Tuesday, 27 Jul 2021

Sturgeon told ‘find new customer’ for independent Scotland’s energy as UK would cut ties

Nicola Sturgeon announces ease on Scotland restrictions

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The leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) has claimed another vote “is the will of the country” and reaffirmed that it is a “matter of when not if”. She also sent a message to Prime Minister Boris Johnson for “picking a fight with the democratic wishes of the Scottish people” after a fourth consecutive victory in the Scottish Parliament election. But should she be successful, Mrs Sturgeon faces potentially losing a huge partner in the energy sector.

Electricity formed a key part of the first independence battle as Scotland boasts one of the most favourable conditions in Europe for harvesting wind energy.

The Scottish government’s 2014 independence proposal stated that a single UK-wide market for each of electricity and gas should continue.

But the Government argued that it saw no basis to justify continued cost-sharing of a single integrated market and stated the arrangement “could not continue in its current form” – essentially cutting ties.

Former UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “I think Britain’s single energy market – where we are integrated as we are now, where energy flows across the border very easily – that makes our energy more secure, it keeps costs down and it will enable us to go green, to go low carbon.

“Split that up and all those benefits go.

“As secretary of state for energy and climate change for the whole of the UK, I really care about what is happening in Scotland.

“If I am no longer secretary of state for energy in Scotland I have to put the interests of consumers in England and Wales and Northern Ireland first.”

Commenting on the situation at the time, risk analyst Adam Leech noted: “The crucial issue is not what Scotland does at home, but whether it can maintain its impact in the UK from the outside.

“If so, it can continue to sell the renewable energy it doesn’t need to the rest of the UK.

“If not, it may need to find a new customer.”

The Government warned that household energy bills would increase by at least £38 and annual household bills could increase by up to £189 if the full cost of supporting renewable energy projects fell to Scottish bill payers.

But the Scottish Government refuted the claims and former Secretary for Rural Economy, Fergus Ewing, even claimed that England’s lights “would go out” without Scotland’s renewable energy.

The SNP said that a single UK-wide market for each of electricity and gas was the only logical step forward.

They also argued that their policies to tackle fuel poverty and improve energy efficiency would be funded by the Scottish Government, rather than energy companies.

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They stated that this would allow companies to reduce bills by around five percent, or approximately £70, every year.

But according to a report by Herbert Smith Freehills, the UK may not be as reliant on Scottish energy as Mr Ewing insinuated.

They stated in April: “In 2019 Scotland produced 15 percent of the UK’s electricity, but only used 10 percent of it, while England used 82 percent having produced 73 percent.

“More importantly, net exports from Scotland are largely a function of its high proportion of wind power capacity so only when these are generating electricity Scotland exports.

“At such times the main impact on the rest of the British market is for gas-fuelled power stations and other flexible capacity to reduce generation.

“Without the more diverse continuing British electricity market to draw on, Scotland’s reliance on intermittent wind generation might become more challenging.

“In this regard, we note that the Scottish government proposes to make substantial use of carbon capture and storage which could be a low carbon route to maintaining flexible fossil fuel generation and also making use of North Sea related assets.

“It would appear to be in the interests of both an independent Scotland and the UK to continue cross border trade in electricity for the sake of security of supply and lower costs for consumers. “

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