Plans for a major offshore wind farm have suffered a setback after failing to land a UK Government funding deal.
Moray Offshore Renewables Limited (MORL) missed out on a deal on a subsidy which would have guaranteed the price at which it sold electricity for a 15-year period.
Formal consent for the project in the Moray Firth, off the coast of Caithness, was granted by the Scottish Government in March last year.
MORL plans to build up to 62 turbines of 6MW to 8MW capacity on each of three sites.
A 448-megawatt project in the Firth of Forth, Neart na Gaoithe, was instead successful in today’s contracts announcement from the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) – the only Scottish offshore wind farm on the list.
Support was also announced for 10 onshore wind farms in Scotland and a scheme off East Anglia run by ScottishPower.
Industry body Scottish Renewables described the overall announcement as a welcome boost for the industry.
But environmental campaigners Friends of the Earth Scotland described the results as “very disappointing”, saying that granting a contract to only one Scottish offshore wind farm “shows how little interest the current UK Government has in cleaning up our energy supply”.
In total, the Westminster Government announced contracts totalling more than £315 million to 27 renewable electricity projects in the UK.
Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said: “This world-leading auction has delivered contracts for renewables projects right across the UK.
“These projects could power 1.4 million homes, create thousands of green jobs and give a massive boost to home-grown energy while reducing our reliance on volatile foreign markets.”
Friends of the Earth Scotland (FoES) said offshore wind needs more UK support.
It was widely expected that the offshore wind farm in the Moray Firth would be supported, but this did not prove to be the case, it said.
FoES director Dr Richard Dixon said: “These results are very disappointing.
“Granting a contract to only one Scottish offshore wind farm, and only one other in the rest of the UK, shows how little interest the current UK Government has in cleaning up our energy supply.
“Climate change and energy security concerns mean that Scotland and the UK need to make a rapid transition away from fossil fuels to clean, green energy.
“Scotland has huge potential for power from offshore wind farms and this technology is key in reducing carbon emissions.
“Meanwhile, the UK Government is happy to bend over backwards and spend tens of billions to support risky nuclear schemes like Hinkley Point C.
“Today’s announcement is another nail in the coffin of the coalition government’s ridiculous claim to being the greenest government ever.”
Scottish Renewables said the 11 renewables projects which did receive a contract would produce enough electricity to power the equivalent of more than 600,000 homes.
The Neart na Gaoithe wind farm is expected to create hundreds of direct and indirect jobs during its construction and throughout its operational life, the body said.
Chief executive Niall Stuart said: “We are pleased to see one Scottish project offered a contract in this process.
“With Neart na Gaoithe and the Beatrice development in the Moray Firth, we now have just over 1GW of offshore wind in Scottish waters with funding secured and moving towards a final investment decision.
“This represents a significant volume of projects with the potential to really kick-start offshore wind in Scotland.
“The success of the East Anglia 1 scheme is also good news for Glasgow-based ScottishPower Renewables.”
But he added that Scotland’s offshore wind ambitions “go far beyond” this, with almost 3GW of projects with planning permission still looking to secure contracts in the future.
“For them, the focus is now on the next auction, which is likely to start within the next 12 months,” he said.
Lindsay Leask, Senior Policy Manager, Offshore Wind & Marine at Scottish Renewables, said: “As the UK’s offshore energy city, Aberdeen has the potential to reap significant benefits from offshore wind farm developments off the Scottish coast, wherever they are located.
“Projects like Neart na Gaoithe, which today received a Contract for Difference from the UK government, can use the skills and supply chain of the North East in order to not only build out their schemes but also to maintain them over two decades of operational life.
“The Beatrice offshore wind farm, in the Moray Firth, received funding certainty from the UK Government last year, so did not need to bid into this auction process. Projections from that scheme show the benefits to Moray, Highland, Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire could be up to £356 million.
“With the MORL scheme, also in the Moray Firth, still in the running to receive a contract in future funding rounds, there are still huge potential gains for the North East from Scotland’s offshore wind industry.”