Energy market reform risks security of supply

The Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing has attacked the UK Government’s energy market reform plans in a letter to his UK counterpart Ed Davey. He claims the plans represent, “a huge risk to security of supply”.

His key concerns include:

  1. Damaging investor confidence in Scotland’s low-carbon ambitions
  2. Renewables sacrificed in favour of “discredited, expensive and imported” nuclear technology.
  3. Thermal generation in Scotland “vital to maintaining grid stability here”, placed at risk through a failure to take Scottish issues properly into account.
  4. Ignoring the vital and combined contribution of Scotland’s renewable and thermal generation to keeping the lights on across the UK.
  5. Further price rises on energy bills.
  6. Closing the renewables obligation in Scotland

He said: “Unless serious and considered steps are taken to address these matters, and which supports investment in thermal generation across the whole of the UK, then the threat of blackouts will crystallise rapidly. We now know that the UK Government has also proposed a last-ditch amendment to the Energy Bill, which will allow UK ministers to close the Renewables Obligation in Scotland. I find it extraordinary that the UK Government has chosen to act in this way, and to strip Scottish Ministers and the Scottish Parliament of their powers and discretion in an area of such vital importance.”

There is a welcome, if rare, acknowledgement in his letter of the importance of thermal generation. While some of the other concerns are valid, it does bring into question why Fergus Ewing is so keen to stay in the UK energy system post-independence. If the UK is ignoring Scotland’s energy needs now, why does he believe they will do better if we become a foreign country?

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