Scottish Energy Minster Fergus Ewing yesterday questioned the UK government’s planned electricity market reform, warning it would provide public subsidies for nuclear power that could instead be focused on renewables.
Giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Enterprise, Energy and Tourism Committee, Ewing said there were serious questions about the proposals.
Under the draft legislation outlined last month, the existing support mechanism for clean technologies, the Renewable Obligation, would be replaced with ‘contracts for difference’. The new system would guarantee a price for electricity, providing long term revenue stability for investors, reducing risk and lowering costs for consumers.
But Ewing warned that any reforms to the electricity market must reflect Scotland’s devolved status and its low-carbon ambitions.
While the UK government has issued repeated reassurances that the bill will not subsidise new nuclear, Ewing said the Scottish authorities have significant concerns about the energy mix being pursued.
“There are very serious questions about the model of energy market reform the UK government is proposing,” says Ewing. “This could be a real opportunity to support and encourage low carbon energy and we want to make it work, but we cannot be in favour of subsidies for nuclear energy.”
In its response to the proposals, the Scottish Government says it supports the aim of strengthening market support for renewable electricity and will work with the UK government to make sure they are effective.
Meanwhile, 21 community groups across Scotland are sharing £2.9 million over the next three years through the Climate Challenge Fund (CCF).
The efforts will help local communities across the region reduce their carbon footprint and switch to low-carbon lifestyles.
“Scottish communities are playing their part, taking action to reduce their carbon footprint with support from our CCF,” says Minister for Environment and Climate Change Stewart Stevenson. “[It] has captured the imagination of our communities, producing many innovative ideas and projects to change behaviours and drive down emissions.”
For further information:
Boost for Scottish renewables sector (12-Jun)
UK government publishes long-awaited Energy Bill (23-May)
Energy companies warn UK government over support for renewables (17-May)
UK electricity market reform ‘hiding’ nuclear subsidies, says report (16-May 2011)
21 June 2012