rUK ‘No Choice’ but to buy Scottish energy after Yes vote say academics


  Threats from the Westminster Government that it may not continue to import energy from an independent Scotland have been branded “totally out of touch” by two leading energy academics.
Writing in The Ecologist, Professor Peter Strachan and Professor Alex Russell, both of Robert Gordon University, dismissed claims that the rest of the UK would refuse to buy electricity from Scotland.

In the article both academics write: “In all likelihood, a rump UK would have no choice but to buy Scotland’s electricity generating surplus of around 25%. The UK government is significantly underplaying the important role that Scotland’s electricity plays in keeping the lights on across the UK.

“And while the English may baulk at effectively subsidising Scotland’s green power sector, there is the consolation that purchasing this spare power will actually make very good commercial sense for Westminster.

“Compared to both English offshore wind and new nuclear build, Scottish onshore wind is much cheaper. Carrying out the threat in the energy paper would be as clear a case of cutting off your nose to spite your face as one can imagine.”

Commenting, SNP MSP Dennis Robertson said:

“These welcome remarks from well-respected academics in the energy sector simply confirm that the Westminster government has been more interested in scare stories than any sensible planning for the future.

“Scotland already exports significant amounts of energy to the rest of the UK and plays a vital role in keeping the lights on south of the border.”

In the article, Professors Strachan and Russell explain that Scotland’s surplus electricity is already playing an important role in keeping lights on south of the border:

“Within the union, this means that Scotland is preventing a bad situation from being worse.” they write.

“In 2012 Scotland exported 10,717GWh to England for example, plus another 2,179GWh to Northern Ireland.  England also relied heavily on imports from its European interconnectors, which supplied 12,197 GWh that year.”

In the article, both academics were also scathing of UK Government plans for new nuclear plants: “A new generation of nuclear stations also requires hundreds of billions of pounds of financial investment – the experience with Hinkley Point C is that the government would potentially end up underwriting large proportions of these costs to bring its vision to life.

“Meanwhile the waste and decommissioning costs will raise electricity bills for households and business even higher. Already 42% of DECC’s annual budget is spent on the UK’s nuclear legacy.

The academics conclude: “In short, to avoid blackouts and further electricity price increases, Westminster now needs to stop the political posturing and take preventative action by raising its commitment to renewables and accepting the importance of Scotland in the equation regardless of whether it chooses to vote for independence.”

Commenting on current energy imports from Scotland, Dennis Robertson added: “That need for Scotland’s vast energy resources will not change after a Yes vote which is why it is simply common sense that an independent Scotland will work closely with the rest of the UK when it comes to energy policy.

“Scotland’s huge renewable resources have created thousands of jobs and will continue to do so as one of the most important sectors of an independent Scotland’s economy.

“Instead of silly scaremongering, it is long past time that the Westminster Government acknowledged that it will continue to need Scotland’s energy if the lights are to be kept on south of the border.”