Doubt cast over national renewable energy policy

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A Borders conservation group is calling for a top level inquiry into the impact of the Scottish Government’s renewable energy policy on the country’s electricity supply.

Prompted by the revelation that Scotland imported electricity from England and Europe on 162 days over the past three years, the Borders Network of Conservation Groups (BNCG) quotes views of one expert that “the expansion of Scotland’s renewables energy sector is accelerating so fast that, by 2020, it will be generating a huge surplus of heavily subsidised renewable electricity (RE) that it cannot use, sell or store”.

The BNCG now want the government’s energy, environment & tourism committee to conduct a top level inquiry into the impact of the government’s renewables policy on the security, sufficiency, cost and efficacy of electricity supply in Scotland.

John Williams, BNCG chairman, said: “The time is right for a full-scale investigation following fears that Longannet power station, Scotland’s cheapest and most flexible source of power, could close early compounding the country’s rapidly developing energy crisis.

‘The Scottish Government’s 2020 target of ‘generating 100% of Scotland’s electricity from renewables’ was exceeded last autumn – five years early.

“A paper published last week by Professor Jack Ponton of the Lauderdale Preservation Group highlights the consequences of this for Scotland’s energy supply in 2020.

“We believe that the whole basis of a stable, well planned and diversified electricity supply is being deliberately abandoned without any regard for the consequences of frequent shortages and massive surpluses on electricity consumers and the tax payer.’

In his paper, Professor Ponton FREng said: “The rapidly developing crisis in Scotland’s electricity supply, created by the policies of successive UK governments but exacerbated greatly by the present Scottish Government is, ironically, a double crisis.

“At times there will be a shortage of supply which could lead to power cuts. At others, there will be an excess of production which cannot be used but will have to be paid for by consumers or taxpayers.

“This crisis has been widely predicted. It is entirely a consequence of reducing Scotland’s ability to balance electricity demand by rapidly increasing the variable supply from wind generated power.

“Wind power is intermittent, it is not secure, and it cannot be stored in the quantities required.

“Guaranteed subsidies to wind generators make the wind energy sector a logical investment for energy companies, while the preference given to wind power on the grid reduces the profitability of conventional generation.

“Indeed, no conventional, dependable generation is being built and Scotland’s largest dependable generator, Longannet, is likely to close due to lack of profitability.

“How long will it be before the Scottish Government finally acknowledges the truth: that the blind dash for wind is pointless, it will be hugely expensive, and that degrading even more of Scotland’s landscapes will be futile?”