Scottish Energy Minister launches nuclear attack on UK government energy subsidies

Fergus Ewing, MSP, Scottish Energy Minister

Fergus Ewing, MSP, Scottish Energy Minister

Fergus Ewing, Scottish Energy Minister, yesterday delivered a ringing endorsement of Scotland’s renewables energy sector amidst an all-out attack on UK government nuclear energy subsidies.

Delivering the flagship formal opening address at Aberdeen conference centre, the Minister provided a cogent strategic overview of key UK and Scottish energy and renewables industry investments.

He lambasted the UK Government’s decision to provide a ‘£35 billion subsidy’ to the British nuclear generating industry via the £92/hour strike price to buy nuclear electricity from Hinckley Point C for the next 30 years.

He said; “By 2030, Scotland’s offshore wind industry has the potential to be the least expensive means of electricity generation.”

And he contrasted this ‘massive’ public subsidy with the considerably lower strike prices for renewable energy electricity generators, adding that ‘it is by no means certain that the EU Commission will tick-up the UK government subsidies for new UK nuclear power stations because this will run contrary to EU policies on state-aid to sectoral interests.”

Ewing stated that offshore wind generators can be profitable by 2025-30 with a strike price of £100/hr adding; “By this time, the economic and employment benefits of a profitable offshore Scottish wind energy sector will be massively greater than other forms of electricity generation.”

The Scottish Energy Minister also criticised the UK Department for Energy (DECC) over its decision to expressly exclude the SSE/Sea Green Beatrice wind farm development in the Moray Firth as being ‘damaging’ to Scotland’s renewables energy sector. He also indicated  that the developers will be lobbying hard by writing to DECC Ministers to  try to reverse this decision.

In a wide-ranging address, Ewing also said that the UK/ Ofgem/ DECC EMR (electricity market reform) is ‘fundamentally flawed and almost comically complex’.

He said: “Scotland has the potential to be a world leader in renewable energy if we can successfully resolve the Energy Market Reform proposals being promoted by the UK Government.

And in a clear message to Scotland’s renewables energy sector, he added: “The Scottish Government is absolutely committed to offshore wind energy in Scotland” and he highlighted the ‘robust and scrupulous’ marine planning/ permission/ consents policy now being rolled out by Marine Scotland.”

Ewing added: “The UK government’s ambition for wind-generated electricity is far too low and I am deeply concerned about the UK Government/ DECC decision to exclude the SSE Beatrice wind farm project from the ‘approved list’ in investment-ready vehicles.

“That is why I have written to Ed Davey (UK Energy Minister) explaining our concerns about the threat that the DECC decision poses to investment in Scotland’s renewable energy industries.

“As things presently stand, the £92/ hour strike price/ mechanism which  the UK Government has agreed to as way of whole-of-life subsidy for the Hinckley Point-C new nuclear power station will actively undermine our potential to create new energy jobs in Scotland.”

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