Scottish Conference to debate a 4 day working week and nuclear power

Regional and national conferences will give Liberal Democrat members a much needed chance to get together over the next couple of months.

Last week, the preliminary agenda for Scottish Conference was published. The three day event will take place in Hamilton between 28 and 30 October.

There are going to be some controversial debates.  Proposals to reverse our long standing opposition to new nuclear power stations,  backing a 4 day working week, and a new model requiring local authorities to provide new homes for social buy sit alongside  more classical liberal fare on restricting employers rights to snoop on employees working at home and giving more powers to local government.

Conference will also debate a constitutional amendment, proposed by current leader Alex Cole-Hamilton, that future Scottish leaders should be allowed to be either an MP or MSP and future deputy leaders could be councillors as well as parliamentarians.

It will be the first in person conference in Scotland since Spring 2019. The Autumn conference that year had to be cancelled because of the General Election. It’s a return to the Hamilton venue that, to the surprise of some, proved to be pretty much ideal. I was one of those who had to eat a large portion of humble pie. Scottish Conference Committee Convener Paul McGarry did a good job of looking beyond the traditional venues of Perth, Aberdeen and Dunfermline.

You can register for Conference here and the whole agenda is available here. The deadline for amendments is 5pm on 25th October and for emergency motions 5pm on 27th October.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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13 Comments

  • Andrew MacGregor 20th Sep '22 - 7:01pm

    In terms with of nuclear power stations a number of critical elements need considered.
    1) Does Scotland need new nuclear power stations for its energy consumption or one replacement for either Torness or Hunterston?
    2) Is there genuine confidence that the current nuclear provider – EDF can meet and is competent to meet the staffing requirements and training to ensure safe operation – or will the pressure for profits impact on that need?
    3) If a new station or stations are installed what effort will the party make to stop the Westminster Govt using connection charges to the grid in Scotland to subsidise the SE energy supply market?
    Is the demand for nuclear stations a Tory one and likely to cost us nothing in votes or lose votes in future?

  • Jenny Barnes 21st Sep '22 - 7:15am

    Demand for nukes is from physics. That’s if you want electricity when the sun isn’t shining and the wind doesn’t blow.

  • Jenny,

    That argument is the same one the climate change deniers use to justify coal and gas fired stations. It is a specious argument, particularly in Scotland which has very very few days where there is no wind, and even when the sun isn’t ‘shining’ Solar PV panels still work. It is highly unlikely that both sun and wind would be absent for any great period. That however doesn’t take into account hydro-electric generation.
    Hydro-Electric from all sources is equivalent to 3x the output from Torness – Hunterston is now closed.
    Interestingly, Scotland had net exports of 16TWhs last year with 11.2TWhs consumed.
    Scotland produces from all renewables enough electricity for 3 Scotlands. Does it need more nuclear power? No.
    Let’s try to argue using facts not slogans.

  • Jenny Barnes 21st Sep '22 - 3:15pm

    Well, I rather think you’ll agree that solar PVs don’t produce much electricity at night time, and in the scottish winter night times are rather long. So if you have a couple of weeks of anti-cyclonic gloom you’ll have no wind or solar. Good luck running on hydro for 2 weeks. The trouble with measuring total electricity produced is storage. There are very few and expensive ways of storing a summer’s worth of electricity for use in the cold still winter. The assumption being made is that the grid and “someone” will have surplus generating capacity to fire up in these circumstances. If you look at Gridwatch you’ll see that most of the time wind doesn’t live up to billing. Right now it’s generating 5GW, lovely, but without the 17GW of gas , 4 GW of nuclear & 2.5GW of biomass at Drax the UK would be a bit short of the 32GW demand.

  • Andrew, it takes a basic understanding of the weather and that night-time happens to realise that there are lulls in electricity production from solar and wind. The amount of electricity exported is not the relevant factor here, as that itself is a product of generation being variable. National Grid figures for 2021 show that Scotland was able to meet all of our electricity from demand 43% of the time. It’s a massive step forward from where we were 20 years ago but claims that we’re virtually self-sufficient are political hyperbole.

    When you have a grid that extends over a larger geographical area then it’s less likely there will be a time with no wind, but unless your grid, but night-time coincided for most of Western Europe.

    The ‘argument’ about needing something other than solar and wind is based in reality. If we don’t want the climate deniers to use it as an excuse to keep going with coal or gas then us environmentalists need to engage with reality and ensure we have suitable alternatives.

    Hydro has many benefits, but as we move away from coal, gas and petrol/diesel, then we will need a lot more reliable electricity generation. Old hydro is popular, but new hydro less so.

  • According to the reliable and independent ‘Full Fact’ website :

    “Scotland produces renewable electricity equivalent to its annual consumption, but some of this is exported, meaning it uses significant amounts of non-renewable electricity as well. In 2020, 56% of the electricity consumed in Scotland came from renewable sources”…….. and to other parts of the UK last year as wind power increasing becomes the country’s second North Sea Oil.

