Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MSP Alasdair Allan yesterday raised the issue of “punitive” transmission charges with Nicola Sturgeon during First Minister’s Questions.

‘Transmission network use of system’ (TNUoS) charges were introduced as a way of encouraging operators to build projects close to urban areas. The islands MSP highlighted the “punitive” charges that renewable developments in the Western Isles face to connect to the national grid and called for the charging system to be overhauled.

A report on transmission charges published by Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks last year analysed how these charges discourage new generation in rural locations, stymying Scotland’s renewables industry.

Alasdair Allan MSP commented:

“We know from the recent COP26 conference just how critical it is that we urgently move away from fossil fuels and towards net zero.

“The Western Isles can play a massive role in that, with some of the greatest renewables potential in Europe. But the present system of transmission charges sees developers in the islands shoulder higher costs than where else in the UK, while equivalent projects in the south of England are actually paid to connect to the grid.

“This has been an issue holding back renewables development for years, with pleas to the UK Government to introduce a level-playing field falling on deaf ears.

“I was pleased that the First Minister agreed a fundamentally new approach is needed, and that the Scottish Government will continue to push for a fairer solution with OFGEM and the UK Government.”

Video of the exchange can be found here.

Extract from Scottish Parliament official report:

Dr Alasdair Allan (Na h-Eileanan an Iar) (SNP)

The First Minister will be aware of the serious impact that exorbitant and unfair transmission charges are having on renewables developments across Scotland. Those charges are particularly punitive for the islands, where developers face higher costs than anywhere else in the United Kingdom to connect to the national grid. What can the Scottish Government do to lobby the United Kingdom Government to reform a system that penalises the very places where the renewables potential is greatest?

The First Minister (Nicola Sturgeon)

Transmission networks’ use of system charges remains a really significant barrier to achieving net zero in Scotland. Indeed, analysis by the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets suggests that by 2040 Scottish renewable and low-carbon generators will be the only ones to pay a wider charge, with all others including gas generators elsewhere in Great Britain, being paid credits. Therefore, it is vital that we move towards identifying and progressing solutions as quickly as possible. A fundamentally new approach is needed and we will continue to raise that with Ofgem and the UK Government, as we have been doing repeatedly—we will continue to push for a fairer solution that recognises the massive renewables capability of Scotland.

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