Energy academics warn of possibility of blackouts in new article

Two leading energy academics from Robert Gordon University (RGU) have warned ‘the future may be even bleaker’ with families and pensioners facing the ‘very real’ possibility of blackouts.

Prof-Peter-StrachanProfessor of Energy Policy Peter Strachan and Professor of Petroleum Accounting Alex Russell focus on a range of energy issues in a newly published article entitled ‘The coalition’s attitude to Renewables and Scotland is a risk to National security’.

The academics have criticised Westminster’s attitude to energy policy and states that the UK Government has been underplaying the important role of the Scottish electricity generation.

The article says:

“Westminster has failed to control rising electricity and gas prices. Between 1997 and 2013, UK households saw combined electricity and gas prices by 54% in real terms. In contrast, family income has fallen in real terms by approximately 7% over this period. Little wonder families are under financial pressure. And according to the charity Age UK, 20% of pensioners are being forced to reduce their energy bills by cutting back on heating their homes.

“The future could be even bleaker, with families and pensioners facing the very real possibility of blackouts in the next year or two. Both the industry regulator Ofgem and the Scottish Government in its recent paper ‘UK Energy Policy and Scotland’s Contribution to Security of Supply’ have pointed to the looming danger of widespread power shortages across the UK. Ofgem in a report to be published later this month is very likely to highlight that spare electricity capacity has declined even further.

Professor Alex Russell4“The UK Government rubbishing of the case for Scottish Independence at every available opportunity seems to have contributed to a climate of market uncertainty, not least from its recent paper ‘Scotland analysis: energy’. Recent decisions by leading UK and International utility companies to restructure their portfolios and cancel projects illustrates clearly the lack of market confidence.

“Westminster’s intention to curb solar power subsidies and to possible abandon future UK onshore wind subsidies completely has heightened the risk of power shortages. If more developers and investors withdraw, it also risks increasing electricity prices in the face of supply shortages.

“The irony is that both solar and onshore wind have established themselves as mature, clean and relatively cost-effective power options. Unlike the adverse public perception of fracking and nuclear power, opinion polls, including those produced by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), consistently show very high levels of public support for renewables.”

The key role of Scotland’s renewable energy capacity in keeping the lights on south of the border is pointed out in the article – which states that ‘in all likelihood, a rump UK would have no choice but to buy Scotland’s electricity generating surplus of around 25%’ – and states that the UK Government has been underplaying the important role of Scottish electricity generation.

The article by Prof Strachan and Prof Russell also explains that to avoid blackouts and further electricity price increases, Westminster now needs to stop the political posturing and take preventative action by raising its commitment to renewables and accepting the importance of Scotland in the equation regardless of whether it chooses to vote for independence.

It concludes:

“On this vital matter of national energy security, the Government appears totally out of touch.”

‘The coalition’s attitude to renewables and Scotland is a risk to national security’ has been published on The Conversation.


Pictured are Professor of Energy Policy, Peter Strachan (top) and Professor of Petroleum Accounting Alex Russell


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