Renewable energy: Scotland's wind is making huge profits, but for China, France, Ireland, Sweden, Norway... – Kenny MacAskill

The cold spell has brought home the energy crisis with a vengeance. Many in Scotland will be able to see wind turbines turning from their homes, whether on or offshore, as they struggle to keep warm.
Wind turbines on the hillside behind Stirling Castle (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)Wind turbines on the hillside behind Stirling Castle (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Wind turbines on the hillside behind Stirling Castle (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

That these are contributing towards saving the planet means nothing whilst people are shivering in their houses, when they neither benefit from the clean and cheap renewable electricity that’s produced nor see their country accrue the profits. Yet government failures both sides of the Border see other lands and their people profit from Scotland’s natural bounty.

Tying the price of renewable electricity to high-cost European gas was utter folly. Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine may have spiked the cost of gas but he’s not responsible for the price-link absurdity. Privatisation of the network has been calamitous, but a supposed free market system has failed to encourage competitiveness and has created a cost system that could have come from the former Soviet Union.

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Compounding that, the enormous profits generated for many energy companies as a result aren’t even benefiting the Scottish or UK taxpayer. For sure the Chancellor gets some corporate taxes and a windfall tax will enhance that. But the additional absurdity of the UK energy market is that profits flow to state energy companies. However, none of them are a Scottish state energy company or even a UK one.

Instead, huge profits, on and offshore, are being generated by the state companies the Tories so despise, but for the benefit of other nations and their citizens. In Scottish offshore wind farms, there’s not one but six foreign-state operators. This cold snap will see them ramping up profits.

France’s EDF is a long-established player in the energy field with Torness in my East Lothian constituency having been turning a substantial coin for them over many years. Now they’re expanding into Scottish renewables and, in the Neart na Gaoithe field just off the Fife coast, they’re partnering with ESB, the state electricity board from the Republic of Ireland.

And there are more of these state firms that are so derided by the Tories. Around our shores, we’ve Vattenfall from Sweden who are a major player like EDF and are 100 per cent owned by the Swedish government. They’re already operating a windfarm off the coast of Aberdeenshire.

Slightly further north, just off Peterhead, their Norwegian counterparts Equinor are also turning turbines and generating profits for their nation and people. They’re joint owners of the Hywind field along with Masdar which is owned by the government of the United Arab Emirates.

Back in the Forth, Red Rock are similarly working away for the People’s Republic of China, as they’re yet another state-owned firm. Onshore, it’s similar – the Danes not only monopolise turbine manufacture but own onshore wind farms through their state company Orsted.

Energy-rich Scotland is generating record profits for state-owned companies. That’s not an absurdity of capitalism, it’s a failure of government. I don’t mind state ownership. Indeed, I approve of it and this shows why.

But where’s the national energy company we were promised and that even Wales is now delivering? It’s time Scotland profited from its natural bounty.

Kenny MacAskill is Alba Party MP for East Lothian



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