AN INDEPENDENT Scotland would not be able to afford its ambitious targets on renewable energy if the UK government refused to continue to subsidise it, five leading academics have argued.
The team led by Dr David Toke, of the University of Birmingham, warn that support from Westminster would be “politically unachievable”, because it could only be paid for with a rise in consumer bills.
The report, published this week in Political Quarterly, says: “The Scottish Government has led the way in the pursuit of ambitious renewable energy objectives, but it is still the case that without the subsidies paid by electricity consumers in the rest of the UK, the Scottish Government’s ambitious targets for renewable energy would be politically unachievable.”
Dr Toke said: “Scottish independence will only be good for renewable energy if the Westminster government agrees, in advance, to pay the same rates for Scottish renewables as is available south of the Border. However, no such agreement exists, or is likely to exist.”
The report adds: “It is argued that if Scotland does move towards independence, then there could be little reason for the UK to continue paying [much] of the subsidies, since the resulting renewable generation would no longer contribute towards UK renewable energy targets.”
The experts warn that funding a significant expansion of Scottish-based offshore renewable under independence would “lead to considerable increases in Scottish electricity prices”.
Shadow energy minister Tom Greatrex said: “This study is confirmation of what everybody already knows… the continued development of renewable energy in Scotland is dependent upon being part of the integrated British energy system.”
An SNP government spokesman said: “The reality is that the rest of the UK not only needs Scotland’s electricity to meet its own renewables targets, but also to help keep the lights on.”