U.K. Wind Farm Ban May Cost Scotland $3.9 Billion, MPs Say

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  • Scotland to miss 100 percent renewables goal without subsidies
  • U.K. didn’t consider Scottish views when ending wind support

The U.K. should review its decision to ban onshore wind subsidies, a move that could cost Scotland as much as 3 billion pounds ($3.9 billion) and torpedo its clean energy targets, lawmakers said.

Scottish views weren’t considered when former Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative government said it would end new subsidies for the technology, according to a report issued Monday by the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee. Scotland currently hosts about 60 percent of the U.K.’s onshore wind capacity.

Onshore wind is the U.K.’s cheapest way to produce low-carbon electricity, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Scotland’s fast wind speeds and long coastlines have helped build up an industry that supports about 21,000 jobs and more than 1 billion pounds ($1.3 billion) of annual investment, according to Scottish Renewables trade group.

“This is an important sector of Scotland’s economy, and also makes a vital contribution to meeting our commitments to tackle climate change,” Committee chairman Pete Wishart said in a statement. “The sector’s future success relies on a supportive policy framework.”

‘Bruising Impact’

The U.K. government should improve consultations with Scotland over future changes to renewable energy support, according to the committee. Scotland wants to generate 100 percent of its energy from renewables by 2020 -- a goal that probably will be missed without future support to wind energy, according to the report.

“We have urged the government to clarify the future support which will be available to the renewable sector, and set out how they will work with the Scottish government to develop a clear, long-term plan that will allow renewable energy to remain a central part of the energy mix,” Wishart said.

A spokesman for the U.K.’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said it remains committed to supporting the renewables industry in Scotland through a series of auctions for low-carbon technologies.

“In the last funding round over 40 percent of successful U.K. projects were based in Scotland and further details of the new round will be made soon,” he said in an e-mailed statement.