Alex Salmond: Scotland's energy-rich potential is unrivalled
IN THE current economic climate, the Scottish Government has a clear priority to support a strong economic recovery.
Our economic recovery programme is channelling resources and investment to relieve pressures on households and high streets, supporting thousands of jobs. This work goes beyond the current challenges, building and preparing for the industries and opportunities of the future. Few other sectors present the vast potential and scale of opportunity for Scotland as energy.
Energy is one of the dominant issues of the 21st century – for the global economy, security of supply, and for the environment. An energy-rich nation, Scotland has huge economic and environmental opportunities. We have 25 per cent of Europe's offshore wind and tidal resources. Scotland's potential for electricity generation from renewables is up to 60GW – more than ten times our peak demand. And Scotland has an unrivalled competitive advantage in carbon capture and storage. Our offshore storage capacity for carbon emissions is greater than the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany combined.
Scotland could, should and must become a world leader in reducing harmful emissions and producing clean, green energy. Developing technologies of the future in Scotland – and securing the benefits of exporting Scottish technology overseas – is where we can best make our global contribution to tackling climate change, as well as meeting our own ambitious renewable energy targets. At Scottish, UK and EU levels, we must ensure that we have the right conditions in place to support the development of Scotland as the Green Energy capital of Europe.
There are tremendous economic rewards to be gained from realising our energy potential. The development of renewable energy and carbon capture alone could create more than 20,000 jobs in Scotland over the next decade. Our natural resources, ambition and comparative advantage provide us with a unique opportunity to develop jobs, skills and industries of the future.
As we mark two years in office, we can see real progress with Scottish Ministers having approved no less than 20 major renewable projects, including Europe's largest windfarm at Clyde and Siadar, one of the largest wave energy projects on the planet. Last month, I welcomed Welcon Towers to Machrihanish, which will double the size of the wind tower manufacturing plant. This is a truly transformational development for the Mull of Kintyre, bringing with it an overall economic impact of no less than 450 new jobs, effectively moving this beautiful area of Scotland – previously an unemployment blackspot – towards full employment.
The Crown Estate has awarded Exclusivity Agreements to 10 offshore wind sites in Scottish territorial waters – sites with the potential to generate 6GW of electricity.
Scottish Government detailed feasibility studies have put Scotland at the forefront of planning for a North Sea electricity Supergrid which would enable us to export surplus power from energy-rich northern Europe to energy-poorer areas. Scotland is playing its part to spur innovation around the world by advancing the world's largest single prize in marine innovation, the Saltire Prize. Since its launch last December, 100 scientists and businesses across 23 countries and five continents have registered their interest to compete for the Saltire Prize.
Thanks to the success of the oil and gas industry over the past 35 years, Scotland has skills which can transfer to other energy technologies, as well as continuing to drive forward the North Sea sector. A recent survey by SCDI showed that our oil and gas supply chain generated sales of 14.2 billion in 2007 – up 10 per cent from the previous year. Based on the expertise we can transfer from oil and gas, Scottish companies are well placed to succeed – particularly in placing structures in difficult maritime conditions.
Scottish companies large and small are already succeeding internationally. One of our greatest companies, Scottish & Southern, is winning key contracts in China and in the same marketplace a fast growing company only five years in existence, SgurrEnergy, is expanding with dramatic new technological innovations.
Clean, green energy is the future for both Scotland and the planet. The safe capture and storage of harmful emissions is a prerequisite for a sustainable and safe world. The green energy revolution is being developed, built, tested and established – real jobs, real technology, happening in Scotland now. By contrast, nuclear power is unreliable and unwanted in Scotland. The UK Government's plans to build a new generation of nuclear power stations south of the border were recently called into question when it emerged that the same EPR reactor currently being built in Finland is already three years behind schedule and 50 per cent over budget.
Today key industry and energy players will meet with government for the first time for the meeting of the Energy Advisory Board, to discuss Scotland's current and future strategic energy policy, and to ensure that we continue to push Scotland's energy advantages on a European and global basis.
We all want safe, sustainable energy. It is central both to our economic recovery and to our future. And we are doing all that we can to make sure that Scotland continues to be well-placed to play its part at home and abroad.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 3 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 7 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West