EXCLUSIVE – by Scottish Energy News
“Electricity needs variety – and variety alone” was the theme of the keynote Power Scotland Conference address yesterday by Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing, MSP.
Quoting legendary wartime prime minister Winston Churchill, Ewing summed up Scottish energy industry as needing a variety of generators to solve the trilemma – or, as is widely agreed, the quadrilema of energy policy in Scotland when fuel-poverty issues are factored into the price, stability and security of electricity supply equation.
Ewing was giving the keynote address at the annual Power Scotland Conference in Glasgow yesterday, organised by the Industrial and Power Association (IPA), which – uniquely – represents all sectors and all energy types and all types of electricity industry supply chain companies in Scotland.
The Minister said: “Security of supply is an absolute priority – but we also need a balanced supply of electricity generation because it’s not all about renewables.
“Certainly we will need stability of base load electricity supply from a combination of successful operation of Scotland’s nuclear power stations at Torness and Hunterston, and also from the coal-fired Longannet power station for some considerable time.
“Wind power needs base-load back-up and it will not be until the 2020s that we see big wave-power contributing to electricity supply in Scotland.
“Electricity is not just about de-carbonising the generation industry – we only need to cast a glance at events in Ukraine to be reminded about the important of stability of generation and security of supply to realise that,” he told delegates at the Power Scotland Conference.
Moving on to the North Sea oil and gas sector, the Minister lamented the fact that – despite employing more than 200,000 people and with more than 2,000 companies involved in exploration, drilling and supply-chain service companies, Scotland’s Independence Referendum debate had ‘generated more heat than light’ in some print-based media publications and added;”
“The North Sea is now a mature oil and gas exploration field – which means that there is a generation of senior managers and skilled employees who have 40 years’ experience, or more, in operating in challenging environments.
“And their experience – and combined success – means that Scotland is well-equipped to meet the challenges of exploration and production in the Atlantic as well as the North Sea and also in meeting the challenges of the smaller, and more expensive oil and gas fields therein.”
Ewing stressed that the oil and gas sector operating in Scottish waters needed a ‘predictable and stable’ fiscal regime – the absence of which was prominently noted in the Wood Report as being ‘unstable and unpredictable’.
And he said that Scotland should strive to emulate the success of Norway – which is home to the world’s largest sovereign oil wealth fund of some $880 billion, and which had been achieved ‘ without standing on the shoulders of a larger nation-state’ ( a reference to David Cameron’s speech following his UK Government cabinet meeting in Aberdeen about Scotland needing to stand on the shoulders of the UK to find future investment in ‘hard to reach’ oil and gas fields).