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Independence Would Damage Scotland's Renewables Growth, Says Ed Davey

UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey has said that Scotland's renewable energy industry would be damaged if it were to become independent from the rest of Britain.

Speaking in Edinburgh yesterday, Davey said the future of Scottish renewables “is more secure with Scotland as part of the United Kingdom”.

The Scottish government plans to hold a referendum on independence in the autumn of 2014. Scotland has massive wind resources and is also home to the European Marine Energy Centre. Several international energy companies including Siemens and Gamesa have also recently located renewables’ bases there.

Davey said that as part of the UK power sector, the Scottish energy industry has “unhindered access to a market of over 23 million households and the integrated networks that deliver to them”, and Scottish renewables “benefit from the ability to spread investment costs across the whole of the UK consumer base”.

He said if Scotland became independent it would be “treated by the UK as just one of a number of countries it could buy renewables from”.

Davey said: “We are pursuing a number of interconnection projects with our European neighbours, including Norway and Ireland. For an independent Scotland, this would potentially represent serious competition. If the UK were to look beyond its borders for renewable energy, we would need to consider which sources provide the cheapest and most reliable options for our people.”

He said that “could be from Scotland, but it could also be from Ireland, from Norway or elsewhere.”

He stressed he was not saying that Scotland would “not be able to compete, but it will be much harder for a nation potentially having to spread the costs of investment in renewables across just two and a half million households to keep prices competitive”.

“The economic reality is that the Scottish energy industry would lose the benefit of the UK’s international clout when promoting Scottish products and industries and instead it would be in direct competition to the UK. These are the uncertainties that independence will bring.”

Copyright 2013 Bloomberg

Lead image: Scotland flag via Shutterstock

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