By Sean Martin
Reports that the Conservatives may pledge to ‘eradicate’ wind turbines around the UK could mean a rise in energy bills and power shortages, the SNP has said.
The manifesto commitment would cap the total number of wind farms, lower Government subsidies for turbines or strengthen planning rules to make them harder to build, a source told The Telegraph this week.
It comes in the wake of an Ofgem warning that the gap between energy supply and demand could be as close as 2% by 2015-16. The National Grid has also reported that the amount of new power station’s capacity expected to connect with the grid by 2016 has been cut by more than half because of investment uncertainty.
However, recent figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change showed that Scotland’s green energy record was broken in 2013. Wind, hydro, solar and biomass generated enough electricity to meet just under half of the country’s needs.
Mike MacKenzie MSP, a member of the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee, called the reported Tory pledge to cap the number of wind turbines ‘reckless’ and said, with independence, the Scottish Government would permanently cut £70 from household energy bills annually.
He added: “Onshore wind plays a key role in Scotland’s energy supply and is responsible for 65% of renewable energy generated in Scotland.
“Westminster’s mismanagement of energy policy is making an already tight margin between energy supply and demand even tighter and, as Scottish Renewables have warned, risks thousands of jobs in the process.”
Professor Stuart Haszeldine of Edinburgh University, an expert in carbon capture and storage (CCS) – the process of capturing carbon dioxide waste and storing it in places where it will not enter and harm the atmosphere – said he was concerned by the lack of support the UK Government gives measures which would benefit climate change.
“We’ve been trying in Scotland to do it since 2005 – we’re now in our third phase of project design – and the problem is not the money, the money is out there. The problem is the political will from the UK Government to invest,” said Professor Haszeldine.
“Right now we’ve got the Peterhead project going ahead and we’re teetering on the edge of a second project at Grangemouth. There’s £2bn of Chinese investment available, but the UK Government refuses to meet with those developers.”
Senior policy manager at Scottish Renewables, Joss Blamire, said most people still do not realise the importance of renewable energy. He stressed the need to remember Scotland’s 2020 target of generating 100% of its electricity needs from renewable sources.
“Even today, many people do not realise the massive contribution renewables make to powering our homes and businesses and reducing our carbon emissions,” said Mr Blamire. “At a time of some change and uncertainty, government and industry must remain focused on our shared goals if the sector is to continue to provide increasing economic, environmental and social benefits to Scotland.”