Over the past decade, Scotland has led the way in the development of low carbon, renewable energy generation. Later this year, the Scottish Government will consult on whether the development of a Scottish Energy Company could add value to drive such developments further forward. The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) Scotland Forum plans to engage in that process and in a recent call for evidence from the Scottish Parliament’s Economy Committee. (1) NFLA plans to also analyse an EY report for the Scottish Government on the benefits and risks of a Scottish Energy Company. (2)
As part of its consideration of the benefits of a Scottish-wide Energy Company, the NFLA invited Dr David Toke, Senior Lecturer in Energy Policy at Aberdeen University, to speak to its Scotland Forum on this matter. Dr Toke has also provided the NFLA with a thought-provoking report of how a Scottish Energy Company could enhance further its renewable energy ambitions. This is on the NFLA website in order to promote more debate on this issue. (3)
Amongst the conclusions of Dr Toke’s analysis are:
- The Scottish Government’s commitment to start an energy company could re-energise renewable energy in Scotland and deliver electricity at competitive prices for the consumer.
- A Scottish Energy Company could potentially out-sell rival competitors by giving long term power purchase agreements to new renewable energy schemes.
- The Energy Company initiative could be backed by activities of the Scottish National Investment Bank to offer loans to new renewable energy projects.
- There are a number of potential renewable energy projects that can be implemented for prices at or below recent levels in wholesale power prices that such an initiative could support.
The consideration of a Scottish Energy Company was announced by the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in October 2017. It commissioned a report by EY that notes both benefits and risks to developing such an entity. It plans to consult on its next move forward in this area later this year, but the Scottish Parliament’s Economy Committee is seeking early views for which the NFLA will seek to provide.
In England, Nottingham and Bristol Councils have developed comprehensive Energy Companies, and many Scottish Councils, such as Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow are considering a variety of different energy models to help them to develop their own low carbon projects and ambitions.
The NFLA thank Dr Toke for his comprehensive report which will very much assist the NFLA in developing its own views. NFLA advocates decentralised energy as an important component within an enlightened low carbon energy policy. This could help to deliver a wide renewable energy mix, energy efficiency programmes and the development of ‘smart’ energy and energy storage solutions. With deep cuts to financial support for solar and onshore wind by the UK Government, new and imaginative alternative solutions to support low carbon energy need to be found. It is in this spirit that the NFLA will respond to the Scottish Parliament’s current consultation, making them also aware of the benefit of Scottish Councils being actively involved in delivering such low carbon energy schemes.
Dr David Toke commented:
“The Scottish Government has a great opportunity to become the UK leader in the supply of green energy. It can achieve this if its proposed Energy Company is able to offer long term power purchase agreements for new onshore wind and solar projects.”
NFLA Scotland Vice-Convener, Councillor Audrey Doig said:
“This comment piece by Dr David Toke is very useful to the NFLA as it considers its own views on whether the Scottish Government should consider developing a Scottish Energy Company. NFLA is a strong supporter of both decentralised and renewable energy as a component part of a present and a future low carbon energy mix. Local authority owned energy companies like Robin Hood Energy and Bristol Energy are showing Councils can provide a positive role in the generation of decentralised low carbon energy. Scotland has led the way in the development of renewable energy and the Scottish Government should actively consider if developing an Energy Company can bring added value to that. As ever, NFLA engages in this process as part of its role to provide innovative and imaginative solutions to drive low carbon energy forward in Scotland, the wider UK and Ireland.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 0161 234 3244.
Notes for editors:
(1) Scottish Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee, ‘Call for Views on developing a Publicly Owned Energy Company’, June 2018
(2) Ernst and Young report for the Scottish Government, ‘Publicly Owned Energy Company – Strategic Outline Case’, 29th March 2018
(3) NFLA Policy Briefing 177, ‘How Scotland’s new energy company could revive renewable energy in the country’, 27th July 2018