scotland could harm the Scottish offshore renewables industry.
Figures from Scottish Renewables show that firms in the north of Scotland face charges in excess of £56m to connect to the national grid whereas those in England actually received an £11m subsidy.
The new report by Scottish Renewables calls for reform of the current system which forces energy producers in Scotland and on Scotland’s islands, where much of our future energy potential is located, to pay the highest charges for connection to the national grid.
Scottish Renewables chief executive Niall Stuart said: "Scotland has long been recognised internationally as the leader in pioneering wave and tidal research and development and is home to 25% of Europe's tidal resource and 10% of its wave resource.
"However, these charges could actually result in development going elsewhere, despite Scotland's fantastic wave and tidal resource."
The SNP said Ofgem’s review of the charges paid by energy producers for access to the National Grid must now back Scotland’s renewable energy potential.
The industry regulator announced its review in September last year after energy producers in Scotland joined the Scottish government in demanding an end to the “discriminatory” system.
The current charging methodology levies higher charges on generators furthest from the main centres of demand for connection and use of the grid. This favours generation in the southern part of the UK and presents an inbuilt bias in the UK transmission system against Scottish based generation.
The charging regime means that, for example, an energy provider in Peterhead, Aberdeenshire would have to pay £20 per kw for a grid connection while a London-based energy provider would receive £3 per kw.
SNP MSP Chic Brodie, a member of the Parliament’s Energy Committee, gave his support to Scottish Renewables’ calls and said:
“It is ridiculous that places which have the potential to power our future currently face the most expensive charges for connecting to the electricity grid and sending the energy they produce to the consumers that need it.
“Meanwhile those in the south of England are being subsidised at the expense of Scotland’s renewable potential. Surely those places with most potential should receive the most encouragement."
Mr Brodie added:
“The SNP has long argued for a change in these discriminatory charges and the current OfGem review must take that opportunity.
“This report from Scottish Renewables exposes the problems Scottish producers face and the damage that could be done to the industry if there is no change.
“OfGem and the UK must act now and act quickly to end the discrimination against energy production across Scotland.”