The UK government has been accused by politicians in Scotland of betraying the Western Isles by announcing plans to change the subsidy scheme for wind energy. Two significant schemes in Lewis had already progressed to the stage of receiving planning consent, and both were on course to receive a total combined investment of £1 billion.
But only last month, both of the new wind farms found themselves negatively affected by the freezing of renewable energy subsidies. The government has said that it is still committed to green energy and has invested £13 billion in British green energy projects in the last year.
In the 2015 General Election, the Conservatives said that they would put an end to onshore wind subsidies as part of their manifesto. Last month they began a consultation process for onshore wind on islands, considering a separate criteria for island-generated wind power.
Without government subsidies, it is unlikely to ever be economically viable to lay sub-sea cabling for offshore projects in order to connect island-generated power to mainland customers. Previously, Scottish islands were unable to be connected as they weren't categorised as producing onshore wind. The issue led to politicians arguing that a special case needed to be considered in order to ensure that Scottish islands were able to achieve their commercial potential for renewable energy development.
If the islands are ultimately categorised as being onshore, they will be the first to experience negative effects, as subsidies for this category have already stopped.
EDP Energy has already confirmed that it is ready to go live with its plan to build a 36-wind-turbine development on Stornoway and create an accompanying community fund for Lewis, but this will only happen if the subsidy regime remains in place.