HE UK Government has been accused of “pulling the rug from under” Scotland’s renewable energy sector, as Greens MSP Mark Ruskell has told Express.co.uk
of the “uneasy” relationship Scotland has with Westminster.
The question of Scotland’s energy promises to be a key issue for Scottish independence. Scotland has emerged in recent years as a world leader in producing green energy with investment in renewables helping the nation achieve its net zero goals. Earlier this year it was revealed Scotland had come tantalisingly close in 2020 to generating 100 percent of its electricity demand through renewable sources – and Mr Ruskell believes Scotland’s future is equally bright and green
Off the back of Scotland’s successes, the SNP and Greens have announced a historic partnership to “cement the pro-independence majority in Holyrood”.
Although the deal is yet to be voted on by both parties, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon believes it will lead to a “greener, fairer independent Scotland”.
Should Scotland succeed in its independence bid, England would no longer have a say over Scotland’s renewable energy sector and Mr Ruskell believes there is presently a strong case for a more devolved energy policy in Scotland.
He said: “It would be very advantageous if this Parliament in Edinburgh had full powers over energy and regulation of markets as well.
We don’t have that, so there’s an uneasy relationship with the Westminster Government.
“There’s a lot of concern with the off-shore wind industry in Scotland about the removal of the Renewables Obligation certificate.”
The Renewables Obligation (RO) was the UK’s leading schemes aiding large-scale renewable energy projects.
The RO was implemented in 2002 in England, Wales and Scotland, and was followed three years later by Northern Ireland, replacing the Non-Fossil Fuel Obligation of 1990.
The scheme placed an obligation on electricity suppliers in the UK to draw an increasing amount of power from renewable sources.
The Renewables Obligation (RO) closed to all new generating capacity in 2017 and was replacede by the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme.
According to Mr Ruskell this had a devastating impact on Scotland.
He said: “At the time, that led to a collapse in many projects in Scotland.
“Projects that were in the right place, that had gone through the right planning system, but suddenly the rug got pulled out from under that industry.
“And as a result growth in off-shore wind has stagnated in the last few years, so there are some advantages in having some energy policy brought fully to the Scottish Parliament.”
But even with the setbacks, Scotland has managed to make leaps and bounds towards reaching its green targets.
Energy statistics published in March this year for the fourth quarter of 2020, show 97.4 percent of Scotland’s gross electricity consumption came from renewable sources.