Westminster is failing in its duty to guarantee security of energy supply for consumers, with higher bills likely as a result, a Scottish Government report has warned.
The report suggests the UK is facing the highest risk of black-out in a generation, citing an Ofgem warning that spare generating capacity could fall as low as 2% in the future.
The paper criticises what it says is a failure by the UK Government to prioritise security of supply as the margin between electricity supply and demand gets tighter. In Scotland it says the equivalent gap is 20%.
It suggested that “plentiful” Scottish electricity generation can help keep the lights on and bills down across the UK but Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said Westminster subsidies for new nuclear generation “dwarf” those being offered to the wind, wave and tidal technologies that make up Scotland’s renewables sector.
“Having only 2% reserve energy in the system is extraordinarily risky and could result in big bill price hikes,” said Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing.
“The laws of supply and demand and the cost of bringing more expensive power plants onto the grid to meet peak demand will drive up household energy bills the closer the UK gets to having no spare generation capacity.
“Today’s substantial new paper from the Scottish Government shows that Scotland can help the UK keep the lights on and the bills down. Scotland exports electricity to England and Wales every year – in 2012 a quarter of the electricity generated here helped keep lights on across the rest of the UK.
“Scotland’s huge natural resources mean that we can supply electricity – reliably and affordably. This is the case now, and will be the case in the event of independence.
“But the UK Government’s mixed messages on renewables and its delayed energy market reforms have led to confusion and uncertainty for the renewable industry, and led to a raft of investments being cancelled – as National Grid has pointed out.”
The paper, UK Energy Policy and Scotland’s Contribution to Security of Supply, said: “The white paper on independence makes clear that Scotland’s energy aims can be fulfilled by the continuation of a single GB-wide energy market for electricity and gas, provided security of supply is not jeopardised. Continued participation in a single GB-wide energy market is also in line with the trend for increasing integration of energy markets across Europe.
“However, as a substantial supplier to the rest of the UK, an independent Scotland will require a far greater degree of oversight of the market arrangements for energy and firmer safeguards over Scottish energy security. The policies of the UK Government have brought us to point where the risk of black-outs is the highest for a generation.”
Last week Energy Secretary Ed Davey said Ofgem’s figure of 2% did not take into account the actions being taken by the UK Government, including plans to bring mothballed plants back online and to use interconnectors with Europe to increase the supply of gas and electricity.