The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

The Elite Ayrshire Business Circle

Thursday, 31 December 2009

Scotland must become the green energy powerhouse of Europe

SCOTLAND needs the power to manage its own natural resources so that it can become the energy powerhouse of Europe, First Minister Alex Salmond says in his New Year message.


Mr Salmond predicted a ‘renewables revolution’ emanating from a Scotland which had won the ‘natural lottery’ - with wind, wave and tidal resources offering the capacity to produce some 10 times Scotland’s own electricity requirements.

The First Minister pointed to the Climate Change Act - setting legally binding targets to cut Scottish greenhouse gas emissions by 42 per cent and 80 per cent by 2020 and 2050 respectively - as the most important legislation passed by the Parliament in 2009, even although world leaders in Copenhagen had failed to commit fully to a way forward.

“In Copenhagen I spoke about Scotland’s energy potential, our green energy potential, our ambition to be the energy powerhouse of Europe,” he said.

“Many countries saw the lead that Scotland was taking as an example of the legislation and of the action that must be taken to protect our planet collectively. Despite the disappointment of Copenhagen, people power internationally will force political leadership to commit to the ambitious targets for their countries that Scotland has already set."

But the FM added that Scotland must get the benefit of its own resources if it was to become a major exporter and the energy powerhouse of the Europe.

He said: “Even now, we’re being held back in the exploitation of these renewables because we now have to pay in Scotland much higher connection charges to the electricity grid than companies have to pay south of the border. That’s totally unfair and totally unacceptable.

“If we're going to make the most of this renewable revolution, then we’re going to have to have equal access to the grid - and the powers for our Parliament to secure that proper access.

“And that’s why it’s important, as we move into this New Year, that the people of Scotland are given their say in making sure that their Parliament can extend its powers to have the ability to mobilise the resources of Scotland for Scotland’s benefit.

“The referendum on the constitution is not an abstraction - it’s not something for politicians. It’s something for every person in Scotland. Because if we’re going to harness the power of Scotland, then we need to give Scotland power.

“So this Ne’er Day, as we look forward to 2010, I’m wishing you a happy New Year - renewing the energy of Scotland, renewing Scotland as a country. Have a guid New Year.”

The Climate Change (Scotland) Bill was passed unanimously by the Parliament. The legislation creates a long-term framework that:

* introduces a statutory target to reduce Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80 per cent by 2050;
* establishes an interim target of at least 42 per cent emissions reductions by 2020;
* establishes a framework of annual targets; and
* includes emissions from international aviation and international shipping.

The Scottish Government has also set green energy targets, including meeting 50 per cent of electricity demand from renewable sources by 2020. With 6.5 Gigawatts of renewables capacity installed, consented or under construction, Scotland has surpassed the interim target of 31 per cent by 2011.

The current charging regime requires electricity generators in Scotland to pay the UK's highest transmission costs, while in parts of the south of England companies actually receive a subsidy. Generators in the north of Scotland face charges of around £21.58 per Kilowatt Hour, yet those in London receive £2.70 per kwH while more than twice that subsidy (£6.68) is paid out to firms in Cornwall, according to National Grid’s own figures.

This means that Scottish generators produce 12 per cent of UK generation, but account for 40 per cent of the transmission costs - or about £100 million per year more than their proportionate share.

The First Minister highlighted concerns that the charging regime creates a significant and fundamental barrier to encouraging renewable energy development in Scotland during his meeting with EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs in Brussels last month. The National Grid has rejected Scottish Government proposals to adopt a flat rate charge for use of the system but Ministers continue to engage with National Grid and Ofgem to find a way forward.

On November 30 the Scottish Government published a White Paper - Your Scotland, Your Voice - setting out options for Scotland’s constitutional future and paving the way for Ministers to bring forward a Bill in 2010.

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