Calls for ministers to overhaul the grid transmission charging system have been reignited in the wake of UK hosting COP26.
Trade body Scottish Renewables has urged the UK Government and Ofgem to “work together in the spirit” of the climate conference to achieve a solution to the Transmission Network Use of System (TNUoS) regime.
It follows repeated calls throughout 2021 for the system to be changed, with the Scottish Affairs Committee recently underlining the need for them to be reviewed as a “matter of urgency”.
Under the current system, developments located in remote areas have to pay a charge in order to feed energy into the grid.
Drawn up 30 years ago, the system was designed to incentivise companies to build power plants near to urban areas.
However, many of the UK’s best renewables resources are found hundreds of miles from large cities and towns.
It means wind and tidal projects in Scotland have to fork out “tens of millions of pounds” a year.
That additional cost is “restricting the development of major projects” in Scotland, according to Claire Mack, chief executive of Scottish Renewables.
And Scottish Renewables is now restressing the need for urgent review and reform to ensure Scotland’s renewable energy industry can play its part in getting to net zero.
It said that would ensure a “lasting-legacy” to the aims of the COP26 climate change talks.
Ms Mack said: “COP26 has exposed the urgency of the challenge facing our environment and the discussions which have taken place in Glasgow will be critical in shaping the future of our planet and our quality of life.
“The work around COP26 and the negotiations is hugely positive with new commitments to reduce methane emissions, phasing down coal power and deforestation, already made.
“Closer to home what we need now is for the UK Government and Ofgem to work together in the spirit of COP26 to ensure that Scotland’s world leading renewable energy industry can play its full role in advancing the UK towards achieving its own climate change ambitions.
“Scotland’s renewable energy industry has a huge contribution to make because of the strength of resource that exists here but transmission charging rules which govern how the electricity network is paid for are restricting the development of major projects. These rules were designed 30 years ago and are no longer doing what they are supposed to do. They are bad for the action which COP26 needs to take forward to tackle climate change.
“The TNUoS charges which are levied on Scottish projects mean they are now almost 20% more expensive than equivalent projects in the south of England. If the UK is to have any hope of meeting net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and delivering on its ambitions for COP26 we must take advantage of every tool we have.
“TNUoS remains enormously destructive to Scotland’s offshore wind industry which has access to 25% of Europe’s offshore wind resource, and of course our climate ambitions. The UK Government and Ofgem can act in the spirit of COP26 and provide a lasting legacy for Scotland’s renewable energy industry through delivering reform of TNUoS to make it fit for the net-zero future.”
An Ofgem spokesperson said: “As the independent energy regulator, Ofgem is committed to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions at the lowest cost to consumers while making sure generators pay proportionate costs for using the network.
“In October we asked our stakeholders for their views on reforming transmission charges and that call for evidence closed on Friday 12 November. Scottish Renewables was one of a number of organisations that submitted evidence last week. We are now reviewing all the submissions and will update our stakeholders in due course.”