Scotland’s First Minister has demanded a UK Government review security of electricity supply following energy experts’ concerns over the future of thermal generation plant in Scotland.
Following a meeting of her Scottish Energy Advisory Board, Nicola Sturgeon has written to Prime Minister David Cameron to call for an analysis of electricity capacity margins in Scotland and to seek reassurance that the UK Government ‘understands the key role which Scottish capacity plays in ensuring adequate levels of energy security across the UK.’
Scotland is a substantial and reliable net exporter of power to the rest of the UK, with 28% of all Scottish generation exported in 2013, helping to keep the lights on and bills down across these islands.
However, Scotland’s energy security is being compromised by high transmission charges and the absence of a regional capacity assessment and powers to set a separate reliability standard.
This development follows fears that Longannet Power Station may close earlier than planned partly due to the high cost of transmission charges after contract negotiations between Scottish Power and National Grid stalled.
As reported by Scottish Energy News last year, station operator Scottish Power said that 260 jobs were at risk due to the charges; See Scottish Energy Minister seeks UK crisis talks over Longannet as grid-costs raise power black-outs risk – 6 October 2014 http://goo.gl/mN7Vki
In parallel with the First Minister’s letter, Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing is now also seeking urgent talks on Scottish energy security with Steve Holliday, Chief Executive of the National Grid.
Sturgeon said: “It was clear from the meeting of the Scottish Energy Advisory Board that industry experts are concerned about security of supply in Scotland and across the UK, and for the continued maintenance of electricity supplies in a robust manor.
“These issues need to be assessed and that is why I am calling on Prime Minister David Cameron to act.
“It is vital that the UK Government fulfils its statutory responsibility to monitor security of supply issues and does so in an open and transparent way. The actions we have proposed would enable proper public scrutiny of the situation in Scotland.”
Scottish generators – including the Scottish Power plant at Longannet – account for around 12% of the capacity connected to Britain’s high-voltage electricity network, but pay around 35% of the charges.
Sturgeon also told Cameron: “You will be aware the margin of spare capacity in the GB electricity system has diminished substantially in recent years to its lowest level in a generation, exerting upward pressure on the price of electricity.
“Allowing the quantity of reserve energy to fall in this way is extraordinarily risky and fails the first duty of energy policy – to demonstrate that the system is secure and can meet consumers’ electricity needs at all times and under all circumstances.
“The Scottish Government cannot accept a situation where levels of energy security in Scotland are compromised by energy policy and network operation decisions taken outside Scotland.
“It is for this reason we ask the UK Government to initiate a dedicated capacity assessment for Scotland, informed by stakeholder views, and take steps to transfer to the Scottish Parliament the authority to set our own national reliability standard for electricity.
“Together these measures would help to create the conditions necessary to incentivise investment in new thermal capacity in Scotland.”
Hector Grant, Chief Executive, Industrial and Power Association (IPA) Scotland, commented last night: “The security of Scotland’s electricity supply is an issue that we at the Industrial and Power Association have raised over the last year or two and it is heartening that the First Minister has identified this issue with guidance from the Scottish Energy Advisory Board.
“Clean thermal generation will be the basis of our transition to a low carbon economy and our IPA Power Scotland Conference on 19 March tackles this head-on with industry and political speakers presenting and discussing the issues throughout the day.”
Grant confirmed that a synopsis from the event will be forwarded to the Energy Minister Fergus Ewing MSP who in fact will make the opening address at the Power Scotland Conference, which is being held at the soon-to-open Technology and Innovation Centre at Strathclyde University.
The First Minister’s letter to the Prime Minister was also copied to the UK government coalition’s Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, and to Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Chairman of the Scottish Energy Advisory Board.
Is Our Energy Future Secure and Balanced? POWER SCOTLAND CONFERENCE
Keynote speaker Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing – http://goo.gl/N189ce
19 March: Book now