There is pressure on the UK Government to share plans for overhauling the electric grid to remove “unnecessary barriers” to renewable developments in Scotland.
Aberdeen South SNP MP Stephen Flynn has written to Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Westminster’s energy minister, to highlight the uneven playing field caused by an “out of date” system.
Mr Flynn also raised the issue in the House of Commons last week.
Due to the remote locations of many Scottish wind farms, coupled with infrastructure constraints, developers north of the border face an additional cost to feed electricity into the grid.
A recent report published by SSEN Transmission found that under the transmission network use of system (TNUoS) charges, the Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm in the Moray Firth has to pay £4.50 per megawatt hour (MWh).
Meanwhile, under the same system, the Greater Gabbard and London Array developments off the south-east coast of England receive £1.09 and £0.62 respectively per MWh.
Similar disparities exist for onshore wind, as well as for combined cycle gas turbine plants, with Peterhead paying significantly higher costs than competitors down south.
In his letter to the energy minister, Mr Flynn said: “As you will now be aware, a renewables project in Scotland must pay in excess of £4 per unit to access the National Grid whereas similar projects in the South East of England are in fact paid £1 per unit to access the very same grid.
“It’s clear for all to see that the system of grid charging has long since been out of date and reflect neither the need for new and complementary technologies as part of the drive towards net-zero, nor the additional wider economic benefits which development can bring.
“In response to my question on this issue, you did not even seek to address this key point so I hope you can expand further in response to this letter. What action have you taken, and what further action do you have planned, in order to address this matter?
“Scotland has the ability to lead Europe in the renewables field and no unnecessary barriers should be placed in the way of that.”
The levied charging regime was set up by energy regulator Ofgem to incentivise developers to build power stations as close to “load centres” as possible.
However, it means energy developments in far-flung regions are hit with an added premium to access the grid.
The issue has rumbled on for a while with renewables developers and industry bodies expressing fears the system could discourage the building of green energy projects where the best wind resources exist, threatening governments net zero targets.
A spokesman for Ofgem said: “The current locational transmission charges mean that large generators that are further from demand pay more to reflect the higher costs of transporting the energy they generate a longer distance. At the same time, energy consumers in Scotland generally pay less, because they are closer to the source of generation.
“Ofgem is committed to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions at the lowest cost to consumers while making sure that generators operate on a level playing field, paying proportionate costs for using the network.
“Our ongoing and upcoming energy reforms will provide an incentive for the most efficient use of the network and will reward those that add more value to the system, for example by being more flexible. We are working with industry and other stakeholders, and later this year will be developing a Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan with BEIS.”
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said that transmission charging is a matter for Ofgem, as the independent regulator.