Carmichael talks green investment, energy and renewables

AlistairCarmichaelYesterday, Alistair Carmichael spoke at a Green investment conference in Edinburgh, which is, of course, home to the Green Investment Bank.

It was a strong pitch to persuade those attending that the Liberal Democrats are delivering in Government on policies that are both green and pro-businesss. Here are some of the highlights.

Being Scotland, there had to be a bit on the constitution, though, and the Smith Commission:

Last week Lord Smith convened the first cross-party talks to reach agreement on the proposals for further devolution to Scotland.
His terms of reference make clear that the recommendations will deliver more financial, welfare and taxation powers, strengthening the Scottish Parliament within the United Kingdom, while making it more accountable to those who elect it.
But this process is not just about the parties – the referendum has opened up civic engagement in Scotland across sectors, communities and organisations.
And Lord Smith has made clear he wants to hear from all of these groups to ensure his recommendations are informed by views from right across Scottish society.
I hope that some of the submissions he receives will come from people here in this room today.  Our new constitutional settlement must be one that is capable of developing and growing a green economy.
Within the context of a single UK-wide energy market – to be consistent with the view expressed by the people of Scotland last month.  If constitutional (and not just policy) change has a role to play then this is the moment to say so.

Success of Green Investment Bank

Alistair talked about how the Green Investment Bank is already financing ground-breaking projects:

It is innovating and making a real difference in getting difficult green infrastructure projects financed: from large scale projects to smaller initiatives.
Earlier this year I visited Glasgow City Council who’ve benefitted from a Green Loan to help make the switch to low energy street lighting.
Scotland’s largest local authority will be the first council to use the loan to replace tens of thousands of traditional streetlights with energy efficient LED lights- with the cost of repayments covered by their energy savings.

Renewable energy success and potential

Around a  third of all renewable generation in the UK is now in Scotland.
With renewables now providing enough electricity to meet roughly 45% of Scotland’s consumption.
Together we are now around half way to our ambition of meeting at least 30% of the UK’s electricity needs from renewables by 2020.
And, with the framework that we are putting in place, we could  do even better.
Last week  – with the help of the tail end of a hurricane – wind power produced more energy in one day than nuclear for the first time ever.
It’s not all the same across Europe, though:
For example, EU-wide renewables investment halved from 2012 to 2013.
This is worrying.
For those of us who believe in a multilateral approach to fighting climate change, it is concerning to see investment fall.
But it is a reflection of the realities.
The UK’s healthy deployment pipeline, our stable investment climate and our determination to maintain healthy investment, despite the economic backdrop, have ensured that we have nonetheless bucked that European trend.
Because of the shared endeavour between public and private interests in the UK, we are one of the most attractive places in the world for investment in renewable energy.
And, according to Ernst and Young’s renewable attractiveness index  we are in first place when it comes to offshore wind and marine energy.
 He went on to talk about the UK Government’s commitment to investment:
The UK government is committed to giving investors the certaintythey need and companies want, to invest under our new regime
In April this year, DECC awarded early Contracts for Difference to eight major renewable electricity projects  as part of the government’s world leading electricity reforms, giving a massive boost to green growth and green jobs.
By 2020, these projects will provide up to £12 billion of private sector investment, supporting 8,500 jobs, and they could add a further 4.5GW of low-carbon electricity to Britain’s energy mix (or around 4% of capacity), generating enough clean electricity to power over three million homes.
Once built, the successful projects will contribute around 14% of the renewable electricity we expect to come forward by 2020, helping to put the UK well on the way to meeting the UK’s renewable energy target.
Most importantly of all, they will also reduce emissions by 10 MtCO2 [Metric Tonne Carbon Dioxide Equivalent] per year compared to fossil fuel power generation.
And he wouldn’t be the MP for Orkney & Shetland if he didn’t talk about the islands, now, would he?
Last year the coalition government also announced  a specific strike price for Scottish Islands which will help to unlock their renewable potential.
That was a welcome and necessary step and it established an important principle.
It provides, however, only a mechanism for supporting generation capacity once it is installed.
Without grid connections for the islands we shall never see that capacity installed and the potential for the generation of tidal and wave power will not be realised – or at the very least it will not be realised here.
Other countries have their eyes on the same prize so now, with the referendum behind us, I want to see all the effort of Scotland’s two governments, along with the regulator and the private sector, focused on making this happen.
That would be a missed opportunity of tragic proportions.  This is understood in Government.  It is why Ed Davey and Fergus Ewing set up the islands working group, involving both of Scotland’s governments and all relevant stakeholders to find a way through this.
Business interests and developers in Scotland have demonstrated faith in and commitment to that next generation of renewable technologies.
I am acutely aware that this faith and commitment needs to be matched by governments and regulations and soon.
Developers and supply chain businesses cannot hold on for ever while the question grid connectors is passed around like a hot potato.
As Secretary of State for Scotland I understand what is at stake here and I shall be doing everything in my power to make this happen.
It is all of course, underpinned by UK-wide investment, UK consumer-led subsidy, and a single UK energy market.
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This entry was posted in News.


  • Jenny Barnes 28th Oct '14 - 11:02am

    “4.5GW of low-carbon electricity to Britain’s energy mix (or around 4% of capacity), generating enough clean electricity to power over three million homes.”

    The “home” as a unit of electric power used to be 0.5 KW. In the Didcot fire it suddenly changed to 1.4 or 2.8 KW – it’s not clear whether the commentary was about the total 1.4 GW output of the whole station or the 0.7 GW of the burned generator unit. Here – well it looks like 1.5 KW, unless we’re talking about windpower, in which case divide that 4.5 GW by 3 or 4 to get your equivalent output, which would make it either 2 or 3 KW.

    Bottom line – pay no attention to anybody purporting to measure electricity output as “powering homes”.
    Be especially suspicious of they talk of powering “x million homes” That’s I- don’t- know- what-I’m talking- about-speak for “a lot”.

    In any case, how about heat? A typical home needs heat as well as electric power.

  • Demolition job by Polly in today’s Guardian. I’m sure she’s speaking for many Lib Dem types with her attack on the government over onshore wind power.

    Really taking the tough decisions for the country’s future would involve building wind turbines that might blight parts of our natural landscape but would also provide us with clean energy and boost our energy security. Our reliance on energy imports from countries that may be pretty hostile to us is not in our long run interests. I’m amazed that no-one seems bothered by the fact that the Chinese government is building new nuclear power stations in this country. Nothing will change under the current coalition and obviously nothing either if it continues in some form after May. Very revealing that at the bottom of Polly’s article she mentions that it’s all but impossible to get the wind argument through the media other than with the Guardian/Independent/FT triumvirate. Isn’t it about time this party opened its eyes and faced who the real enemy is in Britain today?

  • Jenny Barnes 29th Oct '14 - 12:02pm

    > William
    That’s not going to happen in the foreseeable future. We just might be able (with some really heroic assumptions) to run the UK on native renewables, but more realistically something like 15% looks like the upper limit. See and following pages.
    If you look at the proposals for meeting UK needs, they assume electric cars simply replace fossilfuel ones. I think we would do better to switch to a much higher use for cycles. Maybe that would halve the energy demand for transport (still need HGVs, air, train, ship, bus). See et seq for possible energy plans.

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