Oil tycoon Sir Ian Wood has accused Scottish ministers of being in denial over their belief that the country’s energy needs can be met from renewable sources.
The Aberdeen-based millionaire, chairman of global oil services firm Wood Group, said First Minister Alex Salmond’s energy policy was unsustainable and the country needed to maintain a mix of renewable, hydrocarbon and nuclear sources.
In the past the SNP has said it will not let any of the UK Government’s four proposed new nuclear power stations be based north of the border, branding the energy source “dangerous, expensive, unreliable and unnecessary”.
Mr Wood said the country faced an energy crisis in the next decade if it does not make use of nuclear power.
“Relying solely on renewable energy is impossible,” he said. “We couldn’t produce enough quickly enough, and hydrocarbons are inevitably going to reduce.
“Although renewables will generate a significant amount of energy, they will hardly keep pace with the increased demand.
“Nuclear is expensive, that is very true, but we don’t want to get to the point where a little old lady is going to be very cold or sitting in her flat in the dark because she actually can’t ever afford to put on the heating or lighting because energy is in such short supply.”
Murdo Fraser, the deputy leader of the Scottish Conservatives, agreed Mr Salmond was “refusing to face facts” on the issue, adding: “It is the SNP’s blinkered dogma which is threatening to turn out the lights across Scotland by refusing to consider continued nuclear power as part of the energy mix.”
The SNP defended its energy policy, insisting renewables would be a driver of the economy after the recession.
Energy Minister Jim Mather said: “Investment in renewable energy is driving Scotland’s economic recovery, with projects up and down the country supporting highly skilled, low-carbon jobs.
“Every pound spent on nuclear power in other parts of the UK is £1 less available on developing renewable and clean energy technology.”