With an early start to the new Holyrood parliamentary term today – so as to leave a ‘purdah’ period for Scotland’s Independence Referendum next month – the Scottish Conservatives have set a potential trap for the Scottish Government over its hopes that that taxpayers in England would continue to subsides development of renewable energy projects in Scotland after independence.
Based on the precedent of the recent European Court of Justice ruling, Murdo Fraser, MSP, Chairman of the Scottish Parliament’s Energy Committee, has put down two questions for Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing to answer on this issue.
In the ECJ case, the court rule in the case of Alands Vindkraft AB v Energimyndigheten [the Swedish Energy Agency] it was decided that such cross-border subsidies are not legal. Consequently, Fraser has asked the Scottish Government:
“What impact the European Court of Justice ruling ] will have on its plans for renewable energy in an independent Scotland and how an independent Scotland will fund (a) existing and (b) planned renewable energy schemes and what impact this will have on consumers.”
In its ruling in Ålands Vindkraft AB v Energimyndigheten (C-573/12) the European Court of Justice (ECJ) found that the Swedish green certificate scheme is compatible with EU law. The case was brought in Sweden and referred by the competent Swedish court to Luxembourg. The referring court asked the ECJ whether a support scheme for renewable energy, which excludes foreign generation sources from participating in the scheme, such as the Swedish green certificate scheme, infringes EU rules guaranteeing free trade within the internal market.
The ECJ considered, in essence, that a restriction of the internal market rules is justified based on current EU law, notably given that the EU has not harmonised national support schemes for green electricity.
Many renewable industry observers consider the judgment, which contradicts the Opinion of Advocate General Bot issued earlier this year, to be a missed opportunity to help Europe find a more efficient way to support renewables and restore the integrity of the internal electricity market (IEM).
* Meanwhile, Tavish Scott, LibDem MSP (Shetland) has also asked the Scottish Government ‘what plans or proposals there are to take forward renewables projects in the Scottish Government estate.’