Archive for April 2011
SNP claims industry support for its 100% renewables by 2020 plan
The SNP has claimed industry support for its ambition to meet all of Scotland’s electricity demand from renewable sources. Seven companies signed an open letter backing the 100% goal by 2020, which was set out in the party’s manifesto for the May 5 Holyrood election. It follows concerns by some in the business community that the timescale of nine years is unrealistic and cannot be met. The letter of support was signed by executives at firms including Scottish Power Renewables, Burntisland Fabrications, Aquamarine Power and Pelamis Wave Power.
It stated: “It is vital that we maintain momentum on our renewables industry and continue to send out a clear message to act as a magnet for the capital investment needed to realise the vision.”
The letter said the target is a “vital step” to shift Scotland to a low-carbon economy.
SNP leader Alex Salmond, who was campaigning at the Nigg Yard in Easter Ross, welcomed the support and said: “Our 100% target will help us achieve our goal of having 130,000 jobs in the renewable and low-carbon energy sector by 2020. And those jobs in turn will help us to re-industrialise Scotland. With ambition and investment on this scale, it is the power of Scotland that will lead the global green energy revolution.”
The target was questioned by Peter Hughes, chief executive of Scottish Engineering, which represents about 400 manufacturing companies. He said: “As a long-term ambition, it’s fantastic. We all want to be friends of the earth – no one will argue with that. It’s the level of realism we’re talking about here. We don’t have a hope in hell of getting to the 100% in nine years.”
First Minister Defends Wind Farms On ‘Call Kay’
Alex Salmond was questioned on windfarms on BBC Scotland’s ‘Call Kay’ this morning. The caller asked him why ‘he insists on industrialising our beautiful countryside with windfarms.’
Mr. Salmond explained that we currently have 5GW of onshore wind capacity in Scotland and that this is planned to expand to 7GW in the next ten years. He pointed out that in fact only 0.05% of the land area of Scotland was ‘covered’ in wind turbines, less than the area covered in pig farms. He illustrated this by pointing out that en-route to Nigg yesterday by helicopter across a huge swathe of Scotland he only saw two windfarms.
He went on to say that the biggest expansion in wind over the next 10 years is offshore, where capacity will be going from virtually zero to 7GW. He went on to mention the two giant 5MW demonstrator turbines currently operating 20km offshore in the Beatrice oilfield in the Moray Firth, saying that from the shore they were tiny specks that you could barely see on a clear day. He claimed that there had been no objections at all to these.
Mr. Salmond emphasised that we had an ‘opportunity to re-engineer Scotland’ and that it was anticipated that the expansion of the wind industry would create 50,000 jobs, plus 10,000 from wave and tidal. We needed, he said, to ‘drive towards (renewables) full-scale as a country’
(this post consists of p10-11 of the Scottish Green Party’s 2011 Holyrood manifesto verbatim)
Secure, Safe and Sustainable Energy
Right across society, the recognition has grown that we need urgent action on climate change. People
increasingly see the opportunities as well as the challenges, but there is no room for delay – already Scotland has lost four years since the SNP’s original commitment to 3% annual emission cuts. And another great energy challenge is already upon us: peak oil, or the ending of the era of cheap and easy oil. Our supplies today come from ever harsher environments while demand for oil from emerging nations such as India and China increases sharply. Oil in the future will be both more expensive and in shorter supply. Economies which can break their dependence on oil and other fossil fuels will thrive.
One of the Scottish Greens’ major achievements during the 2007-2011 Parliament was in securing an expansion of home energy efficiency. We will seek to build on this success with a renewed programme with a budget of at least £100m per year to pay for a retrofit programme as part of the existing Energy Assistance Package. This scheme will be free, universal and will roll out on an area-by-area, street-by-street basis. For those in private rented housing we’ll introduce minimum energy standards to ensure tenants are not stuck in fuel poverty.
Embrace the energy challenge
Some of the major choices made by Scottish and UK Governments over recent years risk locking in high-carbon behaviour as well as oil dependence, and the urgent task facing a new Scottish Government will be to reverse this trend and build not only an energy system which can meet people’s needs, but a society and economy which doesn’t generate insatiable demand.
We’ll move beyond simply setting fixed percentage targets for renewable energy. Scotland’s renewables can more than meet our domestic electricity demand, and we can export clean energy to our neighbours. We believe this can be done by 2020, and thereafter we’ll continue to support increased renewable capacity for export, including through a commission to develop plans for a North Sea High Voltage Direct Current ‘supergrid’.
A lot can also be achieved by developing new ownership structures for renewable schemes, including offshore marine energy. At national level this means expanding the remit of Scottish Water to become a publicly-owned renewable energy company. We would also back Public Energy Companies at local authority level, and a range of social enterprises that would put control of energy generation into community hands.
The decentralised energy generation model will result in revenue to help meet social and environmental goals and local authorities can assist such schemes by producing heat maps for their area, and by setting targets for heat load to be delivered from renewables by 2020.
Grant schemes to provide incentives for the installation of micro-renewables will further boost this sector and such schemes could operate as part of the Energy Assistance Package, and be complemented by equity release schemes.
We oppose the proposed new coal-fired power station at Hunterston, and would use the planning system to prevent further nuclear and coal expansion. Existing nuclear power stations would be closed at or before the end of their normal working lives, and will require nuclear waste to be stored on site in secure, monitored and retrievable conditions. We will also work in partnership with management and unions to ensure employees in the industry can find opportunities in decommissioning work or be re-trained and redeployed, for example in renewables.
Carbon Capture and Storage technology remains unproven and, while research continues into its viability, the possibility of success must not be used as an excuse for new unabated coal generation. CCS must be shown to be a realistic, efficient long-term option before its deployment, and it will only offer overall emission reduction if used at existing fossil fuel plants.
We are committed to meeting Scotland’s emissions targets through domestic effort, without the use of carbon credits, and we’ll ensure public sector emission cuts are in line with the targets in the Climate Change Act. Existing annual targets are too weak, and we back 4.5% annual reductions.
We’d build on the success of the Climate Challenge Fund by continuing to support community projects, with additional tiers of support including a small grants scheme with minimal bureaucracy, and a ‘partnering’ system so successful projects can help build capacity in other communities. The fund would be expanded to £25m a year.
There is also a need to begin to develop a consumption based approach to calculating Scotland’s real contribution to climate change, taking proper account of the emissions associated with the goods and services this country imports. This is complex work and would take several years to complete. We’ll build on the limited carbon assessment of Scotland’s budget to enable transparent scrutiny of budget documents in relation to carbon costs. We will also conduct individual carbon assessments across public sector spending and policies.
Planning for transition
With the challenges of peak oil fast approaching there is a clear need for a national contingency plan. This would include a business transition service designed to gain competitive advantage in new markets, for example in durable goods, engage with the agriculture sector to move from oil-based production to organic, and create a network of community based work hubs to reduce overhead costs faced by small businesses.
We’ll also establish a Scottish Forum for a Just Transition, to ensure that the opportunities and costs of responding to climate change and peak oil are fairly shared across society. Voluntary organisations are often best placed to engage at community level about the public understanding of these issues, so we’d make a fund available for them to bid into to undertake this work.