Scotland demands more strategic UK energy policy in wake of no-vote
Scottish Renewables has set out the nation's renewable energy industry's asks ahead of devolution discussions, in a report entitled 'Harnessing Scotland's Energy'.
The trade body’s chief executive Niall Stuart said in a speech to the organisation’s Marine Conference in Inverness: “Given the importance of the contribution that Scotland and the other devolved nations will make to the UK’s energy ambitions, and the growing importance of the sector to all our economies, we believe that it is time for a more coordinated and strategic approach to the formation of energy policy across the UK.
“This should reflect our respective strengths, resources and priorities, and be designed to deliver the optimal energy mix for the UK as we seek to keep down costs for consumers, increase energy security and cut carbon emissions.
So here is Scottish Renewables’ five-point plan for how UK policy-makers should deal with Scotland’s post-referendum energy sector:
1) Connect the Shetland, Orkney and Western Isles to the national grid.
These islands are home to the country’s best wind resources, and key to the development of wave and tidal power.
“We want to see the Scottish and UK Governments commit to getting the islands connected before 2020. No ifs. No buts. No maybes,” said Stuart. “This will allow the islands to contribute to the cleaning-up of our energy sector, while benefitting from the jobs and investment that would follow.”
2) Make energy regulators accountable to Scotland.
“We also believe that it is time for changes to the governance of Ofgem to ensure greater alignment between the energy policies and priorities of the UK and Scotland, with a ‘Scottish Commissioner’ on the Ofgem Board and an annual report by Ofgem to the Scottish Parliament,” said Stuart
3) Invest in marine energy
Scotland is the global leader in the development of wave and tidal energy. However these sectors remain at pre-commercial stages of development
and future growth will require significant levels of capital support from the public.
“Governments and agencies across the UK should pool their resources to take the sector to the next level of development,” said the report.
4) Create a ‘joined up’ energy policy.
“There is a sense that key issues at a Scottish scale are not so important at a UK level, for example investment in hydro power and island transmission connections,” read the report.
“Therefore the UK Government and devolved administrations should agree on a joint energy policy strategy and policy document that sets out overall UK energy policy and the part that each of the devolved nations can play in delivering that.”
5) Devolve power on Shared Ownership to Scottish government
The UK government is currently considering legislation on Shared Ownership: a scheme which would encourage communities to invest in and profit from renewable energy schemes.
The report says “Given the importance of this issue, if UK legislation does progress there should be provision in the Bill for such powers in Scotland to be devolved to the Scottish Government to allow it to choose its own method for bringing forward any shared ownership proposals, which are subject to scrutiny by the Scottish Parliament.
Scotland last week voted to stay in the United Kingdom after voters decisively rejected independence. Ahead of the vote, edie investigated what might have happened to the nation’s renewable sector if Scotland did strike out as an independent country. And after the vote, we heard from energy sector leaders, sustainable business leaders and Green Party politicians to get their reaction on the NO vote and explore where this leaves the UK renewables sector going forward.