Isles MP – Electricity Transmission charges set to Change for Green Energy

Na h-Eileanan an Iar SNP MP, Angus MacNeil has met with Kwasi Kwarteng, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) along with representatives from Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) and Ofgem in a bid to resolve the grossly unfair transmission costs (TNUoS) in the North of Scotland.

Currently, it costs on average about 46p per megawatt hour (MWh) to transmit electricity from the European Union into the UK energy market, but the cost is £6.42 for Scotland in general and £7.36 for the north of Scotland, which is a staggering 16 times more than sending energy from Germany, France or the Netherlands into the UK market.  The UK uses an artificial method of setting charges for electricity generation on the power lines called TNUoS, (Transmission Network Use of System) to pay for the grid costs but perversely it pays out money in parts of the UK to try to generate energy where the wind doesn’t blow as well as Scotland.

Commenting Angus MacNeil MP said:

“After arranging a meeting some weeks ago with BEIS Secretary of State, Kwasi Kwarteng, to get everyone round the table, especially the UK Government and Ofgem on electricity transmission charges, I was heartened by the robust and business-like approach from Mr Kwarteng, who felt something must get done about the “TNUoS” charges, that the dilly-dallying has been going on for far too long and that things will change.  

“Clearly things have to change when the costs of transmitting a MWh is 46p from the European Union into the UK market but £6.42 for Scotland and £7.36 for the Highlands and Islands, which is bad for renewable energy production.

“Indeed, only yesterday the International Panel on Climate Change is again calling on the need for more green energy to save the planet, but the current Ofgem charging structure adds costs unnecessarily in Scotland and as a result has meant less green electricity generation – this has to change.

“Renewable projects have been hampered or stopped because of the need to pay excessive transmission charges which has stopped clean green electricity being generated, the presence of the Stornoway Trust, at the meeting helped illustrate this.  The UK Government says that it has to finance the transmission network in some way, but in some places they are giving subsidies, actually giving money away from the transmission network, to generate.  Whilst in the north and west of Scotland, where the energy wind resource is best, it is prohibitively expensive to produce energy.  

“Bizarrely the UK has created a system that favours EU generators of any type of energy, over Scottish green generators. On average it is 16 times cheaper to send electricity from the independent countries of Europe into the UK market than from the north of Scotland.  The 30-year-old TNUoS system is out of date and not fit for purpose.

“Energy could be produced in the Scottish Islands at the moment that could be equivalent to the 10% electricity that the UK is importing daily from the European Union.  Transmission charges hamper this.

“We have a chance to change things now.  We can see that being reliant on energy from elsewhere, as we are seeing at this time of war in Europe, is not the wisest of policies.  Policy change here could bring about more energy production from the abundant wind that we have in the north and west coast of Scotland.

“At a time when we need energy and there is free renewable wind energy available and if we change this bureaucracy, then we will have more clean, green energy being produced.  If the UK is going to meet the 2050 net zero targets or if Europe & the World is going to meet these targets, then the use of clean, green energy should be encouraged and not blocked by Ofgem’s TNUoS system.  This system is 30 years old, out of date and designed for the production of energy being near centres of population which was fine when coal was being burned for electricity decades ago, unfortunately for the bureaucracy of Ofgem’s TNUoS, the wind blows where it will, and that is not usually near centres of population.

“I hope that Ofgem, BEIS, SSE and myself can continue to work on this to crack this issue, so that in the end Scottish energy has the same chance of access to the UK energy market as that produced in the European Union.”