Fully Devolved Scotland Would Drive Energy Exports, Claims Think Tank

Is Greater Scottish Devolution A Potential Cash Cow For Alex Salmond?

Scotland could earn £2 billion a year exporting electricity if energy policy is fully devolved from Westminster, a think-tank has said.

Reform Scotland published a report highlighting the role the country could play in renewable energy.

The body, which wants to see the eventual end of nuclear power plants north of the border, said Scotland could become the biggest exporter of low-carbon electricity in Europe.

Graeme Blackett, a trustee with the think-tank, said: "We would support the aim of a substantial increase in energy exports with a target of around half of electricity generated in Scotland being exported because, even using conservative assumptions on prices, this would increase Scottish exports by £2 billion per annum, equivalent to around 17% of manufacturing exports to the rest of the UK.

"Given that some of the current fossil fuel and nuclear capacity will still be available in 2020, this is feasible if the 100% renewables target set by the Scottish Government is met."

To become Europe's leader, between 50% and 75% of electricity generation would have to be from low-carbon sources by 2030 so there is enough electricity to exceed Scottish demand.

While backing the Scottish Government's aim, Reform Scotland says ministers should go further and set longer-term targets. The organisation also calls for Westminster to devolve energy policy to Holyrood.

Responding to the report, Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: "We share Reform Scotland's view that Scotland could become the biggest exporter of low carbon electricity in Europe.

"We already produce 40% of the UK's renewable electricity and with the continued investment we are witnessing, Scotland's energy will continue to be used across the UK and Europe in all future constitutional circumstances, including independence."

But Labour's shadow energy minister Tom Greatrex said: "While Scotland has a plentiful supply of raw natural resources, we don't have the customer base to finance its full exploitation. That is why Scotland benefits immensely from being part of a UK-wide energy market because subsidies for renewables are applied to customers' bills across Britain."


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