It is becoming increasingly clear there’s a need for serious debate surrounding renewables policy.
The discussions surrounding the topic are too narrowly focused on the political and business arguments for offshore windfarms and appears to ignore the opportunities that remain to develop and deliver significantly more capacity onshore.
While the short-term deliverability of large-scale offshore wind is being questioned in many quarters, many of the historic barriers to increased onshore developments can and are being dealt with.
Monitoring and studies over 10 years have countered many of the campaign issues, including negative impact on bird populations, and VisitScotland figures published this week suggest the majority of visitors to Scotland do not see windfarms as a problem.
Offshore windfarms are still a relatively new development in UK waters and apart from the Robin Rigg site in the Solway Firth and a two-turbine demonstrator site in the Moray Firth, there are no operational sites in Scotland.
Offshore is attractive to developers because of the larger generators that can be deployed in “cleaner” airflows, plus a higher support price via the Renewable Obligation legislation.
It is recognised within the industry that costs have to come down by over one-third if these developments are going to attract funders. But where are these funds, about £60billion, going to come from in this economic climate?
Darren Hirst is an associate in the renewable-energy team at property consultant Bidwells