Scottish independence: What the NO vote means for UK renewables
Scotland has voted to stay in the United Kingdom after voters decisively rejected independence. What impact, if any, will this have on the nation's renewable energy sector?
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 the effects could have been huge.
Energy secretary Ed Davey had warned that if Scotland broke away from the rest of the UK, it would have lost any financial support for the deployment of renewables. Reports from the UK Government noted that a typical medium-sized manufacturer would have seen bills rise by as much as £608,000 per annum.
So it’s clear that a YES vote woould have had a more immediately tangeable impact on the renewable energy industry. But that’s not to say the NO vote means we’ll go straight back to ‘business as usual’.
Edie has 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.
Niall Stuart, chief executive, Scottish Renewables
“Now we know the final result of the referendum it is important that both governments return to working together to meet the incredibly important challenges facing our country, such as tackling climate change and growing the economy. Renewables can make a significant contribution to both.
“The current balance of powers between Westminster and Holyrood has served the renewables industry incredibly well to date, with the sector now generating almost half of Scotland’s electricity demand, employing more than 11,500 people, and displacing millions of tonnes of carbon emissions each year.
“But harder challenges lie ahead as we seek to reach the country’s target of generating the equivalent of all the power we consume by 2020. That is why Scottish Renewables is calling for a new joint Scottish and UK Government energy policy that balances the interests of Scotland within a single GB energy market; a more open and accountable energy regulator; our islands connected up to the grid and coordinated investment by the UK and Scottish Governments to support our flourishing marine energy sector.”
Ben Warren, Environmental Finance Leader, EY UK & Ireland
“The cost of subsidising renewable energy has traditionally been spread across the UK. Today’s result is positive in that Scotland now won’t be left to pay the lion’s share of subsidies given that this is where most of renewable energy is generated.
“The renewables sector still has to face the difficult choices that the new contract for difference (CfD) feed-in tariff regime, the threat of budgetary constraints and further solar subsidy revisions bring, as well as fatigue from constant policy tinkering. And with the current levels of energy market reform underway, the UK’s energy sector was not looking forward to having to digest the impact of an independent Scotland.”
“We know how prolonged policy uncertainty can impact the attractiveness and viability of renewables investment and cause project delays. The UK fell to 7th place in the latest Renewable Country Attractiveness Index (RECAI) and we will be reviewing its position moving forward.”
Mark Kenber, chief executive, The Climate Group
“The people of Scotland have decided to stay in the United Kingdom. As a member of The Climate Group States & Regions Alliance, Scotland has been an inspiration for its significant climate achievements and a world leader for renewable power. Last year alone, Scotland received 46% of its electricity from renewable energy.
“The leadership Scotland shows is exactly what we need from regional governments in tackling climate change, and now that it will remain part of the union we hope that Scotland will continue to set a clear example on the benefit low carbon technologies can provide, both in terms of sustainable resources and economic growth.”
Richard Dixon, director, Friends of the Earth Scotland
“We hope that many of the huge numbers of people who have been engaged on both sides of the referendum campaign will continue to take part in the discussion about the type of country we want Scotland to be.
“The No vote means the start of a lively debate about what more powers might come to the Scottish Parliament. Something missing from the promises so far is full control of energy policy in Scotland. This would greatly help us on the way to 100 per cent renewable energy. Friends of the Earth Scotland will be pressing for this and other measures that would help Scotland become a greener, fairer place. We will continue to hold all our political parties to account for the environmental promises made to the Scottish people.”
Patrick Harvie MSP, co-convener, Scottish Green Party
“The result is clearly a disappointment to us but the huge number of people voting Yes does represent a big step forward for the cause of Scottish independence. We respect the outcome and look forward to working constructively with those who chose to vote No.
“The strength of feeling expressed in the referendum cannot be ignored, and the UK Government cannot be allowed to sweep Scotland aside. Any further devolution must not force Holyrood to implement the UK’s austerity agenda.
“Scottish Greens will closely scrutinise any proposals for further devolution to ensure a transfer of meaningful economic powers, not merely a responsibility to manage Westminster’s cuts.
“We also know that Greens in the rest of the UK will be strong allies in continuing to challenge the UK’s broken political system, which remains wedded to an economic model which has failed to serve the common good.
“The past two years has been an amazing time in Scotland’s history, with a broad-based creative movement reconnecting people to politics. The Green Yes campaign was driven by our ambition for a fairer, greener country. During the months and years ahead I’m determined that we keep that vision firmly in our sights.”
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