Ed Davey: Independent Scotland could damage UK renewables sector

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey has suggested that the rest of the UK would not be willing to subsidise Scottish renewables if the country gains independence.

Speaking at the All Energy Conference today in Aberdeen, Davey announced that since 2010 more than £29bn has been invested in UK renewables with the potential to support around 3,000 jobs.

The figures, produced by DECC, show that out of the investment, £13.1bn went into the Scottish renewable sector, creating 9,143 jobs, while £14.4bn was invested in England creating 18,613 jobs.

Davey said: “Scotland could go it alone. Just as the UK could go it alone outside the EU but in both cases, our respective citizens would be less secure, less prosperous and less influential.”

Under the current Renewables Obligation system about 37% of the support – around £530m annually – goes to Scottish renewables projects but only 9% of UK electricity sales come from Scotland.

“So would an independent Scotland be able to deliver the same support to renewables on the back of a domestic electricity market that is only one 10th the size of the UK?” asked Davey.

Currently Scottish renewables benefit from the ability to spread investment costs across the whole of the UK consumer base.

As part of the British energy market and as net exporters of energy, Scotland has access to a market of more than 23 million households and the integrated energy networks that deliver them.

Davey said that with independence, “we cannot assume that English, Welsh and Northern Irish consumers would still be willing to subsidise Scottish renewables.”

He added: “It will be much harder for a nation potentially having to spread the costs of investment in renewables across just two and a half million households to keep prices competitive.

“I believe Scottish renewables have flourished precisely because Scotland is part of the United Kingdom. Our collective energy system has underpinned the success seen to date.”

Conor McGlone

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