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EDF warns Western Isles could miss out on UK subsidies

Offshore Wind
Offshore Wind

The Western Isles will lose hundreds of millions of pounds if the UK government rejects granting subsidies to island wind farms, warns EDF Energy Renewables, as it reveals figures from a new report.

Some 600 jobs amid an £709 million economic boost for the Outer Hebrides can be achieved by tapping into the islands’ massive renewable energy source, stresses the study commissioned by the giant energy developer.

None of the three large wind farms planned for Lewis nor clusters of community owned turbines will go ahead without financial support to compensate for the high cost – up to seven times higher than from the Highlands – of exporting island generated electricity to the energy hungry southern markets.

That includes EDF’s own joint venture with AMEC Foster Wheeler for a proposed turbine scheme near Stornoway.

Neither will a huge subsea cable be built to carry the energy to the mainland, dashing plans for more community wind schemes to hook into the interconnector.

Lack of a grid connection also threatens development of the massive wave energy resource to the west of the Hebrides.

Matthieu Hue, chief executive of EDF Energy Renewables, highlighted installing wind turbines off the coast returns a much poorer deal for the Hebrides.

Mr Hue said: “Island wind projects would provide substantial benefits for remote communities in Scotland and offer good value for consumers – especially due to the abundant wind conditions of the Western Isles.

“The benefits come in direct payments from the wind farm and opportunities for communities to invest in the projects.”

He added: “The effect of the large scale of the investment would provide tremendous boost to the local economy and industry.

“Polling shows that seven in ten of the local population supports the development of the wind farms on the islands.”

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