The unreliability of wind power could mean an independent Scotland would have to import energy from England – leaving it with the highest household bills in the world, it was claimed yesterday.
In an interview with Scotland on Sunday, Sir Donald Miller, former chairman of both the South of Scotland Electricity Board and of ScottishPower, has described the SNP’s current energy policy on producing 100 per cent of Scotland’s needs from renewables as “disastrous”.
First Minister Alex Salmond has claimed that an independent Scotland would be the “Saudi Arabia of renewables”. But Sir Donald warned that Scots could face the highest bills in the world once a single UK energy market ceased to exist and they had to pay for imported power.
Sir Donald said an independent Scotland could find itself in the same position as Denmark, which produces much of its energy from wind and has the highest household bills in the world – about 70 per cent more than the UK – because it has to import at premium prices from Norway when the wind is not blowing.
Denmark currently produces about 30 per cent of its needs from renewables and plans to increase this by 50 per cent by 2020, just half the Scottish target of 100 per cent. Sir Donald said: “Independence with present energy policies would be disastrous for Scotland. It would be even worse than the Denmark situation.”
He said the one thing that would potentially save Scotland is its nuclear power stations, which are due to operate until 2023. However, the SNP has blocked any new nuclear power plants being built and have promised to make Scotland “nuclear-free”.
Sir Donald said: “So long as the nuclear stations at Hunterston and Torness are operational Scotland might just about muddle through, but without them would be reliant on energy coming from England. It would be importing energy back when the wind is not blowing strongly enough, and that would be for most of the time.”
He also dismissed the suggestion that marine power could prove a reliable source of energy. Sir Donald said: “Marine energy is a waste of consumers’ money. Costs would be entirely unacceptable. Wave energy is even less promising, with consumers presently paying five times the value of the energy in subsidies via their electricity bills.
“No disinterested engineer would believe that these could ever be sensible investments to meet the UK’s energy requirements.”
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