    I’m still waiting for a full throated Lib Dem attack on Truss for wanting to re-start fracking (and to call out her ridiculous opposition to solar farms). I’m sure such an attack would not only be correct, but also popular. Here’s one thing that Ed Davey could campaign on with some authority.

  • Peter Watson 21st Sep '22 - 10:07pm

    @David Raw “Here’s one thing that Ed Davey could campaign on with some authority.”
    Until, of course, he’s reminded of his love of shale gas! 🙁 (https://www.energylivenews.com/2013/07/10/i-love-shale-gas-davey-confirms-again/)

  • Good point, Peter. That’s one of the few things I’d forgotten about when he was in Government….. though I can remember plenty of other stuff !!

  • Fracking. A need for clarity, please.

    I would be grateful if someone who can speak with authority could please clarify the stance of Sir Ed Davey on the contentious issue of fracking. There seems to be a contradiction in the assertion made by Peter Watson above and a report in the Daily Telegraph a few days ago : viz,

    “Ed Davey: I’m proud to have stopped fracking, despite energy crisis
    Lib Dem leader says party will run on anti-fracking platform against Conservatives in by-elections and at next general election”. By Will Hazell 27 August 2022 • 5:30pm

  • @David, Scotland’s ability to export renewable energy when we make more than we can use is great. It helps reduce global carbon emissions and supports Scottish industry, but the reason we continue to rely on non-renewables isn’t because we’ve exported excess renewables. It’s almost all because there were substantial periods of time when renewables are not sufficient to meet our needs. 57% of the time according to National Grid data.

    The article you quote was a rebuttal to false claims by Sturgeon that Scotland is near self-sufficient for energy/electricity and the full article makes that clear. Unfortunately instead of holding their hands up to admit they got carried away, ScotGov representatives continue to use opaque language and slight of tongue to give a false impression of Scotland’s situation.

    Scotland has done well to expand the use of renewables and everyone involved can be proud. The only reason to pretend we don’t continue to rely on other generation is to give a false impression of self-sufficiency. This is too important to fall foul of nationalistic propaganda.

  • Laurence Cox 22nd Sep '22 - 12:12pm

    Seen from a distance, what I don’t understand is why the Scottish Lib Dems are not attacking the Scottish Government over their failure to fund the conversion of Scottish hydro-electric power stations to pumped-storage. It’s now over a decade since David MacKay FRS wrote “Sustainable Energy – without the hot air” https://www.withouthotair.com/ and his comments on pumped-storage were based on research carried out by Strathclyde University. MacKay was looking at a total required electrical storage capacity of 1200 GWh for the UK, of which he thought about 400 GWh could be achieved by converting the largest existing hydro-electric power plants. One of the Strathclyde reports, based on slightly different assumptions to MacKay’s came up with just over 500 GWh. Either way, this storage figure is large enough that, considering Scotland on its own, it is likely that pumped-storage alone would be sufficient to make it fossil-fuel free for electricity generation.

    Here is just one of Strathclyde University’s recent articles on the subject (googling will find several others):
    https://pureportal.strath.ac.uk/en/publications/the-case-for-pumped-storage-hydro-in-the-uks-energy-mix

  • Peter Watson 22nd Sep '22 - 7:25pm

    @David Raw “Fracking. A need for clarity, please.”
    Most definitely! The party’s opponents have already noticed the apparent inconsistency (https://order-order.com/2022/07/18/ed-daveys-fracking-hypocrisy/), so we can be sure that a pre-election Andrew Neil-style interview could bring it up.
    Changing one’s mind is fine (as Churchill implied, it would be silly not to if the facts change!), but it undermines the party if its (or Ed Davey’s) position can be depicted as depending on the audience rather than the principles, reinforcing a particular image of the Lib Dems.

  • Mick Taylor 23rd Sep '22 - 6:59am

    The answer is never nuclear fission. Whatever benefits its supporters come up with, they never mention the very real and continuing problem of storing nuclear waste safely, given the extended half life of nuclear fuels in general. We are not talking a few years but quite probably hundreds. Maybe, and it’s a big maybe, someone, somewhere will find a way of harnessing nuclear fusion, but so far fusion has only been possible on a vanishingly small level and it’s not going to be a quick or simple solution.
    The answer is to go big time for the whole range of renewables. Wind, including offshore wind – currently banned by this appalling government – solar, hydro, heat exchangers and tidal. It also means serious research to develop reliable and cheap electricity storage that doesn’t depend on rare metals [mined at great human expense]. It is already possible to generate a lot of home electric capacity from solar panels and there is basic storage capacity, though it’s not cheap. I had planned to install this in my house in Todmorden before someone made an offer I couldn’t refuse and I sold up.

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