How independence can unleash Scotland’s future energy industries

There’s been a massive focus on oil, but here’s an absolutely vital missing element to the whole independence discussion around energy. This from Professor Stuart Haszeldine of Edinburgh University is about two kinds of power, one political, one natural.

It includes astonishing revelations about how we have three times the energy we need from renewable sources alone. How we can transfer energy from fossil fuels to renewable fuels and clean up in the process, but that we can only do this with independence.

This is about a low carbon, secure energy and resilient future. Please share this contribution to the debate.

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  1. cirsium says:

    Wow. Just wow.

  2. Cando. says:

    Every Scot should learn about this, in schools, universities, it’s breathtaking!
    How inspiring for the start of a new Scotland, & a reminder of the brilliance of
    Scottish minds. It’s in our genes!

  3. Cando says:


  4. jdmanj says:

    Why might one ask if there is that amount of benifit to be had do the westminster cabel not want to take advantage of it?
    could it be that it would become obvious to a 1 year old child if Scotland were producing such vast wealth that we would clearly not need the dead hand of London on our throath chocking us to death whilst helping themselves to our money,
    so perversly the look at the ceiling and whistle while we are denied our birthright,
    basically if we cant have it you sure as hell are not going to get either,
    If we dont get a move on and restart the Kingcardine CC project someone else will perfect it and we’ll have lost out to America or China, the turning off if the grant funding by westminster will go down in history as the most despicable act by a country against the best interests of it (own ) people for gain to be had by another part of the UK .

    1. Illy says:

      It’s the same concept as Labout Councils keeping their areas full of desperate people.

      Their logic: Only desperate people vote Labour, so we can’t let them not be desperate if we want to hold onto power.

      What happened to people who just wanted to make the world a better place?

      1. sandra says:

        so true

  5. rowantree633 says:

    Reblogged this on A Yes Voter in Nairn.

  6. Fantastic. This is so important.

  7. MM says:

    Left unmentioned is the fact that developing renewable and unconventional sources of energy, beyond the simplest hydropower dams (which Scotland has already more-or-less tapped out) requires a huge amount of investment and subsidies. Where, pray, is a small nation going to find the resources for these subsidies and investments? At this time, renewable energy investments in Scotland are being subsidized by households throughout the UK through higher energy bills, because it helps us, as a nation, meet our green energy commitments, and because it might allow British industry to become world leaders in wind and tidal energy generation. Once we separate, do you think English and Welsh households will still want to subsidize these projects in a foreign country?

    In the early days of referendum campaigning, the Yes camp often spoke of Scotland’s potential to become a “Green” superpower. That point has completely disappeared from the campaign in the last couple of months. Do you think this was by accident or as a result of oversight, or is it more likely that the Yes camp realized this argument was untenable, because of the reason outlined above?

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      You ask: “Where, pray, is a small nation going to find the resources for these subsidies and investments?”

      Do you think that nuclear owed is unsubsidised?!

      Anyway, to hand is a far better answer.

      Only month ago the world’s largest tidal energy project just took a big step forward as Atlantis Resources announced it had finalized an $83 million funding package for the project to break ground. When it is finished, the 398 MW MeyGen array of underwater turbines will provide clean, sustainable, predictable power for 175,000 homes in Scotland while reducing carbon emissions.

      The Scottosh Govt has supported the project to the tune of £17.2 million. This is the future.

      1. MM says:

        I am not arguing that nuclear power is unsubsidized; I am saying that Scotland by itself does not have the capacity to subsidize either nuclear or tidal energy, whatever level of subsidies they may each require.

        Case in point: you cite the MeyGen project. It has received £10M in direct cash infusion from the UK Govt in Feb 2013 ( ) and then another £10M in August 2013 ( , ).

        But the capital subsidies are actually dwarfed by the power price subsidies: MeyGen has also received a minimum price guarantee from the UK government of £305/MWh ( ). This compares with guarantees of £155/MWh for offshore wind, £95/MWh for onshore wind, £95/MWh for the latest nuclear plant sanctioned by the UK Govt., and prices of £40-50MWh currently prevalent in the wholesale energy market. This subsidy (of about 5 times the current market price for energy) is paid by households throughout the UK through their bills and green levies.


