Scottish Ministers have criticise Westminster's energy policy

Scotland can 'help keep lights on' says report

Scottish ministers have accused Westminster of failing to guarantee the UK's future energy needs, warning of the "highest blackout risk in a generation".

The coalition government must prioritise security of supply as the gap between electricity supply and demand gets tighter, a report by the Scottish government says, citing an Ofgem warning that spare generating capacity could fall as low as 2 per cent in the future.

With its plentiful natural resources Scotland can "help keep the lights on and energy bills down" – now and following a yes vote for independence – according to the paper, but it criticised Westminster's “mixed messages” on renewable energy and said it needed firmer safeguards as a contributor to a “single GB-wide energy market”.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), due to publish the latest Scotland Analysis paper on Wednesday, said that Scotland benefits disproportionately from renewables investment and from the government's large consumer and tax base when it comes to supporting North Sea oil.

Scotland's Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “Having only 2 per cent reserve energy in the system is extraordinarily risky and could result in big bill price hikes. Today's substantial new paper from the Scottish government shows that Scotland can help the UK keep the lights on and the bills down.

“Scotland's huge natural resources mean that we can supply electricity – reliably and affordably. This is the case now, and will be the case in the event of independence.

“But the UK government's mixed messages on renewables and its delayed energy market reforms have led to confusion and uncertainty for the renewable industry, and led to a raft of investments being cancelled – as National Grid has pointed out.”

Today's report, UK Energy Policy and Scotland's Contribution to Security of Supply, said: "Scotland offers safe and secure supplies of electricity and gas and can assist the rest of the UK in meeting its renewable energy targets.

"The White Paper on independence makes clear that Scotland's energy aims can be fulfilled by the continuation of a single GB-wide energy market for electricity and gas, provided security of supply is not jeopardised.

"However, as a substantial supplier to the rest of the UK, an independent Scotland will require a far greater degree of oversight of the market arrangements for energy and firmer safeguards over Scottish energy security. The policies of the UK government have brought us to a point where the risk of blackouts is the highest for a generation.”

The DECC said the UK is ranked second in the world for energy security and analysis showed that if Scotland voted to exit "there would be only minimal impact on the continuing UK and no greater risk to our energy security".

Wednesday's paper will say that it is the stability of the UK economy that makes it an attractive place for energy companies to invest, with Scotland fast becoming one of the world's energy hubs.

On renewables it will say Scotland already benefits from a disproportionate amount of subsidies and on oil and gas it will state that an independent Scotland would have to invest around £3,800 per head to match the £20bn the government has committed towards decommissioning in the North Sea.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey said: "The UK's energy security is among the best in the world, backed by a large consumer and tax base that can afford to support our world-leading energy industries and make us such an attractive place to invest.

"The broad shoulders of the United Kingdom is unlocking the power of Scotland to take its place as one of the world's great energy hubs – generating energy and generating jobs."

Labour's shadow energy minister, Scottish MP Tom Greatrex, said: ''The Nationalist energy spokesman in Holyrood seems not to understand that tightening of capacity margins across all of the UK will not be solved through intermittent wind generation from here in Scotland.

"The margins tighten when the wind isn't blowing, and with an increasingly imbalanced energy mix in Scotland, that is more of a future risk for us than the rest of the UK if we walk away from the UK's single energy market.

''The SNP blithely assert that Scotland will leave the UK, but consumers from England, Wales and Northern Ireland will continue to subsidise renewables in Scotland because our power will be needed by the rest of the UK, without explaining why there would be a residual obligation from a foreign country to pay for our energy investment on their consumers bills.”

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