Devolving energy could lead to £billions as Scotland realises renewable potential

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By G.A.Ponsonby
 
Scotland could earn at least £2bn a year and become a world leader in new-energy technologies according to a new report by an independent think tank.
 
The report, published by Reform Scotland, has produced figures showing that electricity export alone would result in an annual income of around £2 billion.  The figure does not include the enormous potential available via the export of skills and technology to other countries.

Reform Scotland’s report says: “As a result of Scotland’s natural energy resources, the strengths of the university research base, the energy companies based in Scotland and a favourable policy environment, Scotland could become a world-leader.”

It adds: “Scotland needs an energy policy that recognises this opportunity and removes the barriers to realising it.”

However the report claims that Scotland will only unlock its full potential if energy policy is fully devolved.

SNP MSP Rob Gibson, a member of the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Affairs, Climate Change and Environment Committee, says the report shows energy policy must be devolved to allow Scotland to fully flourish.

The Caithness, Sutherland and Ross MSP said:

“This is a fantastic report that proves Scotland has a competitive advantage in many forms of energy technologies.

“Scotland has fantastic natural resources and assets to make an enormous contribution to renewable energy generation and carbon reduction – proven in this report that says we could earn £2bn a year exporting electricity.”

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland Graeme Blackett of Reform Scotland addressed claims by Labour MP Tom Greatrex that subsidies had not been taken into account.

Mr Blackett, who is also co-founder and Managing Director of BiGGAR Economics Limited, a leading economic consultancy based in Roslin, pointed out that renewables required just over £1bn, whereas nuclear decommissioning alone was currently costing taxpayers £2bn per year.

Welcoming the report’s support for the SNP’s phasing out of new nuclear plants and more investment in renewables Rob Gibson added:

“This report recognises Scotland’s potential and the UK Government must do the same and devolve full energy policy to Scotland.

“For Westminster to refuse to do this would leave people asking why UK ministers want to stop Scotland from reaching its full potential.

“Scotland has the capacity to be a leader in sustainable development and export the technology and knowledge around the world.”

The report on Scotland’s huge green potential came on the same day as another report claimed that the UK as a whole could not rely on renewables to fill the energy gap.

The second report, compiled jointly by the Adam Smith Institute and the Scientific Alliance, claimed that renewable technology was “incapable of making a major contribution to energy security” and offered “limited potential to reduce carbon dioxide emissions”.

The report claims were savaged by Scottish Renewables who described it as one-sided and said it completely overlooked the benefits of renewables.

Scottish Renewables spokesman Niall Stuart said: “The report is full of serious flaws and oversights, and not once does it mention the need to tackle climate change, or its massive economic, social and environmental costs.

“The authors completely overlook the latest evidence on cost showing that large-scale onshore wind is already cheaper than nuclear, with large reductions in the costs of all renewables in the future.

“They also fail to mention the huge increases in bills this winter as a result of the UK’s reliance on imported gas.”

WWF Scotland director Dr Richard Dixon claimed the report was based on out of date research and said: “This report comprises a selection of tired and unconvincing myths about renewables and is a distraction from our fight to reduce carbon emissions.

“The report’s attacks on renewables just don’t stack up.  More renewables really do mean less fossil fuels burnt.”