As renewables trade body sees slump in membership, Holyrood government and Scottish Greens blame Westminster
THE Scottish Government and the Scottish Greens have criticised the UK Government’s energy policy after it emerged that Scottish Renewables, the renewable trade association, has seen a 15 per cent decline in membership since the UK Government announced its cut in subsidies for new onshore windfarms, while staff numbers have also been cut.
The wind power-dominated trade association, based in Glasgow, has reported membership numbers of companies on its roster have dropped to 277 in 2015-16 from 328 the year before.
This is down from a previous trend of increased membership over the past two years when in it had 328 members in 2013-14, and 315 in 2012-13.
Scottish Renewables cited the UK Government’s decision to end the Renewables Obligation scheme and its removal of subsidies for new onshore wind projects as reasons for the decline.
"Scotland can meet 100 per cent of its energy needs by using renewables, however, this will require the UK Government to up its game significantly." Scottish Greens
A Scottish Government spokesperson told CommonSpace: "Scotland is at the forefront of the renewables industry, but there is even more we can do to build on the considerable progress made in developing our hydro, marine and offshore and onshore wind resources.
"Recent decisions taken at UK level have been damaging to key areas of the industry.
"It is essential UK ministers set out their plans for the next Contracts for Difference allocation round without further delay."
A spokesperson for the Scottish Greens added that the UK Government should “up its game” to reverse the decline in membership.
"Unfortunately, this decline in membership numbers is hardly surprising.
"Scotland can meet 100 per cent of its energy needs by using renewables, however, this will require the UK government to up its game significantly."
Overall, the industry still employs some 20,000 people in Scottish renewables, but employment figures are lacking data, so this figure may be set to fall in the next 12 months or so.
"Last year saw the removal of – or significant reductions in – schemes to support investment, and no clear signal of how or if these will be replaced for many parts of the industry." Niall Stuart
Niall Stuart, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, said: "The last 15 months have been an extremely challenging time for the renewable energy sector.
"Last year saw the removal of – or significant reductions in – schemes to support investment, and no clear signal of how or if these will be replaced for many parts of the industry.
"2015 saw the lowest deployment of new renewable electricity generating capacity in Scotland since 2010, and was the second-worst year since 2007.
"We have seen many companies in the sector downsize their teams already, and I worry that we are going to see further contraction in the sector unless and until we get a viable framework for future investment.
"The irony in all of this is that our sector continues to enjoy strong public support, and Scotland and the UK need a massive increase in renewable energy between now and 2030 if we are to meet our climate change targets at the lowest cost to consumers.
"If we want continued investment and to maintain employment in the sector then it is vitally important that government proceeds as soon as possible with the long-overdue auction for contracts for renewable power, and that onshore wind and solar are brought back into future auction rounds."
"Recent decisions taken at UK level have been damaging to key areas of the industry." Scottish Government
In related energy sector news, there has been a marked increase of new or sector specific trade associations being founded, which have come in to competition with Scottish Renewables as a result of the association's domination by the declining wind power bodies.
These are the Solar Trade Association Scotland and the Scottish Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association which all provide a range of corporate member services.
Moreover, the Scottish Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association, which now has 100 members, will hold a two-day annual conference in St. Andrews at the end of this month.
This year’s theme is low carbon energy systems with hydrogen and fuel cells and will showcase the pivotal role for hydrogen and fuel cell technologies in the development and deployment of low carbon integrated energy systems.
Key speakers will include Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, secretary general of Hydrogen Europe, and Chris Stark, director, Scottish Government Energy Team
Picture courtesy of OLC Fiber
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