SCOTLAND’S renewables sector will enter “a real crisis” if Brexit uncertainty continues, an expert claims.
Professor Peter Cameron, of Dundee University, says the eco-energy industry is “one of the most positive consequences of devolution”.
However, the academic, who leads the university’s Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy, says questions over post-Brexit policy and regulations now threaten its future.
He told ‘The National’: “Scotland is producing two thirds of the renewable energy in the whole of the UK.
“But if we get a continuation of the uncertainty of the last 12 months for another couple of years, then I think we are talking about a real crisis in the industry.”
Speaking ahead of the Renewables After Brexit conference, which begins at the university tomorrow (1 December 2017) Cameron said major Holyrood, Westminster and Brussels have, in the main, followed a shared approach to the transition to a low carbon economy.
However, he says major concern now exists around possible deviation after the UK quits the bloc. This includes questions over whether London will devolve areas related to energy when powers return from the EU.
Renewables After Brexit: bit.ly/BuyNowRAB
Dundee University 1 Dec 2017
Cameron said: “Scotland’s growing and robust renewables industry is one of the most positives consequences of devolution.
“Over the past decade, the Scottish Government has achieved spectacular growth in this industry and Scotland’s renewable energy sector is intimately linked to the rest of Europe.
“Renewable energy was a key focus of Alex Salmond’s government and delegates will hear his views on how the industry may fare post-Brexit.
“The future could be positive since Scotland and the EU are committed to meeting demanding renewable energy targets, but there are concerns over what happens if companies based here cannot access EU markets and over the industry’s regulatory framework.
“What happens in the Brexit negotiations is of vital importance to the renewables sector in Scotland.”
Meanwhile, Cameron says action is needed to increase research and development in Scotland, which much of the technical advancement currently taking place elsewhere.
He said: “That is something that would benefit from Holyrood investment on improving education.
“A smart approach would be not to try and do it on our own, but to develop joint enterprises. Other people are trying to innovate too.
“You have got neighbours like Norway and the European Union and there’s no reason we shouldn’t enjoy some partnerships and share expertise with foreign countries.”
Meanwhile, EU member states today agreed to protect the bloc’s carbon market from a hard Brexit by invalidating UK-issued allowances from 2018 unless Britain ensures its companies meet their obligations under the scheme before it leaves the bloc.
Britain has said it wants to remain in the European Union’s Emissions Trading System (ETS), which charges power plants and factories for every tonne of carbon dioxide (CO2) they emit, until at least the end of 2020 when the current trading phase ends.
Under the so-called Brexit safeguard measure agreed today, carbon permits issued by Britain would be marked so they can be identified.
British permits would also be restricted from use in the scheme from January 2018 unless Britain ensures that its allowances are surrendered at least before March 15, 2019 – just two weeks before Britain is scheduled to quit the EU, the European Commission said in a statement.