By Chris Rumbles
First Minister Alex Salmond will tell an international energy summit in New York that it is time for Scotland to become “the intellectual powerhouse of green energy”.
Mr Salmond will make his address at the annual Bloomberg Future of Energy Summit in New York where he is currently visiting as part of ‘Scotland Week’ in the city.
Scotland’s research base, history of engineering and varied energy resources will be cited as evidence of the country’s potential to further develop its influence in the renewable energy field.
The First Minister will say: “There are undoubtedly major challenges facing the energy industry globally at present.
“Some of the energy, security and environmental consequences of the world’s heavy reliance on hydrocarbon energy are now coming home to roost.
“For Scotland, these European and global challenges represent opportunity. We have just over 8% of the UK’s population; and 1% of the EU’s population. But we have 90% of the UK’s hydro capacity, 64% of the EU’s oil reserves, 25% of the EU’s offshore wind and tidal power potential, and 10% of its wave power potential. And we are 100% committed.
“Our energy resources can power much of Europe; our energy innovation can power the world. It’s a time for Scotland – working with nations and companies from across the planet – to become the intellectual powerhouse of green energy.”
Independence will be highlighted by Salmond as a way for Scotland to pursue “very different priorities” to the rest of the UK in the energy sector while also offering a means for the country to implement policies tailored to its “specialisms” in the renewable industry.
It is expected the First Minister will contrast the UK Government’s £35 billion nuclear power station funding pledge announced last October with the Scottish Government’s £103 million Renewable Energy Investment Fund as evidence of divergent agendas.
The Scottish Government announced in February that the REIF would help tidal power company Atlantis Resources Corporation establish a global engineering hub in Edinburgh, delivering Scotland’s first major tidal energy project in the Pentland Firth.
In December the UK Government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change published figures showing 40.3 per cent of Scotland’s electricity consumption in 2012 was met through the renewable sector – up from 36.3% the previous year and 24.1 per cent in 2010.
The figures indicated the Scottish Government was in line to achieve is interim target for 2015 of half of electricity consumption coming from renewable energy.
2015’s target is part of the Scottish Government’s broader energy commitment outlined in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009.
The legislation details the Scottish Government’s environmental aims that focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 42 per cent for 2020 and 80 per cent for 2050.
Scottish Green Party Co-Convener Patrick Harvie has stated in the past that the Scottish Government’s energy targets were “achievable” but that a lack of support among the main political parties for reducing fossil fuel consumption risked jeopardising such goals.