What difference has devolution made to renewables?

‘Promoting Renewable Energy in the UK- What Difference has Devolution Made?’ presents the initial findings of a two-year research project to assess the effects of devolution within the UK on the delivery of renewable energy: wind, solar, biomass, hydro, wave and tidal power.

The report identifies a number of areas in which the Scottish Government has used devolved powers to support the delivery of renewable energy including:

  • Using powers to differentiate ROC levels to give greater support to wave and tidal power, while Northern Ireland has used this to facilitate small-scale renewables and anaerobic digestion;
  • Devoted much greater resources relative to its population on direct funding of facilities and research and demonstration for offshore wind and wave and tidal stream energy technologies than is being done in the rest of the UK.
  • Control over major energy generation and grid consents is widely seen as advantageous as a means of exercising closer control over delivery, but its decision not to follow Westminster in creating new consent procedures may have had some short-term advantages.

Scottish Governments since 1999 have devoted significant effort to promoting renewables. The report identifies the importance of energy issues to the Scottish National Party and its independence agenda, but also cross-party support, the galvanising of a wider but still compact policy network including major energy businesses, and a persistent framing of renewable energy as a national economic agenda.

The evidence of their research suggests that the devolved governments have not significantly challenged UK energy policy with the exception of Scottish opposition to new nuclear. Both Scottish and Welsh Governments are broadly comfortable with an energy development pathway that consists of large developments, international investment and conventional generation technologies. In essence they argue there is no fundamental policy disagreement.

Well worth a read.

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