IN THE UK's 'challenging' new policy environment for renewable energy, where support mechanisms are under pressure and subsidies have been progressively reduced, the green energy sector is "re-assessing its development trajectory".

According to sector advisers Bidwells, while some might suggest that the industry is "unloved and unwanted", the positive outlook to take is that the industry is coming of age – a view echoed by the public who, in a recent UK Government survey, revealed that support for renewable technologies is at record high levels. In contrast, opposition to renewables has nearly completely diminished with just 4% of those surveyed expressing opposition to them.

While the industry waits for Westminster to get this message, and end its recent bout of anti-renewables policy decisions, Holyrood's forward plan continues to push for electricity, from a variety of renewable sources, to become a bigger part of Scotland's energy mix.

While this country has already benefitted from its substantial wind and water resources, there could be further opportunity in other sectors. In particular, solar developers, who had concentrated on areas of high irradiation in the South West of England, are turning their attentions to Scotland as an emerging market, especially coastal areas with good irradiation, where they hope fewer existing developments will mean obtaining grid connections will be easier and there will be less opposition to planning applications. Scotland is regarded as a key opportunity to make solar farm developments economic without subsidy, offering landowners a new prospect for diversified income.

At the same time, there is also very strong competition from developers for energy storage sites next to substations. The government has paved a path for energy storage to be deployed on a much wider scale and over the coming months Bidwells expects to see increased interest from clients looking at stand-alone projects and those who are looking to deploy behind the meter storage

“Easy profits may no longer be available but, with commercial awareness and an appreciation of the evolving industry imperatives, rewards can still be found in this sector,” noted Bidwells’ Energy and Renewables team partner Rosalind Clifford.