The need to accelerate the transition to renewable energy sources has been brought into sharp relief by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, energy secretary Michael Matheson will say on Tuesday.
He will tell the Scottish Renewables Offshore Wind Conference that renewable power could provide a “more consistent and stable form of energy supply” in the wake of rising prices and “unpredictable” supplies of oil and gas.
His speech comes less than two months after contracts worth almost £700m were awarded to 17 projects for new offshore wind farms along Scotland’s coasts.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said at the time that the developments in the ScotWind leasing round had the potential to make Scotland a “major exporter” of renewable energy.
However, Matheson will tell the conference that, as it stands, Scotland is “unfairly penalised” by transmission charges, which make it more expensive to produce energy in remote locations.
The net zero and energy secretary will say: “I am acutely aware that, right now, families and households across Scotland are facing rising energy costs alongside high inflation. It is why we need a more consistent and stable form of energy supply.
“The current highly unpredictable nature of gas and oil prices add to the imperative to accelerate the development of alternative sources of energy.”
He will add: “Scotland has among the richest renewable energy producing potential in the whole of Europe – but is unfairly penalised when it comes to the transmission charges applied, giving a direct disincentive to producers and investors.”
Crown Estate Scotland was charged with overseeing the ScotWind Leasing bidding process, which received 74 applications from energy firms.
The final awards, which include contracts with Scottish Power, Shell, SSE and BP, total £699.2m.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Monday was “possibly one of the most significant days in energy and industrial terms that Scotland has seen for a very, very long time”.
Most of the sites are on the east, north east or northern coast, with just one on the western side of Scotland.
Matheson will continue: “In Scotland, nearly 100% of our net electricity demand already comes from renewable sources and we are focused on reducing energy demand and accelerating the deployment of renewable energy.
“The recent outcome of the ScotWind leasing round was a tremendous vote of confidence in Scotland’s growing offshore renewables sector. The level of ambition shown by the market recognises the seriousness of Scotland’s commitment to achieving our net zero targets and sustainable economic growth.
“There is a bright future for the energy sector in Scotland, and for a revitalised North Sea, in supporting our transition to a net-zero energy system. The Scottish Government will do everything in its control to ensure that we deliver on that vision.”
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