Following the enactment of the 2015 Conservative Manifesto, one of the casualties is the subsidy boon for wind-farm and other ‘renewables’: none more so than in Scotland where the SNP’s vaunted 100% target by 2020 has yet to produce a worthwhile electricity supply. Like the bounty on rat tails in Ankh-Morpork resulting in a cottage industry of rat farms, public money – paid for from domestic energy bills – has been lavished on companies which, from my own observations, have not been based in the UK let alone Scotland with construction crews being supplied from outwith the local areas.
Even know windfarms now are a mature technology and we are told Scotland has endless resources, up to 50% subsidies appear to be essential. The basic rule of a thriving industry is that it can operate with minimal subsidies.
What previously may have parts of scenic areas and one of the last easily accessible wilderness areas in Western Europe have seen foundations pile driven into the ground or seafloor. This would include the Flow Country in the Far North where, if legal challenges by energy companies being egged on by Fergus Ewing* (having realized that, as part of the same entity which is HM Government, the Holyrood administration cannot) succeed, would see the South Strathy project go ahead. Carbon-sink peatbog would be ripped-up for this project which is estimated to take 25 years to offset its carbon footprint, and has a 20 year projected lifespan.
(*A token ‘right-winger’ in the SNP related, as so often is the case, to several other senior SNP members. The son of the tewwibly wadical Winnie Ewing who sent him to Loreto, and who as far as I can tell has not had a job beyond politics: not even folding napkins.)
It should be noted that had YES won in 2014, these subsidies would have dried-up anyway. Under EU agreement, one Government cannot subsidize another; and this is how it would have been where the subsidies were disproportionately from the Westminster administration. No discrimination is now occurring: applicants in England & Wales are facing the same cut-backs.
One intriguing comment from Ewing can be found in a press release from February 2015 (or, so the date says, it would not be the first time I have seen press releases ‘altered’):
According to owner Scottish Power, the primary cause of the current uncertainty surrounding Longannet is the disproportionately high fixed cost it incurs to export power to Britain’s national electricity grid.
First, all powers over electricity generation, transmission and regulation are reserved to Westminster; and second, there is no requirement for the security of electricity supply in Scotland to be assessed and reported publicly.
Longannet is an antiquated coal-fired power station which the SNP have over-looked in their hunting of the snark of 100% renewables, not seeing its demise coming. Claims that Scotland energy market has been abandoned by Westminster can be scotched by the fact that the much further north Peterhead won the National Grid contract which would have saved Longannet.
What sits oddly is the second quoted paragraph. Scottish baseload is assessed UK-wide because Scotland is part of the National Grid. It is always possible that this word salad is down to Ewing’s knowing as much about energy security as he knows about steampunk, but it also could be an attempt to have the Scottish operations declared a separate operation/entity: and therefore entitled to new subsidies.
Because of the lack of investigative journalism and curious MSPs in Scotland, folk knowledge of beanos and sweeteners enjoyed by public proponents of windfarms has not been expanded upon. One reason for the large number of medium-sized installations is that, under the Energy Act 1994, those greater than 50 mW are determined by central Government; and this is a Devolved power.
As a result, local authorities can reject as many applications as they like, but Holyrood with its windfarm fetish can and does over-rule. See this comment from Far North technical publisher, Whittles Publications and client Windfarm Visualization which resulted in a vituperative – and almost entirely wrong – response from constituency MSP, Rob Gibson.
The Scottish Conservatives have long since vowed to offer local authorities the expectation of control over windfarm decisions free from Holyrood meddling. As such, most would expect their MSPs to lead by example. Alas, Highlands & Islands lisp MSP, Jamie McGrigor has been an eager applicant hoping to net some £8 millions for projects on his estate. After the local authority rejected his application, he sought to bypass this by appealing to Holyrood.
With the impending loss of subsidies for new applications and he sees this hove from view, he has spoken to the P&J:
A Highland MSP who stands to make around £8million from a windfarm on his estate in Argyll said he fully understood why his party colleagues wanted to stop subsidising new developments.
Conservative Jamie McGrigor said he accepted there were enough onshore projects in the pipeline to meet renewable energy targets but claimed it would be a “shame” for local communities if the scheme at his 3,500 acre farm near Dalmally did not go ahead.