Green Energy Subsidy Cuts Threaten Scotland’s “100% Renewables” Target
Cuts to renewable energy subsidies could affect Scotland’s ambitions of generating 100% of its electricity using renewable energy, according to the Fergus Ewing, the Scottish Minister for Business, Energy and Tourism.
The energy minister stated that reductions in subsidies for renewable energy tech could potentially affect up to £14 billion of investment in Scotland that is currently being considered by energy providers and investors.
According to Mr Ewing, the £14 billion would go towards new renewable energy systems such as wind farms. “Much of that is now under threat because of what we can only describe as an all out onslaught on renewables by the UK government.”
Cuts to renewable energy subsidies have been announced and will take effect across the UK. The cuts are aimed at reducing government spending on green energy, with alternative technologies such as shale gas taking priority.
Scotland is one of the world’s largest renewable energy producers. As of 2015, about 50 per cent of Scotland’s total electricity is generated using renewable systems such as wind turbines and hydropower.
Ewing isn’t certain about the value of shale gas, stating “I have not made up my mind – I want to see the evidence.”
Shale gas has been promoted as an economically successful source of energy for the United Kingdom, largely due to the economic success of some shale gas projects in the United States.
American producers of shale gas have pointed to its benefits in reducing the level of dependence on foreign energy imports, as well as its reduction of domestic energy prices and creation of new energy sector jobs.
While shale gas has been successful in the United States, there are major differences in the location of proposed shale gas sites in Scotland and those that have been used successfully in the USA.
Ewing states that while shale gas has been used successfully in the US, “the places where it has been carried out are about as different from where the deposits of unconventional gas are perceived to be in Scotland as it is possible to be.”
Shale gas is one of several sources of energy viewed by David Cameron as potential boons to the UK. In 2014, the Prime Minister announced that his government would go “all out for shale”, with a programme aimed at providing rates for local councils.
Under the scheme, councils throughout the UK will be entitled to receive all of the rates generated from fracking sites. The growth of shale gas is viewed as a major job creation opportunity by the government.
For Scotland, however, shale gas is unlikely to be viewed as progress. Since January of this year, Scotland has had a moratorium on shale gas fracking that means it will be unlikely to benefit from the government’s commitment to shale gas.
In the meantime, Scottish government officials are actively campaigning to ensure that its renewable energy industry can continue to grow. The government is taking part in a campaign to encourage the UK to “change its course” on green energy.