In a country with just 8% of the UK’s population, Scotland accounts for around a quarter of UK capacity and over two-thirds of renewable power in the devolved administrations.
This underlines how far Scotland has come from dependence on oil and gas production, and how much it has contributed to meeting the UK’s carbon reduction targets.
It is rightly recognised as a success story, and is a global leader among the countries determined to make the transition to a low carbon economy. Yet, looking closer, the fragility of this trend is apparent.
Scotland’s renewable energy sector is intimately linked to the rest of Europe in its corporate ownership links, the sale of its power and the purchase of its equipment and infrastructure.
Changes in the UK relationship to Europe will inevitably impact on Scotland whatever the form of Brexit and/or Scotland’s political future.
Scotland has already dealt with considerable policy uncertainty due to the current structure of devolution; as a part of the UK, the Scottish Government has only some devolved powers over renewable energy with the rest reserved to the UK Government.
This has led to increasing divergence between Scottish and UK policy, with Scotland arguably more aligned with the EU as a result.
With Brexit, all the policy-makers – at Holyrood, Westminster and Brussels – will have to review their commitments to renewable energy but, just as importantly, to subsidies, infrastructure and tariffs.
Investors – from the USA to China – will be weighing their options very carefully in light of the withdrawal arrangements. Contracting, supply chains, subsidies, financing and trading will all be affected. Uncertainty about costs will soon become a fact of life for the sector.
Yet policy support cannot simply dissolve into the mist. As the Paris Agreement on climate change takes effect, the commitments to the sector will continue from the EU, from Westminster and crucially from the Scottish Government in Holyrood.
To date, their policies have helped to change the economics and acceptability of renewable energy in ways no-one could have expected 10 years ago.
- So, what should they be doing now to mitigate this uncertainty?
- What form should further support for the sector take when EU support mechanisms cease?
- What is the likely trend of EU policy on renewable energy as it plans to introduce a series of new measures across the member countries?
- Will the EU be negative or retaliatory or will it be cooperative?
One key issue will be the degree of continuity or change evidenced by the UK renewables sector going forward.
This is not a meeting to discuss the form of Brexit or the pros and cons of it. Rather, it is a sharing of knowledge to inform our conversation about Scotland’s energy future at a time of energy and political transition; a time when the next round of policy choices may well determine what the future will look like and indeed whether it has a future.
We invite you to join us in shaping the future conversation about Renewables After Brexit in Scotland.
Professor Peter Cameron, PhD FRSE FCIArb
Director, Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law & Policy
School of Social Sciences, University of Dundee
Note: Dundee University and its energy centre – the Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy or CEPMLP – is part of this transition story. Set up at the start of the North Sea oil and gas boom, the Centre celebrates its 40th birthday in 2017. It has been reorganising its course curriculum to reflect the new energy mix, and prepare its students to lead in a more diverse and complex multi-polar energy world.
The link below gives an outline of the conference programme. Please note that this is subject to change.
09:00 – 09:30
Registration, Refreshments & Networking
09:30 – 09:45
Welcome & Opening Remarks
Professor John Rowan – Dean of the School of Social Sciences, University of Dundee
09:45 – 11:15
Lord Ian Duncan – Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Scotland
Professor Jorge Vasconcelos – Founder of the Council of European Energy Regulators and Member of the Energy Roadmap 2050 Advisory Group
Brexit and the EU Emissions Trading Scheme
Dr. Leonie Reins – Assistant Professor, Tilburg Institute for Law
11:15 – 12:00
Rt Hon Alex Salmond – Former First Minister of Scotland
12:00 – 13:00
Lunch, Refreshments & Networking
13:00 – 14:30
Anne McCall – Director, RSPB Scotland
Planning for Renewables After Brexit
John Campbell QC – Hastie Stable, Faculty of Scottish Advocates
Brexit and the UK Industrial Strategy
Mark Sommerfeld – Policy Analyst, Renewable Energy Association
14:30 – 14:45
Refreshments & Networking
14:45 – 15:30
Dave Pearson – Director of Star Renewable Energy and Chair of the Heat Pump Panel at the Renewable Heating and Cooling Platform
Surviving Brexit: An Absolute Pivot
Graham Provest – Managing Director, Absolute
15:30 – 17:00
Ian Dunsmore – Heat from Waste Water Project Manager, Scottish Water Horizons
Graham Provest – Managing Director, Absolute
17:00 – 18:00
Networking Drinks Reception