Too much haste, poor regulation and a lack of focus on skills could leave Scotland burdened with an unsustainable offshore wind industry, experts told the Scottish government’s Low Carbon Investment conference last week.
Scottish & Southern Energy chief executive officer Ian Marchant said it would be wise to “arrest the pace” of developing offshore wind to allow more time to attract inward investment and drive down construction costs of building offshore farms.
“The danger on offshore is that we try to do too much, too quickly,” he warned.
He said it would be better to look at a 10 to 15 year programme rather than a seven to eight year programme aimed at meeting deadlines in 2020.
Marchant also questioned the need for the target to have 20% of Europe’s energy coming from renewables by 2020.
“I have this nagging doubt that we have latched onto the wrong year just because it made poetry,” he said.
Lloyds Banking Group managing director Lady Susan Rice argued that unforgiving targets were necessary to foster “ambition” and “leadership”.
“If you don’t have a vision for 2050, then I don’t think you are going to get there”
Gamesa chairman Jorge Calvet
“If the targets had been smaller, I wonder whether there would be nearly as much collective will evident to build a renewable industry in Scotland,” she said.
Scotland has its own target to have 80% of Scottish electricity consumption supplied by renewables by 2020. This was raised two weeks ago from the previous target of 50% by 2020.
Management and IT consulting and technology firm PA Consulting Group managing consultant James Hamilton warned that too much focus on the 2020 “milestone” without long term thinking could “create a boom and bust, where the industry falls off a cliff after 2020”.
Mainstream Renewable Power chief executive Eddie O’Connor agreed. “If you don’t have a vision for 2050, then I don’t think you are going to get there,” he said.
Turbine manufacturer Gamesa chairman Jorge Calvet warned the conference that a poor regulatory framew
ork had left Spain with an unsustainable wind energy industry.
It has already built 20GW of wind energy capacity, but work has now dried up, said Calvet.
“I hope you can take the Spanish example as something that cannot − or should not − be done,” he said.