Sturgeon's independence bid derailed as Westminster 'pulling rug' from under Scotland

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The question of Scotland’s energy promises to be a key issue for Scottish independence. Scotland has emerged in recent years as a world leader in producing green energy with investment in renewables helping the nation achieve its net zero goals. Earlier this year it was revealed Scotland had come tantalisingly close in 2020 to generating 100 percent of its electricity demand through renewable sources – and Mr Ruskell believes Scotland’s future is equally bright and green.

Off the back of Scotland’s successes, the SNP and Greens have announced a historic partnership to “cement the pro-independence majority in Holyrood”.

Although the deal is yet to be voted on by both parties, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon believes it will lead to a “greener, fairer independent Scotland”.

Should Scotland succeed in its independence bid, England would no longer have a say over Scotland’s renewable energy sector and Mr Ruskell believes there is presently a strong case for a more devolved energy policy in Scotland.

He said: “It would be very advantageous if this Parliament in Edinburgh had full powers over energy and regulation of markets as well.

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Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon

The SNP and Greens both want to push for independence (Image: GETTY)

Scotland offshore wind farm

Scotland’s renewable energy sector will play a key role in an independence bid (Image: GETTY)

“We don’t have that, so there’s an uneasy relationship with the Westminster Government.

“There’s a lot of concern with the off-shore wind industry in Scotland about the removal of the Renewables Obligation certificate.”

The Renewables Obligation (RO) was the UK’s leading schemes aiding large-scale renewable energy projects.

The RO was implemented in 2002 in England, Wales and Scotland, and was followed three years later by Northern Ireland, replacing the Non-Fossil Fuel Obligation of 1990.

The scheme placed an obligation on electricity suppliers in the UK to draw an increasing amount of power from renewable sources.

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The Renewables Obligation (RO) closed to all new generating capacity in 2017 and was replacede by the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme.

According to Mr Ruskell this had a devastating impact on Scotland.

He said: “At the time, that led to a collapse in many projects in Scotland.

“Projects that were in the right place, that had gone through the right planning system, but suddenly the rug got pulled out from under that industry.

“And as a result growth in off-shore wind has stagnated in the last few years, so there are some advantages in having some energy policy brought fully to the Scottish Parliament.”

But even with the setbacks, Scotland has managed to make leaps and bounds towards reaching its green targets.

Energy statistics published in March this year for the fourth quarter of 2020, show 97.4 percent of Scotland’s gross electricity consumption came from renewable sources.


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Greens MSP Mark Ruskell

Mark Ruskell believes Scotland has what it takes to leave the UK (Image: GETTY)

Nicola Sturgeon at wind farm

The Greens MSP said Scotland will benefit from devolved energy policy (Image: GETTY)

The figures fell just shy of the 100 percent target for 2020 Scotland had set in 2011.

At the same time, Scotland saw an increase in net exports of electricity by 21 percent, amounting to a wholesale market value of £760million.

As per the UK Government’s plans, Britain is to reach net-zero targets of carbon emission by 2050, with plans to slash emissions by 78 percent by 2035.

Mr Ruskell believes Scotland has an opportunity to invest in the private sector, as an independent nation, to build a stronger and more robust green energy sector.

Even with England out of the picture, he predicts there will be opportunities for implementing a partnership where Scotland and England can trade energy.

You already see countries on the continent trading energy at off-peak times, particularly in the Nordic countries.

The UK already has agreed upon a Free Trade deal with the EU to trade electricity post-Brexit, so it is possible to strike a working partnership.

Mr Ruskell said: “You do have countries very much playing to their strengths and as a result, you get a stronger, more resilient energy system because you’re able to bring in, particularly, renewables generation that draws on the resources that different countries have.

“So I think right now allowing Scotland to fully maximise its renewable resources will be beneficial for the UKand be beneficial for Europe as well.”

Roy Walsh

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