Drilling rig image via Berardo62/flickr. Creative Commons 2.0 license.
Three things you shouldn’t miss this week
- Chart: How Scotland’s energy compares with the rest of the UK’s
- Commentary: What Happens To Clean Energy Investments If Scotland Votes “Yes”? – Reviewing the BNEF study.
- Commentary: Going green is good for the economy (depending on your economic worldview) – How the UK economy could be larger, its households better off, unemployment lower and its businesses richer if it chooses to cut emissions.
So it’s a no. Months of debate are finally over. But what’s the future for Scottish energy?
It was a dominant theme throughout the referendum, but debate was largely focused on whether or not Scots could wangle a so-called ‘fair share’ of North Sea oil and gas. Where were renewables in visions of a post-2014 future?
North Sea reserves are in terminal decline, but in the European league of windiness Scotland is in gold medal position. With just 8% of the total UK population, Scotland already contributes 32% of the union’s renewable energy. Its dwindling subsea reserves pale in comparison.
Focusing on how big or small Scotland’s fossil reserves are is like debating how good Wayne Rooney is at badminton. Scotland should focus on the energy of the future, which also happens to be its greatest strength.
In the weeks leading up to the vote many big energy companies came out strongly against independence, highlighting concerns about the investment landscape in a breakaway Scotland. Bloomberg New Energy Finance drew similar conclusions in a report last week on renewable energy investment.
But uncertainty around renewables wasn’t just down to the referendum – UK energy policy has had a huge impact. According to a report from consultants EY, “mixed signals, dwindling budgets and political apathy” have reduced the attractiveness of the UK clean energy sector to its lowest level in five years. It is vital that the political classes on both sides of the border recommit to a clean energy future right away.
The political battle for Scotland may be over, but the issues it has raised – including those around energy security – are far from resolved. Despite differing claims and counter claims over potential oil revenue, Scotland and the rest of the UK are faced with the same hard facts: North Sea oil is in terminal decline and reliance on fossil fuels is anyway incompatible with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change.
Related Reports and Commentary
REthinking Energy: Towards a new power system – International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)
Better Growth Better Climate – The New Climate Economy
Exxon: Is business as normal the right strategy? – Carbon Tracker
For A Few Trillion Barrels More – Euan Mearns, Energy Matters
The Economics of Climate Change Policy in the UK – Cambridge Econometrics