Calls to end uncertainty

scotsman readers gallery ts USED 05/09/2011'readers pic'These are some of the wind turbines at the 60 turbine 180MW output Robin Rigg offshore wind farm in the Solway Firth, viewed from the Galloway coast.' 'Walter Baxter'Galashiels'wb.slioch@virgin.net

scotsman readers gallery ts USED 05/09/2011'readers pic'These are some of the wind turbines at the 60 turbine 180MW output Robin Rigg offshore wind farm in the Solway Firth, viewed from the Galloway coast.' 'Walter Baxter'Galashiels'wb.slioch@virgin.net

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Angus MP Mike Weir has called for the UK Government to end uncertainty he says has been created over the future of offshore wind.

Mr Weir, the SNP’s Westminster energy spokesman, said the situation has been created by the Government’s implementation of the Contract for Difference (CfD) system of support for low carbon energy.

The MP led a debate recently in the House of Commons on the matter and pointed out that offshore wind has the potential not only to create clean, sustainable energy but also many new jobs throughout the country, including in Angus.

He also said, however, that by failing to give certainty on price and contracts beyond 2020 the UK Government is imperilling investment as companies are spending vast sums of money on developments without any certainty that there would be contracts available at the end of the day.

Commenting on the debate, Mr Weir said: “There are proposals for three wind farms off the coast of Angus alone, and two of them are competing for CfDs in the current allocation round.

“However, the amount of money available for offshore wind will only allow support for up to 800mw of electricity generation, whilst the two projects alone would account for more than double that. Clearly both cannot be successful in this round.

“Unless the UK government give some guarantee of contracts being available in the future developers will be very unlikely to be prepared to pump the huge amounts of money needed to bring projects to the stage of seeking CfDs.

“It has been estimated that the number of jobs in the offshore renewable industry could rise from the current 13,000 to over 44,000 by 2023. Clearly many of the skills in the North Sea Oil and Gas industry would be transferable to these new projects and given the current difficulties in that industry this could be a major boost for Angus and North East Scotland.”

Mr Weir added that in determining the money available for energy developments need had to be taken to ensure the interests of bill payers as well as developers.

He said: “This is not necessarily a call for more money to be invested but the UK government making clear that it is committed to developing offshore wind into the future.”