First Minister Alex Salmond will today (8 April) speak at the ‘Bloomberg Future of Energy Summit’ – one of the world’s most prestigious annual energy events – where he will highlight Scotland’s potential to become the intellectual powerhouse of green energy in a wide-ranging address covering global energy trends, security of supply and the Scottish government’s continued resistance of new nuclear power stations in the UK.
He said: “For Scotland, these European and global challenges represent opportunity. We have just over 8% of the UK’s population; and 1% of the EU’s population.
“But we have 90% of the UK’s hydro capacity, 64% of the EU’s oil reserves, 25% of the EU’s offshore wind and tidal power potential, and 10% of its wave power potential. And we are 100% committed.
“Our energy resources can power much of Europe; our energy innovation can power the world. It’s a time for Scotland – working with nations and companies from across the planet – to become the intellectual powerhouse of green energy.”
The summit is also being addressed by the US Secretary of Energy, Dr Ernest Moniz, Jill Anderson, Chief of Staff, New York Power Authority, and Michael Bloomberg.
Salmond added: “Scotland is blessed with many strengths in energy innovation – Aberdeen has long been Europe’s oil and gas capital, while Glasgow has become pre-eminent in the development of offshore wind technology, for which it is now the leading research centre in Europe.
Alex Salmond, MSP, Scotland’s First Minister
“That research base is strengthened by the quality of our higher education. In global terms, Scotland has more universities in the world’s top 200, per head of population, than any other country.
“We’ve also got a long history of excellence in engineering, especially marine engineering. A century ago, Scotland built almost a quarter of the world’s shipping tonnage. Now, our oil and gas supply chain is a global leader in subsea technology with operations in more than 100 countries worldwide and exports worth over $13.5 billion dollars last year.
“The energy resources of Scotland’s are vast and varied – of oil, gas, hydro, offshore wind, wave and tidal power. Per head of population, we are the most energy-rich nation in the European Union.
“The question of how we build on those strengths is an important part of Scotland’s constitutional debate. Independence would give responsibility for Scotland’s natural resources to the people who are most likely to harness them wisely – the people who live and work in Scotland. It would allow us to adopt policies which meet our priorities and specialisms. That would benefit Scotland, and it would also benefit our energy industry.
“If you look at the oil and gas sector, successive UK Governments have imposed 16 tax changes on the sector in the last decade. No government with an understanding of the North Sea industry would do that. It’s no way to encourage investment and maximise extraction rates.
“To take another example, in October the UK Government signed a contract for the construction of one nuclear power station, with two reactors, in England.
“The contract involves subsidy payments of up to £1 billion per year for the next 35 years. That’s £35 billion to support a mature technology in one power station. By way of comparison, those subsidies are four times the total support, under the Renewable Obligation, for all of the UK’s renewable power in the decade to 2012.
“An independent Scottish Government would choose very different priorities.
“We would co-operate very closely with the rest of the UK – the European energy market is becoming increasingly integrated. But we would take a long term approach to supporting the energy industry.
“There are undoubtedly major challenges facing the energy industry globally at present. Some of the energy security and environmental consequences of the world’s heavy reliance on hydrocarbon energy are now coming home to roost.”