        1. Do you think English and Welsh households will want to pay this subsidy once Scotland separates?

        2. Do you think Scotland by itself, with its population of 5M, can support a project of this scale? By my calculation, if only Scottish households were paying for MeyGen, it would double the energy bills of each and every one of you to pay the £305/MWh guaranteed price.

      2. MM2 says:

        MeyGen’s contract first of all is only for 15 years, for the premium pricing. EDF’s deal for Hinkley C is 35 years. Second of all, yes MeyGen received £10 million in direct cash. EDF get £10 BILLION in loan guarantees. Yes this is not a grant, but given the history of nuclear power it has a very good chance of turning into a grant an order of magnitude higher.

        We all know that nuclear power through is a new, innovative, technology which requires much more support than the established tidal stream technology. (Please readers, understand the sarcasm here).

        It’s interesting to read in the Dreud report that since Hinkley Point C was put on the cards we can expect Scotland’s household prices to be in a better state with independence irrespective of renewables investment. Scotland can afford to pay for them.

        “1. Do you think English and Welsh households will want to pay this subsidy once Scotland separates?” – No but they will continue to pay for the existing subsidy for onshore wind already in place. Otherwise the big six will bring out the lawyers and sue for illegal retrospective legislation depriving them of their assets. Simple. Subsidy that comes after will come from a Scottish consumer not subsidising heavily the nuclear industry.

        “2. Do you think Scotland by itself, with its population of 5M, can support a project of this scale? By my calculation, if only Scottish households were paying for MeyGen, it would double the energy bills of each and every one of you to pay the £305/MWh guaranteed price.”
        You should probably do your calculations again. Properly.

    2. Wulbert says:

      I would imagine that companies who wanted a stake in the profits from energy production would be willing to invest development cash. (same as they do now).

      1. MM says:

        If potential future profits were enough of an incentive, we would be seeing subsidy-free investment in these areas right now, would we not? I don’t see how the arithmetic changes in an independent Scotland in a way that will make it different from any other country today.

        It is probable that some of the competing renewables technologies will mature to the point where they will be price-competitive with fossil fuels in the medium-to-long term future. But getting from here to there will take a lot of heavily-subsidized research and investment. With properly-directed investment effort, it is possible that resources which the UK has plenty of (tidal, offshore wind) can scale up to a point where they can stand subsidy-free; at that point UK industry can presumably sell its expertise and reap the benefits. But without those subsidies, those technologies will fall behind, and the winners will be solar, geothermal etc. that the UK does not have much of.

        Scotland can play a big part in this development, but will need ample taxpayer and exchequer support. The British taxpayer will subsidize a British renewables industry; the English taxpayer will almost certainly balk at subsidizing the industry in an independent Scotland.

  8. Reblogged this on charlesobrien08 and commented:
    Please watch and share.

  9. lapogus says:

    MM is correct. The renewables industry is an not much more than a subsidy scam. We now have about 6GW of wind capacity in Scotland, but on average that only produces only 1.2GW of electricity, roughly the same as Torness or half of Longannet. And when we need the power (in winter cold spells) wind will produce nothing and actually draw from the grid. Often wind produces next to nothing – right now the total output from all metered GB wind farms is less than 620MW. GB grid demand is currently 38.2GW. So wind is supplying only 1.78% of UK demand – see . And today is not unusual, wind has been producing peanuts for the last week or so. See for Stuart Young’s report for the JMT for a more detailed analysis. I am a yes voter but the SNP’s (and Milliband’s and Cameron’s) renewables energy policy is delusional and dangerous. Blackouts are now only a winter or so away – see page 24 of this pdf for capacity generation / demand graph – . And tidal energy schemes are even more of (a very expensive) joke. Following a Yes vote Cameron and Westminster can screw Scotland very easily by not honouring the renewables subsidies which as MM says are currently spread across all UK consumers. If we want to keep the inefficient and expensive windfarms we will probably have to triple or quadruple our energy bills in Scotland.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      Oh god

  10. If I could source my household energy requirements from renewables I’d pay more to be released from the world’s dependence on oil which has shown to be a source of conflict and greed for power across the globe. I resent filling the coffers of corporations that can lobby governments and persuade policy. Investment, foresight and will to change make many things possible. If we have to put up with our climate we should get something out of it! I don’t accept for one minute that creating renewable energy capability in every nation is not an option.
    Our world is full of answers. We just have to ask the right questions and be prepared to listen and act. And not to be bullied into fallback position because bullies, under their own pressure and duress, threaten to take their business elsewhere. I hate bullies.

