Renewable Energy

Question Time — Scottish Executive — General Questions – in the Scottish Parliament at 11:40 am on 7 June 2007.

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Photo of Claire Baker Claire Baker Labour 11:40, 7 June 2007

To ask the Scottish Executive what progress is being made on the development of new renewable energy schemes. (S3O-115)

Photo of Jim Mather Jim Mather Scottish National Party

Support is provided to renewable energy projects through the renewables obligation Scotland and though grant support. Grant offers have been made to a range of companies to help them develop wave, tidal, biomass and hydrogen projects throughout Scotland, and I will consider what further support is necessary.

In addition, we recognise the importance of grid access and suitable transmission charging and will raise those issues with the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets, National Grid and the Department of Trade and Industry. In all that work, I will listen carefully to the views of the energy sector and other stakeholders. Those views will inform our energy strategy for Scotland.

Photo of Claire Baker Claire Baker Labour

How will the minister encourage the use of renewable power sources—including on-site generation—in new public buildings, such as schools? How will he ensure that local Scottish renewables companies—such as Burntisland Fabrications Ltd in Fife, whose Methil facility produces wind turbines—will benefit?

Photo of Jim Mather Jim Mather Scottish National Party

We will build on the success of the Scottish community and household renewables initiative, which I am told has played a significant role in transforming the small-scale market. We will make it clear that we will push more local community microgeneration. That will help the majority of smaller Scottish businesses; encourage more investment; contribute to the sustainable economic growth that we seek; and increase not only competitiveness in Scotland but competitiveness in exporting those technologies. That will mean that more wealth is retained in Scotland, ensure a cleaner, safer environment and put more people in compelling, rewarding and sustainable work.

Photo of Roseanna Cunningham Roseanna Cunningham Scottish National Party

The minister will be aware of the Scottish biomass support scheme, which is now closed, with all the money having been committed. Many companies with excellent schemes were disappointed, not least one or two in my constituency. Is he aware that there is concern in parts of the industry that a number of the schemes to which money was already awarded will not go ahead? If that turns out to be the case, will he explain what will happen if there is an underspend on that SBSS funding? Will the funding go back into biomass schemes?

Photo of Jim Mather Jim Mather Scottish National Party

I am considerably less worried about an underspend, given the recent DTI proposals on renewables obligation certificate banding and the potential for those proposals to be implemented. The prospect of double ROCs for combined heat and power biomass projects will make an enormous difference to the bankability of such projects. Early modelling indicates that they will be very much more viable, very much more bankable and very much more likely to attract further investment.