Niall Stuart has been in the Chief Executive’s post at Scottish Renewables since 2009 – the ‘representative voice of the renewable energy industry in Scotland’. Before that he was a Press and Government Affairs Manager with SCDI. He is a member of the First Minister’s Energy Advisory Board and also co-chairs the Renewable Industry Advisory Group with Fergus Ewing, Energy Minister. He will lead the Scottish Renewables to achieve growth and prosperity. That much is clear on a Blog which I happened to read when I was researching this. But what is he really like? He’s definitely a policy maker. But, perhaps most important, what is his commercial sense in the business? What does he think?
A speech he made in the early summer of 2013 should give you some idea. It was in response to both the UK and the Scottish Governments and was about Scottish Islands Renewable Project and he said:
“This confirms what we have been arguing for some time. It makes no sense to UK consumers or the Scottish islands for renewable energy projects to be held back by massive transmission charges.
“The islands have great potential for wind, wave and tidal energy, and can make a huge contribution to the growth of renewables, and the cleaning up of our energy sector. Likewise, local economies would receive a massive boost from the likely investment and jobs that could be created by projects on the islands.
“Our world-leading wave and tidal industry will not progress unless government intervenes to bring down charges, which are currently estimated to be up to 7 times higher on the islands than the mainland.”
“This is welcome recognition of the problem, but we now need to see a solution that will bring charges down to a level that allows renewable projects to go ahead. That could be a cap on charges or an additional level of support for generators, both of which are questions that can only be answered by the UK Government. We also want to see Scottish and UK governments look at drawing down funds from the European Investment Bank, which could be used to help fund the necessary island grid infrastructure at a lower level of interest.”
His commercial nous is honed to perfection.
Stuart, after the Scottish Green Energy Awards last week, was equally keen to have renewables the main attraction of the night. He said:
“The story of renewables in Scotland is one of which everyone in the country should be proud. The industry’s output has more than doubled in five years – we’re a country which is leading the way with skills and technology, and we have a whole clutch of European and world firsts, from Orkney and Lewis to Ayrshire and Fife.
“Everyone at the 11th Scottish Green Energy Awards is part of that story. Without their work, often pushing the boundaries internationally as well as here in Scotland, we wouldn’t be where we are today, and it is because of that that I congratulate not only our winners, but every single one of the 175 nominations we received this year.”
In February this year speaking in the magazine Project Scotland he said:
“It’s very simple; if you want to protect consumers from rising energy prices you must ensure that more of our electricity and heat comes from renewable energy sources. This conclusion isn’t one that the renewables industry has reached but that of two major investigations carried out by the regulator Ofgen and the independent Committee on Climate Change.
It has long been recognised that we need a mix of energy sources and renewables can and does play a major role in that mix. I don’t think the public will support a policy that attacks an industry delivering thousands of jobs, investment worth billions and helps tackle climate change.”
It’s really not rocket science…