Thursday, September 18, 2014

Renewable Energy at Risk If Scotland Votes for Independence from the UK

If Scotland votes to be independent from the UK on September 18 it may kill renewable energy projects and put thousands of jobs at risk. A yes vote would create an uncertain environment for Scotland's renewable energy industry and future development.

According to a Bloomberg article, a vote for independence in Scotland may jeopardize 14 billion pounds ($23 billion) worth of renewable energy projects. Also at risk are 12,000 jobs.

A yes vote on independence would end subsidies to renewable energy providers in Scotland as the newly formed nation would be forced to negotiate the details of electricity payment. Under a nationwide program known as the Renewables Obligation, the newly independent nation of Scotland would no longer be eligible for UK subsidies. In 2013, renewable energy projects in Scotland got about 560 million pounds of support from the UK's Renewables Obligation representing approximately about 28 percent of the total U.K. funding. Scotland itself accounts for about 10 percent of electricity sales in the U.K.

Scotland exports as much as 25 percent of its electricity and has about 43 percent of the U.K.’s wind power capacity. A yes vote would also introduce uncertainty for investors in renewable energy in Scotland. An additional 13 gigawatts of power projects are currently on the drawing board in Scotland, representing about 15 percent of total U.K. capacity.

Of the 34 billion pounds of investment planned in large-scale renewable power projects from January 2012 to February 2014, about 14 billion of that was to be sited in Scotland.

Renewable energy supplies almost half of Scotland’s electricity, and that number is expected to reach 100 percent by 2020. As of the end of 2013, about 34 percent of the U.K.’s renewable electricity capacity was located in Scotland.

If Scotland votes to succeed, the UK may then introduce a tax which would increase costs. A "yes" to independence could prove harmful to the nation's renewable energy ambitions.

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