By Russell Leadbetter
Concerns have been voiced that Scotland’s energy network was not designed
MUCH is made of the changing energy landscape in the context of the urgent
battle against climate change. Despite the US President’s impulsive,
ill-founded scepticism, there seems little reason to doubt the veracity of
authoritative reports about the dangers posed by climate change. A UN
report warns that countries have not been taking the necessary action to
avert the worst consequences.
The Scottish Government has rightly been commended for its many
commitments, from reducing greenhouse gas emissions to supporting
decarbonisation in the public sector and urging us towards low-carbon
living and collective action. It was a big step forward, too, when
ScottishPower abandoned coal and gas generation in favour of wind power.
Smart meters continue to be rolled out, too.
It’s an encouraging picture, even if some politicians fret about a headlong
rush to clean energy. Now comes a startling warning, couched in
near-apocalyptic terms, from the Institution of Engineers & Shipbuilders in
Scotland. Our over-reliance on “unpredictable” green energy and the
shuttering of coal-fired power stations could lead to complete power
failure. An unstable electricity supply, if allowed to fester, could lead
to civil disobedience, severe disruption, and deaths. The loss of
fossil-fuel power stations means that restoring electricity after a
complete loss of power might take several days. The IESIS also asserts
that, in pursuit of reduced emissions, we do not have a robust plan on the
long-term security of supply and security of operation.
The dark warnings about deaths and civil disobedience will concentrate
minds wonderfully. It is as much as we can do to fervently hope that they
will never come about. In the meantime, the IESIS’s wider point might be
worthy of further thought – a national energy authority tasked with
safeguarding the long-term sustainability of our energy supply and avoiding
the increasing risk of blackouts. Better that than risking civil disobedience.