Scottish islands summit starts

A high-level summit between the UK government and the trio of councils governing Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles was convened by Scottish ministers today in Stornoway, in a bid to help Scotland's islands to deliver wind and tidal energy.

The independent Baringa report, commissioned jointly by the two governments, claimed that the islands' renewables could deliver up to 5% of UK electricity demand by 2030, create tens of thousands of jobs, and contribute more than £30m ($50m) a year in community benefits.

But “key uncertainties remain over both the level of support for renewable generation and the cost of using the transmission network," said Scotland’s energy minister Fergus Ewing.

"These uncertainties have effectively created an impasse between the key players, with nobody so far able to take the final steps to unlock necessary investment in grid infrastructure,” he claimed.

Last year, Ewing described as a “missed opportunity” the update to the UK’s Contract for Difference (CfD) scheme, which confirmed a  proposal to offer onshore wind farms on Scotland’s islands £115 ($188) per MWh from 2017/18.

Among the wind farms under development are the SSE-led Viking project on Shetland and International Power’s Beinn Mhor project on the Isle of Lewis.