All-Energy 2013: Panel discusses ways to move industry forward

Fergus Ewing
Fergus Ewing

Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said yesterday at All-Energy 2013 that the next step for renewables would depend on the UK Government’s plan for energy reform.

Speaking on the opening panel at the UK’s largest renewable-energy show, he said the long-awaited energy market reform (EMR) had received cross-party support in the Scottish Parliament.

The EMR will in July set out, among other policy issues, the value of tariffs to be offered to the different renewable-energy sectors, including offshore wind and wave and tidal power.

Mr Ewing said the Scottish Government was working closely with the Department of Energy and Climate Change so that the tariff subsidies to renewables were neither too high nor too low. He added: “It’s been a successful year for renewables in general.

“Last year we produced around 40% of our electricity demand in Scotland from renewable sources.”

He added that more than 11,000 jobs were supported by the renewables industry, more than those directly employed by the whisky industry in Scotland.

Lady Rice, managing director of Lloyds Banking Group Scotland, who was also on the opening panel, said one of the reasons energy was Scotland’s largest growth area was the Scottish Government’s ambitious renewable-energy targets. She added that the appetite for risk in renewables was in transition, with investors buoyed by both UK and Scottish government investment in the industry through projects such as the Green Investment Bank.

Lady Rice added: “If you want to see private-equity firms and institutional investors stay interested, it’s essential they see a pipeline of investable projects on the horizon.”

Panel speaker Benj Sykes, UK windpower manager for Dong Energy, spoke of the need for stability in regulation and policy to attract investment.

He said the UK was Dong’s largest market for offshore wind, with high generation costs remaining another challenge facing the industry.

The Danish firm is planning to reduce its production costs by 40% using new turbines, better designed vessels and a restructured business model.

All-Energy runs for two days and features exhibits from about 580 companies.

The first day of the show at Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre attracted more than 5,500 people.