An energy policy critique: Scotland – Moving forward on renewables?

Dr Keith Baker and Dr Geoff Wood introduce the contents of seven years' worth of work from nine academics on Scotland's energy policy

THE title of this article is taken from the epilogue to our new book, A Critical Review of Scottish Renewable and Low Carbon Energy Policy, (available from Palgrave Macmillan and other online bookshops)

The book, which has been almost seven years in the making, brings together nine leading academics specialising in energy policy, who were invited to pull no punches in their analyses of Scottish policy, and to present their own more radical solutions.

Those seven years have seen us through two referendums, and we now have a brief period in which to learn from them and prepare for the political turmoil that will surely come.

Collectively, the chapters make a clear case for full devolution of the Electricity Act and all powers related to energy and infrastructure. 

The aim of the book is to inform that debate, and while the widespread failures of the Westminster government inevitably attract much of the stronger criticism, the contributors also point to examples of where the Scottish Government has failed completely of its own volition, or could have done more with the powers it already has. 

Of these, the provision of renewable heat and infrastructure, and political wishful thinking on carbon capture and storage (CCS), are raised as particular causes for concern. However, what emerges is strong and consistent evidence that is pro-renewables, pro- Europe, and (largely) pro-independence and anti-nuclear.

We, as editors, make no secret that we fall into all these camps, but also that we should be wary of seeing independence as a silver bullet to all our problems. Collectively, the chapters make a clear case for full devolution of the Electricity Act and all powers related to energy and infrastructure, and it is impossible to deny that the Scottish Government’s progress on large scale renewables has been impressive. 

And even on nuclear, where we present a contribution with an opposing view, no one is suggesting a revival of the type currently failing south of the border, and set to lock the UK into higher energy prices for decades to come.

Although we deliberately didn’t address the fossil fuel industry directly, it was naturally impossible not to comment on the role of oil revenues in the independence debate.

However, we argue, this is somewhat of a red herring given that the best scientific evidence points to the need to cease reliance on all fossil fuels, and particularly coal and oil, by 2025-2030. 

Planning the managed decline of the fossil fuel industry must be a central part of planning for a second referendum and retaining our membership of the European Union.

So even if we were to gain independence as early as 2019, a prospect that currently looks too optimistic, we would still only have a few years of trading in oil. This means that planning the managed decline of the fossil fuel industry must be a central part of planning for a second referendum and retaining our membership of the European Union. Consensus on the former may be slightly weaker, but you will struggle to find many scientists who aren’t pro-European.

What we hope to have shown is not only that harnessing the environmental, economic and social potential of renewable energy should be central to these goals, but also point to examples of where more radical thinking could really make Scotland one of the biggest little countries in the world.

Finally we’d like to thank all our contributors and the team at Palgrave Macmillan for sticking with this project and supporting us through some times when we thought it might never see the light of day. We hope the end result is something that, while deliberately provocative, will help move Scotland forward on renewable energy.

Dr Keith Baker is a researcher at the Built Environment Asset Management (BEAM) Centre, School of Engineering and the Built Environment, Glasgow Caledonian University

Dr Geoff Wood is a lecturer at the School of Law, University of Stirling, and a research associate at the Centre for Energy Petroleum and Mineral Law and Policy (CEPMLP), University of Dundee

Picture courtesy of Gavin White

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Peter Dow's picture

Peter Dow

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 23:05

I write to disagree with and to argue against the dangerous royalist nonsense written by Kevin McKenna in the Guardian.

OPPOSING "It’s time a royal bairn came to live in Scotland" by Kevin McKenna, in the Guardian.

The royals and the kingdom are killing Scotland's bairns - like when the kingdom's police gave a firearms certificate to the man who shot 16 bairns dead at the Dunblane Primary School Massacre in 1996.

Not to mention all the other bairns murdered or killed in accidents because the kingdom, the state and its head of state, the Queen, is too incompetent to keep our bairns safe.

Therefore if Scots put our own bairns' lives first then we must ban the royals from Scotland as a first step towards establishing a Scottish republic, electing a Scottish president, a head of state who would protect Scottish bairns.

Allowing the royals into Scotland is equivalent to signing the death warrant of many Scottish bairns who will die in accidents and disasters because of this incompetent kingdom, monarchy and royal family.

It is not worth sacrificing the lives of our innocent bairns simply to pander to the royal family that gets them killed.

Peter Dow's picture

Peter Dow

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 23:02

"It’s time a royal bairn came to live in Scotland" by Kevin McKenna

Peter Dow's picture

Peter Dow

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 22:56

"It would also let us know that the royals were standing shoulder to shoulder with her Scottish subjects at a time of austerity and increasing multi-deprivation." - Kevin McKenna
Em, whose governments do you think it is which are agreeing austerity fiscal frameworks and passing austerity budgets, Kevin?

Her Majesty's governments are imposing austerity on all the Scots whether we wish to be "subjects" or not.

PM May and FM Sturgeon are the Queen's Prime Minister of the UK and First Minister of Scotland, respectively.

It's the Queen governments who are imposing austerity. Austerity is the Queen's fault.

If we want to end austerity then the fastest way to do that would be to end the rule of Her Majesty's governments, by ending the kingdom and establishing nation-state republics in their place, starting with a Scottish republic.

Peter Dow's picture

Peter Dow

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 23:14

It's time to call out the "RoyalWeal" who think it is appropriate to feature arch royalist and enemy of the Common Weal Kevin McKenna in Common Space.

Who in the Scottish progressive, pro-independence movement thinks McKenna deserves to feature here? Is there a single Scottish republican who wants to see the face of this stupid Queen's lackey here in Common Space? I don't.

Peter Dow's picture

Peter Dow

Thu, 10/26/2017 - 23:11

Which rather proves McKenna a liar - he thinks the royal family, royal babies are the future of Scotland. He DOESN'T really think "CommonSpace is the future".

He's having Common Space on. He's taking the mickey.

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