A separate Scotland’s wind farm companies would face “serious competition” from other countries to sell their energy to the remainder of the UK, the Energy Secretary has warned the industry.
Ed Davey told the Scottish Renewables annual conference in Edinburgh that its members could no longer rely on subsidies from energy bill payers across the UK to make a profit.
Instead wind farm companies in Scotland would have to compete with green energy providers in countries like Norway and Ireland to supply the remainder of the UK.
Mr Davey warned it would be much more difficult for Scottish wind farms to provide energy at a competitive price if they relied on subsidies from just two-and-a-half million households rather than more than 23 million homes across Britain.
The Liberal Democrat delivered his warning as Scottish Renewables produced an opinion poll that claimed 62 per cent of people would be happy for a large wind farm to be built in their council area.
However, the You Gov survey raised further concerns about the effect on Scottish tourism after less than seven out of ten people responded that the presence of a wind farm would not affect their decision to visit an area.
It also emerged that an anti-wind farm campaign group is to stage a march at the SNP’s spring conference in Inverness on Saturday in protest at the spread of turbines across Scotland’s countryside.
Mr Davey told the conference he supported Alex Salmond’s plan to generate the equivalent of all Scotland’s electricity from renewable sources by the end of the decade.
But he said it would be a “daunting task” that would be further undermined by separation, before rejecting the SNP’s claim that the remainder of the UK would have to buy a separate Scotland’s green energy.
“An independent Scotland will be just that – independent – treated by the UK as just one of a number of countries it could buy renewables from,” he told the conference.
“We are pursuing a number of interconnection projects with our European neighbours, including Norway and Ireland. For an independent Scotland, this would potentially represent serious competition.
“If the UK were to look beyond its borders for renewable energy, we would need to consider which sources provide the cheapest and most reliable options for our people.”
He compared this situation with the current single energy market across the UK, which gives Scottish energy providers automatic access to more than 23 households.
According to the Scottish Renewables poll, conducted by YouGov, 69 per cent of people say their visit an area of Scotland would not be affected by the presence of a wind farm. However, this leaves 31 per cent who refused to provide this guarantee.
Mike MacKenzie, an SNP MSP, said the survey showed Scots “are enthusiastic” about renewable energy.
But campaign group Scotland Against Spin is to stage a march on Saturday “to let the SNP know we have had enough of their industrial turbines, their disregard of the Scottish people and the destruction of our precious scenery.”
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