A TWO year study led by researchers at Cardiff University concludes that devolution has played a significant role in the expansion of renewable energy in the UK.
And Scotland is leading the way in forging ahead with the development of wind, wave, solar and biomass energy technologies according to the findings of teams from Cardiff University, Queens University Belfast, Robert Gordon University, University of Aberdeen and Birmingham University.
The availability of larger, windy, but relatively less contested sites for on-shore wind in Scotland is seen as a major factor in the country’s leading position in the development of renewable energy as it has meant that more projects were approved by the Scottish Government rather than local authorities.
Other ingredients of the Scottish Government’s success in promoting renewable energy relative to other governments are: political commitment to large-scale renewable energy development is longest standing in Scotland; the centrality of energy issues to the Scottish National Party (SNP); consistency in presenting the expansion of renewable energy as a national economic agenda, rather than just an environmental or rural development agenda.
“We can point to a range of actions by the devolved governments – especially Scotland – that have shown significant support to renewable energy in the UK,” said Dr Richard Cowell, principle investigator.
“The Scottish Government has led in using its powers to give greater support to wave and tidal power technologies, while Northern Ireland has used their powers – greater than Scotland’s – to facilitate small-scale renewables and bio-fuel processes.
“Energy policy is executively devolved, which gives Scottish Ministers full control over major energy consents and planning – onshore and offshores. ”
Energy Minister for Scotland, Fergus Ewing, said: “We have astounding green energy potential and vast natural resources with about a quarter of Europe’s wind and tidal energy and 10% of its wave power.
“Windfarms and other forms of clean green energy create opportunities for communities across Scotland, enhance energy security and are already delivering jobs and investment, and the Scottish Government is determined to ensure communities all over Scotland reap the benefit from renewable energy.”