Thursday, 25 March 2010


A Press Association article recently with my comments.

Mar 20, 2010 2:55:49 PM
By Lucy Collins, Press Association Scotland

The growth of Scotland's potential "green gold rush" is impeded by poor infrastructure which prevents renewable energy from reaching lucrative markets, the SNP spring conference heard today.

Party members lined up to highlight the country's potential to boost its economic fortunes and create jobs by harnessing the power of natural resources.

But they expressed frustration at a system which they say prevents them from meeting economic and climate change targets.

Angus MP Mike Weir said that transmission charges for delivering "green" energy could be up to three times higher in Scotland than in England.

He criticised the National Grid for "failing" to serve Scotland's remote communities where wind and wave power generate electricity.

Mr Weir, SNP industry spokesman at Westminster, said Scotland had the "best climate change legislation in the world".

He said the country has 25% of Europe's tidal resource, 25% of its offshore wind resource and 10% of its wave potential.

Mr Weir said: "All of this renewable potential is essential to drive these targets but we need to get it to market and that is the problem.

"We have in Scotland all this potential but most of it is in areas that are not currently served by a strong grid connection.

"We need to get these grid connections improved but we need to deal with the issue of transmission charges.

"At the moment we have the absolutely ludicrous system where a renewable generator in the north of Scotland will pay something like GBP21 per kilowatt hour to connect into the grid, to get their energy to market, provided they can get a connection at all.

"Whereas if you build generating capacity in the south of England you get a subsidy of GBP6 per kilowatt hour to do that.

"That is a completely ludicrous system and it works against the renewables industry in Scotland."

He complained that he has spent years meeting with Ofgem, the regulator of the gas and electricity market, "banging my head against a brick wall trying to get them to see the injustice of the system".

Highlands and Islands MSP Rob Gibson said that British energy policy was the "biggest stumbling block" for Scotland.

He expressed concerns that a UK-wide focus on the nuclear industry, after the general election, would "extract" workers from the renewables sector.

Mr Gibson said if the SNP controlled the Crown Estate in Scotland, which "rents" space on the seabed to renewables firms, "we would not be bleeding the people who are building the new energy revolution".

He said, to applause: "Taking a grip of the Crown Estate in Scotland ought to be something this party looks very seriously at, especially since more and more countries in Europe give people at a local level the ability to get community benefit from this fantastic new source of endless power."

SNP activist Alex Orr, from Edinburgh, said: "From being a world leader in oil and gas we now have the natural resources and expertise to be the green energy powerhouse of Europe.

"Our nation is indeed a winner in nature's national lottery, putting us at the forefront of the green gold rush."


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