By Martin Kelly
Scotland is the most attractive part of the UK for renewables investment, according to a survey carried out by a leading international law firm.
In a report by Pinsent Masons, entitled ‘Scotland’s place in the Renewable Energy World’, 84% of prominent players in the Scottish renewable energy sector said that the UK is the most likely destination for their investment over the next three years, with Scotland the most attractive.
The study also found that “consistency of government policy and commitment to renewable energy at a national level” was cited by respondents as the single most important factor having an impact on investment decisions.
Commenting, Euan McVicar, an Edinburgh-based Partner in the Energy and Natural Resources practice at Pinsent Masons, said:
“In Scotland, we have seen in excess of £200m invested into onshore wind, and the launch of the Green Investment Bank in Edinburgh will further bolster Scotland’s global standing. There is every reason for confidence.”
Mr McVicar cautioned that whilst independence was not viewed as a barrier to investment in Scotland’s renewables sector, that businesses would want more information as the debate progresses.
He added: “What the survey results suggest is not an opposition to Scottish independence, rather an illustration of the need for detail on what it would mean. Many businesses are well into their 2013-14 business planning and investment cycle and will expect more detail as soon as is feasible.”
Jenny Hogan, director of policy at Scottish Renewables, said: “Regardless of the [referendum] outcome, we believe that Scotland’s renewables industry will continue to make a big contribution to our energy mix as long as three key things are in place: access to finance, access to the grid and a well-balanced planning framework.”
The Pinsent Masons survey follows a report from the UK Committee on Climate Change showing household energy bills will be about £600 higher per year by the end of the decade if the UK relies increasingly on gas, whilst they would only be around £100 higher than today’s average if the UK concentrated on renewable power generation.
Rob Gibson MSP, who recently won the Best Politician at the Scottish Green Energy Awards 2012, said:
“This report from Pinsent Masons is further evidence that Scotland has a huge financial asset in its natural resources and renewable energy potential which already employs tens of thousands of people, supporting the economy in this tough financial climate.
“Scotland is ripe for local and foreign investment and being a world leader in the energy revolution will only enhance our fledgling green industries.
“The SNP Scottish Government is already committed to producing 100% of our electricity needs from renewables by 2020, and this report demonstrates that our commitment to renewables will pay dividends in the future.
“The growth of renewables in Scotland will mean that not only will we be able to supply our own energy needs but will have energy to sell to others.
“Scotland has a total estimated renewables capital investment of well over £46 billion, and will continue to create thousands of new jobs in Scotland.”
A spokeswoman for the Scottish government said: “This survey further endorses Scotland as the place to invest in low carbon and renewable projects, with the vast majority of respondents confirming it is the most attractive place to invest in the UK.”