Connecting Scotland’s islands to the GB electricity grid could spark a £2.5 billion British investment boom, and after years of waiting it could finally happen – no matter what party ends up in power in June. Scotland’s island groups – the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland – are some of the windiest places not just in Europe, but in the world. Together they are host to nearly a gigawatt of fully consented but as yet unbuilt wind farms, owned by the local community and generators including SSE and EDF. With capacity factors up to 50 per cent, these farms could be up and running by the early 2020s, delivering green energy cheaper, faster and with a lot more certainty than the proposed Cardiff Bay lagoon or the mega-expensive Hinkley Point C – forecast to be online by 2025 (if of course it can be built on budget or on time). These wind schemes could significantly soften the UK’s looming capacity crunch, and deliver a shovel-ready £2.5 billion order book in some of the most remote and economically fragile areas of the UK. Together they could support up to 2,000 UK jobs in the period 2018-2022 and bring up to £725 million (gross value added) in economic benefit for the island economies.
Neil Davidson 20th April 2017 read more »