I attended the Scottish Renewables hydro conference in Perth last week. My colleague, Sarah-Jane McArthur was on the panel. Given the unprecedented number of pre-accredited schemes, the 2-year window for construction and an increasing degression rate, some strong messages were put forward:-

Hydro - river in field
  • Hydro technology offers a long term return but it may offer fewer opportunities to reduce costs through innovation than other technologies.
  • A 2 year window for building out is short particularly when taking into account unforeseen circumstances on site (hen harriers and pine martens, to name some encountered…)
  • 2015-2016 is expected to be a busy period for construction of pre-accredited schemes but looking towards 2020 the picture is more uncertain as cuts in the FiT scheme are expected and degression rises.
  • Does the existing CfD scheme operate effectively for hydro? The Government might consider other solutions, e.g. setting aside a separate pot for hydro schemes or introducing a “minima”.
  • Solutions to existing concerns may include (i) revising hydro tariffs, (ii) adjusting the degression rate on a more gradual basis, (iii) implementing a grace period for connection delays and (iv) changing the pre-accreditation window.

There was a good turnout at the conference. There seem to be many willing to contribute to the discussion about what the UK and Scottish Governments can do to secure the future of hydro development in Scotland. With hydro offering reliable infrastructure and long term returns, this is a technology that can continue to boost the renewables sector but only if the existing legislative framework is reviewed.


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