    1. willie ross says:

      So if you could plug your home into the MayGen power project as mentioned above, you would quite happily pay 6 times the going rate for electricity? Or perhaps the thousands of wind turbines which blight our landscapes, where you would ‘only’ pay double the going rate? But then, you would only get power when the wind was blowing at the correct speed.
      As for oil being a source of ‘greed’? Greed is what wind turbines are all about. Greed from the (mostly foreign) operators, and greed from the landowners who host turbines on their land.
      Wind turbines do NOT run on wind, they run on subsidies.

      1. So, are you saying that we, as individual consumers and as a nation, do not already subsidise energy development, production and supply? Or that producers operate at a loss?
        Are you saying that you cannot foresee developments that will allow for more cost-effective renewable energy, using hybrid until developments catch up with the will?
        Are you saying that you would rather continue to be dependent on energy sources that damage the long-term health of the planet while we as consumers are held to ransom on price and supply?
        Are you saying that visual appearance is more important to you than having a future where generations to come will thank the foresight their predecessors had to embark on projects that protected the only planet we can call home?
        Are you saying that we do not have the capacity to negotiate with ‘foreigners’ to work on deals that benefit ourselves as well as business?
        Are you saying that land ownership needs to be renegotiated or that land owners should not profit from hosting turbines?
        Are you, in effect, saying that you cannot see the bigger picture, that we have no intelligence, no vision, no will, no common sense, no right to regulate our future?
        I’m not entirely sure what you are saying. I know that I see a future where willing minds open to possibility with the political clout to do so may transform the way we see ourselves and our place as fellow human beings in a world that I do not wish to see made more finite at our own hands.

  11. AdamH says:

    Someone thinks that solar in Scotland can work!! and wants to put money into it.

  12. malc says:

    Interesting that he says *WE invented underground coal gasification in the North East of England” – we British yes! Not we Scots. It’s easy to forget just how isolated a small country can get and how hard to get investment without government funding or government backed loans that pay for the future of the industry. Scotland’s economy is massively smaller than the UK economy.

  13. Crubag says:

    From what I’ve heard there have been discussions to keep current, agreed subsidies in the event of a Yes vote – no-one wants to startle the markets. What happens for future contracts is another matter, as no state can guarantee that another state will pay the subsidy. Denmark for instance sells its subsidised wind energy on the open, spot market, sometimes at a loss, as foreign energy providers are not obilged to take it.

    I think renwables do have a future, especially with a switch to a hydrogen economy (so improved storage). At the moment it is about individual states pump-priming the various technologies in the hope they will repeat the Danish experience (exporting the tech and skills is where the money is) – so quite competitive at state level and they all want to have the winners.

    Promoters of the technologies will however tend to use “power” rather than “electricity”, or talk about “number of households” rather than MWs to give an impression the contribution is greater than it actually is. Electricity is only the third largest energy use, behind heating and transport, both still largely hydrocarbon.

  14. Onwards says:

    Just like oil drilling, technology will constantly improve, and offshore wind and wave turbines will become cheaper and more efficient.

    By the time oil eventually runs out, we could have huge offshore wind and wave farms producing huge amounts of electricity and hydrogen – the ‘new oil’

    Major progress is being made on the ability to extract hydrogen from water, which would enable surplus electricity to be stored as a clean, green fuel.

    A Scottish government could invest in these fields with a Scottish energy company.
    Norway became extremely wealthy by keeping it’s natural resources in the hands of the people.

