Carmichael: clarity needed for islands’ renewable industry

Alistair Carmichael MP.

MP for Orkney and Shetland, Alistair Carmichael, has called on the UK government to make a decision on an islands’ strike price for renewable energy generation in the islands.

Mr Carmichael raised the issue during a debate in Westminster Hall, on Tuesday.

He was responded to by Richard Harrington MP, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, who said he expected to be able to make a decision “very soon”, about whether there will be provision for the islands in the next round of the Contract for Difference (CfD) auctions. He was unable to give a definite timetable.

Mr Carmichael also asked Mr Harrington to be more specific about the Conservatives’ manifesto commitment to “support the development of wind projects” in the islands, where they would “directly benefit local communities”.

Commenting, Mr Carmichael said: “We already know that the Western and Northern Isles have the potential to provide 5 per week of the UK’s total electricity demand by 2030.

“Renewable energy generation represents a huge opportunity for businesses and communities in my constituency, but also for the Government, to harness the natural resources of the islands.

“I welcome the Conservatives’ manifesto pledge to support renewables in the islands, but the industry needs the Government to put meat on the bone on this matter.

“The question for the Government is this: if their aspiration is that any new renewable projects should be eligible for the next round of CfD auctions, then they must first ensure that the next auction does not go ahead until specific provisions have been made for the islands.

Mr Carmichael also said that a degree of urgency from the Government is necessary on this issue, as a large amount of potential investment is reliant on a decision on an islands’ strike price.

He added: “In Orkney and Shetland, the industry has pulled itself up inch by inch, but in recent years it has been pushed backwards by a lack of dedicated government support for wave and tidal projects.

“The Secretary of State should engage with the renewables industry, both on and off-shore, in order to fully understand exactly what is needed to help the sector grow.”

July 6, 2017 at 1:30 pm