Scotland is ‘world energy hub – but could not afford renewable subsidies as an independent nation’ says UK Energy Minister


Ed Davey, MP
Ed Davey, MP

Scotland is fast becoming a world energy hub – not just in oil & gas, but in renewables too, which generate one-third of all renewable generation in the UK.

Speaking at a renewables conference in Edinburgh, Ed Davey, UK Energy Minister welcomed progress the wind-ustry in Scotland has made over the past 12 months.

Davey said: “When I spoke here last year, the latest figures showed renewables were providing enough electricity to meet roughly 35% of Scotland’s consumption.

“That has now increased to 40% and one third of all renewable generation in the UK is now in Scotland.

“And the pipeline is looking very healthy. My Department’s planning database shows that renewables projects in Scotland are set to generate 5GW have been consented, worth around £4bn, supporting over 4,000 jobs. These include:

  • Dorenell Wind Farm in Moray which is estimated will generate at least £93m in direct benefits for the Scottish economy.
  • The Speyside Biomass Combined Heat and Power Plant at the MaCallan Distillery, which would represent an inward investment of £60 million to the local area.
  • The Inch Cape Offshore Wind Farm set to support up to 1,600 Scottish jobs during construction, and a further 9.7 GW of renewables projects are currently in the planning system worth over £10bn, supporting almost 8,000 jobs.

“And the UK as a whole is also making phenomenal progress.The latest figures show that between the third quarter of 2012 and the third quarter of 2013, renewable electricity generation is up 20% on the previous 12 months.

“Together we are now around half way to our ambition of meeting 30% of the UK’s electricity needs from renewables by 2020. And my prediction is, that with the framework we are putting in place, we’ll do even better than 30%.”

Bloomberg figures show average annual investment in renewables has doubled since 2010 compared to the previous 5 years. And last year almost £8bn was invested in renewables – a record high.

Davey added: “This record is in stark contrast with the rest of Europe, where renewables investment halved between 2012 and 2013.

“Many on the continent are casting envious glances our way and I’ve been able to boast with my European colleagues about how the UK has become Europe’s renewable investment hotspot.”

More controversially, the UK minister said that if Scots were to vote in favour of Independence this year, Scotland would have to raise taxes or cut public spending to pay for subsidies to Scottish renewables.

Davey said: “Over a quarter of all UK support for renewable generation goes to Scotland. These costs and subsidies are spread out over all 27 million households, not just Scotland’s 2.5 million.

“If Scotland were to choose to go it alone, maintaining this level of support would take up a greater proportion of national finances – meaning either higher taxes, higher energy bills or cuts in other areas, with welfare, housing, education, health, defence maybe losing out.”

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