Aberdeen South’s SNP MP Stephen Flynn has slammed the UK Government over what he is calling the “great Scottish renewables robbery”.
During a fiery exchange in Parliament yesterday, he accused energy minister Greg Hands of failing to reform the charging network because the current system benefits English green energy projects.
New figures from the National Grid show that by 2026/27 Scottish generators will have to pay around £465 million a year in transmission charges.
In contrast renewables developments in England and Wales will receive a subsidy of about £30m a year.
Mr Flynn told the Commons that he recently spoke to a Scottish green energy operator that expects to pay around a billion pounds of grid charging over the lifespan of its project.
He says the figures underline “just how reliant on Scottish fees the UK Government is”.
A long running bugbear for Scotland’s renewables industry, transmission network use of system (TNUoS) charges were designed around 30 years ago as a means of incentivising operators to build projects near to major urban hubs.
It means developments in far flung locations, like many in Scotland, have to pay a fee to put energy into the grid.
Meanwhile similar projects in England do not face the same fees and some even receive subsidies because of their location.
Mr Flynn said: “These damning figures from the National Grid prove that Scotland is being unfairly penalised by the Westminster government. It’s clear the Tories have absolutely no interest in making the system fair for Scotland, because they want to continue forcing Scottish generators to subsidise the rest of the UK – plain and simple.
“The Tories are guilty of the Great Scottish Renewables Robbery. We know Scotland pays the highest transmission charges in Europe and these grossly unfair rates are holding back Scotland’s renewable energy potential by acting as a huge barrier to expansion.
“Scotland has the potential to lead Europe in renewable energies, but we are being hampered by a Tory Government with no interest in our net zero future – and who seem happy for Scotland to be at a competitive disadvantage not just with the rest of Europe but within the UK too. It makes a mockery of Tory claims that this is a union of equals.
“We already know that Scotland has huge potential to lead Europe on renewable energy, now we just need the full powers of independence to ensure that potential isn’t squandered by Westminster.”
Calls to act
Powers included in the Energy Act 2004 give the Secretary of State the ability to “adjust transmission charges” if they’re likely to hinder projects in certain areas.
But despite calls for Kwasi Kwarteng, Westminster’s Business Secretary, to use them he is yet to do so.
Energy regulator Ofgem is currently considering potential reform to the transmission charging system, which Mr Hands pointed to in his response to Mr Flynn in the Commons.
SNP energy policy is a shambles.
🥶 opposing nuclear – Hunterston shows Scotland’s amazing civil nuclear record for low cost, low carbon electricity.
🥶wanting to close down North Sea oil & gas.
🥶not backing UK Government action for renewables like offshore wind & tidal. pic.twitter.com/8MNNqCScW1
— Greg Hands (@GregHands) January 11, 2022
A government spokeswoman said: “Transmission charging is a matter for the independent energy regulator Ofgem, and it is currently considering potential reforms in this area. These charges are designed to reflect the costs of using the grid, which ensures its efficient use and limits overall costs to consumers.
“The Government is firmly committed to the roll out of renewable generation projects. Our Contracts for Difference scheme has been highly successful in supporting renewable generation in Scotland and elsewhere in Great Britain, and the latest round opened last month.”