Scottish Renewables - An Old Story With A New Twist
Given the news that we face a 12% increase in energy bills this autumn, to be followed by a further 20% increase in April 2022 (1), it may surprise some people to learn that Scotland is in fact self-sufficient in electricity and that the energy comes from renewable sources (2).
Scotland is also a net exporter of electricity, and in 2020 31.8TWh of renewable electricity was generated in Scotland. This is the equivalent of powering all households in Scotland for almost three and a half years (3)
Why then are we about to pay through the nose for something we already cheaply and cleanly produce?
The UK imposes a much higher surcharge on Scotland's energy as a condition of admitting it into the UK national grid (4). In effect, England is charging us for the privilege of supplying it with abundant electricity.
Not being allowed to enjoy the bounty of our own natural resources is not a new story for Scotland. However, in this case, it goes beyond even that. Scotland has a potentially huge part to play in achieving net zero in Europe but the potential is being wasted. Similar charges are not levied on European renewable energy projects - meaning it is cheaper to build wind farms there and sell the power to the UK through a growing number of interconnector cables, than build home-grown clean power plants.
As Scottish Renewables CEO Claire Mack, commented: “Scotland has 25% of Europe’s offshore wind resource and to effectively lock it out of the UK energy market because of an inability to see past regulations which were drawn up in the early 1990s, when the energy system was totally different, is enormously destructive.” (5)
While Scotland remains a hostage of Westminster, we can look forward to an artificially created future of fuel poverty and shared culpability for the climate crisis.