A report from a distinguished energy expert suggests that spending on renewable energy rather than nuclear power would result in around twice as much low carbon electricity being generated in Scotland.
The report by Dr David Toke, reader in energy politics in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Aberdeen, argues that the cost of delivering the UK’s low carbon programme could be reduced substantially if the Scottish government was given powers to fund its own renewable energy programme. This could be done by giving the Scottish government control to spend money that would otherwise be added to Scottish electricity consumer bills to fund the Hinkley Point C (HPC) nuclear power plant (and any other new nuclear plant).
Dr Toke says UK electricity consumers will each have to spend around £16 a year extra for 35 years to pay for HPC. If Scottish consumers' money was spent on supporting renewable energy rather than paying for their share of Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant then, even on conservative calculations, nearly double the amount of electricity would be generated from wind power as from HPC.
As reported on numerous occasions by OWJ, the cost of onshore windfarms and offshore windfarms – even on current prices – need much less support from consumer surcharges to generate an equivalent amount of electricity compared to HPC. Wind power costs are falling rapidly, with some especially low prices being reported in Denmark and The Netherlands.
Under such a programme organised by the Scottish government the cheapest onshore windfarms could start generating in 2020 and offshore windfarms organised under a new, Danish-style framework, could be online in 2026. The Scottish government’s own preference for renewable energy over nuclear power lends support to the suggestion that the Scottish government should be able to use Scottish consumers' money to pay for new renewable energy rather than new nuclear power.
“Moreover,” said Dr Toke, “the best value for money for Scottish consumers in terms of generating non-fossil fuels is likely to come from the Scottish government having powers to fund its own renewable energy programme from Scottish consumer bills. This is because the Scottish government will be able to decide on what contract length to offer wind developers, for example, offering to pay guaranteed prices for 20 years rather than 15 years as done by the Westminster government now with renewable energy.
“Also, the Scottish government will be able to organise a much more effective offshore windfarm programme than is being done by Westminster… (where) methods are increasing the costs of offshore wind by leaving too much uncertainty to be dealt with by developers. The Scottish government could organise a much cheaper offshore wind programme on the lines done by the Danish Energy Agency. This is likely to lead to lower costs and less confrontation in the courts over planning issues than is the case with the current offshore windfarm programme.”