Scotland’s Efforts towards Renewables Transitions Hampered by Political Uncertainty

Credit: Creative Commons/Adam Ward

Credit: Creative Commons/Adam Ward

The renewable energy sector has always flourished in Scotland as compared to any other part of the UK. In 2014, Scotland generated 34% of its electricity requirement from renewable energy, highest in any part of UK. The unique geography of Scotland and availability of natural resources   has helped different renewable technologies to succeed here as compared to other parts of the UK. As per the official UK government reports of the year 2014, it has less solar electricity generators but it constitutes over 40% of all wind capacity and over 85% of hydro capacity of the entire UK, whereas Scotland accounts for only 8% of UK’s population; shows how renewable power generation here is very thriving industry.

As per the present estimate, there is a workforce of 21,000 people engaged in this green energy sector producing almost 30% of the UK’s renewable electricity generation. But with the UK government announcing heavy cuts in the various subsidies being offered to the renewable energy sector the Scotland’s prosperous renewable energy industry’s future could be very bleak. Environmentalists in Scotland were furious when the UK government announced an end to subsidies for onshore wind farms last year. As per the report published by Scottish Affairs Committee, the renewable energy sector could be severely hit by policy changes of the UK government, in turn, may lead to unemployment.

Committee chairman Pete Wishart said, “We have urged the government to clarify the future ­support which will be available to the renewable sector, and set out how they will work with the Scottish Government to develop a clear, long-term plan that will allow renewable energy to remain a central part of the energy mix. As this has also weakened investor confidence in the renewable sector, affecting growth and put at risk opportunities for future growth.” The important fact impartially pointed out in this report is, it takes the note of “serious concerns” Scottish residents express about the impact of onshore wind­turbines on the environment. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) of the United Kingdom is also agitating against mushrooming wind farms in Scotland!

These policy amendments have been effected in all three viz. – Renewables Obligation (RO), Feed-in-tariffs (FiT) and Contract for Difference (CfD) auctions. Especially the complete removal of subsidy for onshore wind in particular, (one of the cheapest renewable sources), without any consultation with the industry or Scottish Government is troubling the economists and industry experts there.

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