  15. lapogus says:

    The investment in or rather subsidisation of renewables is all fine and well in theory if we can afford it. The problem is that we (and I mean the UK and Scotland) can’t. The UK has £1.5 trillion national debt, and closer to £5 trillion if you count pensions. So far the UK has spend around £45 billion on renewables, which produce very little power when we need it. Future efficiency will not increase, the problem is their low energy density, period. The Climate change Act is costing the UK economy £8.5 billion pa, and will do absolutely nothing to reduce global temperatures in 2080 or whenever. In practice, without reliable dispatchable load from coal, gas and nuclear plants, the national grid will become unstable, and brownouts and blackouts will become the norm. Blackouts will likely be very nasty in the cities at least, when the shops and petrol pumps are all closed, people get hungry and there is no TV to be distracted by. As I said, look at the capacity generation / demand graph on page 24: and stock up on candles and generators, and sooner rather than later. This is the SNP achilles heel – their economic policy appears to be built on renewables and not much else. I blame the scientifically ill-literate greens for this, in Edinburgh, London and Brussels. The observational evidence suggests that anthropogenic emissions of CO2 appear to have a negligible effect on global temperatures (no statistically significant increase for 17 years now, and a climate sensitivity of 1.3C per doubling at the most) and renewables and carbon trading are expensive scams. CCS has never worked on any commercial scale, and even if it can be achieved, it will use at least 50 ot 60% more coal to generate the same amount of electricity. This is engineering and economic madness, and it will cost us, and the developing world dear. Lomberg hits the nail on the head with this recent quote:

    “We live in a world where one in six deaths are caused by easily curable infectious diseases; one in eight deaths stem from air pollution, mostly from cooking indoors with dung and twigs; and billions of people live in abject poverty, with no electricity and little food. We ought never to have entertained the notion that the world’s greatest challenge could be to reduce temperature rises in our generation by a fraction of a degree.”


    I sincerely hope the decision-makers in the new Scotland take some advice from engineers who at least appreciate the difference between a GW and a MW, and know what grid balancing means.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      Oh god. A climate denialist. Immoral irrelevant and illogical.

  16. lapogus says:

    Bella, I fear I am going to have to persist with this, and hope that you put your misconceptions to one side and hear me out.

    I have not denied anything or any aspect of climate change. Just that the magnitude of CO2’s contribution to the greenhouse effect (or its climate sensitivity) is clearly not as large as was feared and suggested by the IPCC climate models:
    source page:

    and that the current ‘warm period’ is nothing unusual, unprecedented or to be worried about, when it has clearly been warmer in the recent and more distant past, before we discovered coal or invented 4x4s:

    GISP2 Greenland ice core proxy graph Holocene (last 10,000 years) with 20th century instrumental data appended –

    Note the Holocene Optima 7000-8000 years ago, and that temperatures were also higher than today in the Neolithic, Roman and Medieval Period. The late 20th Century ‘warm’ period, is likely just a continuation of the long slow thaw from the Little Ice Age (which incidentally in the 1690s decimated the population of Scotland as a result of famine from failed harvests) – see

    Vostok (Antarctica) ice core proxy graph, (last 420,000 years)

    From the Vostok data, it is clear that this interglacial has already lasted longer than the previous four. Enjoy the Holocene while it lasts!

    Back to your reply, I fail to see where my argument or stance is immoral, indeed by quoting Lomberg and the increased mortality rates in the third world which are much higher as a direct result of the rich world wasting billions pursuing expensive ‘climate friendly’ energy policies, I would say the converse.

    Irrelevant and illogical? Hmm, not sure of your reasoning there either. The climate debate (and I can assure you that the science is far from settled) is central to formulating a rational energy policy. It is just a shame that climate science has been corrupted and politicised to such an extent that anyone who questions the orthodoxy is now labelled a denier, or subjected to adhom. The left badly needs to raise its game on the climate issue, as it is the poor who suffer most when energy prices are higher than they need to be.

  17. Mike Post says:

    It seems to me that Lapogus is a realist and Belladonna is a fantasist. God save
    Scotland from foolishness!

  18. Nial says:

    In the event of independence the rUK has no obligation to buy expensive renewable electricty from Scotland. We only provide 4% of the required total, they are already importing more than this from France and the Dutch.
    There is also no obligation to load balance wind excess. If wind’s providing too much they will simply disconnect Scotland and let us deal with it (with our relatively tiny grid). From an engineering perspective it’s a very frightening prospect.

  19. Kay Macfarlane says:

    The Scottish Goverent must develop the renewable energy proposals. If they have specific proposals in their manifesto then they take the rug from under Westminster. Can I suggest that local communities set up energy groups who develop renewable energy strategies for their community. This would help develop clean owner to the local community and reduce the cost to the local people for energy and reduce the powers of the power compAnies.

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