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Opinion: Longannet closure….what about Iberdola’s broken promises?

Imagine an uninformed stranger arriving in Scotland and examining what passes for an energy policy. What conclusions would be reached about the self-contradictory, self-defeating chaos that has been achieved so far? On the one hand, we have a Scottish government which has made massive virtue out of a low-carbon energy policy, targeting a generation equivalent to 100% renewables. On the other, we have one of Europe’s most polluting power stations scheduled for near-imminent closure. Our passing stranger might reach one of two conclusions, or possibly both. First, the closure of Longannet is entirely consistent with the stated objectives of the current Holyrood administration.

Renewables/Energy Transition

Atlantis names Lockheed Martin as principal contractor to deliver turbine to MeyGen tidal power project

The majority owner of MeyGen, the world’s largest tidal stream energy project- based in Caithness, has extended a construction contraction with a global defence contractor for the delivery of one of the largest capacity single rotor turbines ever built. Atlantis’ new 1.5 megawatt AR1500 turbine will be built with the help of Lockheed Martin and is hoped to fulfil the company’s MeyGen project turbine supply obligations. The 18 metre rotor diameter AR1500 turbine, scheduled for delivery dockside in Scotland in 2016, will be one of the largest capacity single rotor turbines ever built.

Renewables/Energy Transition

Green energy centre funding secured

Funding has been secured for a £25 million green energy centre at St Andrews University which will create 225 jobs. It is hoped the site at Guardbridge will help regenerate part of north-east Fife, with apprenticeships and opportunities in the construction of the centre. The scheme is part of a drive by St Andrews to become the UK’s first carbon-neutral university.

Other News

MSPs to hold energy supply inquiry

A Holyrood committee is to hold an inquiry into the security of Scotland’s energy supply in the wake of news that Longannet power station is likely to close prematurely. MSPs on the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee will take evidence on the UK electricity market with a focus on supply, demand and the transmission network. It follows the announcement that the troubled coal-fired plant in Fife will “in all likelihood” shut by March 2016 after losing out on a short-term National Grid contract. Operator Scottish Power said the station has been under pressure from higher transmission charges to connect to the grid due to its location.

Oil & Gas

Skills Development Scotland targets energy sector recruits

More must be done to attract young people and women to work in Scotland’s energy industry, a new report concludes. Attracting new entrants will be key to ensuring the future of the country’s oil, gas and renewable sectors, according to Skills Development Scotland (SDS). It has published an updated skills plan for the industry, setting out priorities for developing the workforce against the backdrop of a fall in oil prices.


Energy firms’ capitalisation hit by oil price decline

The market capitalisation of Scotland’s oil and gas companies listed on the Alternative Investment Market (Aim) fell by 31.9% to £373.5million as the sector was hit badly by the falling oil price during 2014. A report by accountants and business advisers BDO – entitled Drilling Down: an Overview of Performance and Prospects of AIM Oil and Gas Companies in 2014 – found that the UK sector market capitalisation fell by 44% in 2014 to £4.9billion. In Scotland there are four AIM-listed oil and gas companies accounting for 14.8% of the total number but constituting 36.2% of total market capitalisation.

Renewables/Energy Transition

Debate blows hot and cold over windfarms issue

A row broke out last night after a survey showed that the majority of people living in the north and north-east of Scotland support wind power. The industry claimed the results shot down the “vocal minority” of objectors who claim that most Scots are opposed to giant turbines dotting the countryside. But anti-windfarm campaigners said the findings had to be “taken with a bucket of salt” as they did not separate those who are “adversely affected”, mainly people living in rural areas and communities targeted by wind developers.

Renewables/Energy Transition

Scotland sees rise in community power output

The amount of electricity produced by projects owned by local communities has increased by more than a quarter in the last year, the Scottish Government has revealed. Ministers have set the target of having plants producing 500 megawatts (MW) of power in communities and local ownership by 2020. The latest figures show such schemes can generate 361MW, up from 285MW in the previous year. The increase was revealed by energy minister Fergus Ewing ahead of the Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES) conference in Stirling.


Oil price drop hits Scotland’s jobs outlook

The drop in crude prices has bumped Scotland's employment outlook down to its lowest level in two years, according to a new survey from recruitment agency Manpower. At minus 1%, Scotland is the only part of the UK with a negative outlook going into the second quarter.

Oil & Gas

Moratorium on fracking consents in Scotland

Energy minister Fergus Ewing has announced a moratorium on granting planning consents for fracking developments in Scotland to allow a full public consultation on the controversial issue. Mr Ewing also announced a programme of further research would be carried out into the technique to look at planning, environmental regulation and the impact on public health. Environmental campaigners had called on the Scottish Government to rule out hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, for shale gas after a move to introduce a UK-wide moratorium was heavily defeated at Westminster on Monday.

Renewables/Energy Transition

Fergus Ewing gives backing for turbines at centre of judicial review

Scotland’s Energy Minister Fergus Ewing hopes four major wind arrays in the firths of Forth and Tay will be built despite a major legal challenge to their development. Bird protection charity RSPB Scotland sent shockwaves through the sector in Scotland earlier this month after a last-minute move to seek judicial review of Mr Ewing’s decision to grant consents for the Neart na Gaoithe, Inch Cape and Seagreen Alpha and Bravo arrays. It is understood the RSPB’s application will come before the courts for the first time in late May and there are concerns within the industry the legal process will prove both costly and lengthy.


Bank of England governor warns oil prices will have ‘negative shock’ to Scottish economy

The plunge in oil prices represents a “negative shock” to the Scottish economy, Bank of England governor Mark Carney said. Mr Carney maintained that the decline - which has fed through to ultra-low inflation which it is hoped will boost consumer spending - was an overall positive development for the UK. But he admitted that Scotland, which is heavily reliant on North Sea reserves, would face a hit from the fall, which has seen the price of a barrel of Brent crude tumble by more than half since last summer to below $50, a near six-year low.


Video: First Minister launches taskforce to help oil and gas sector

The First Minister spoke to Energy Voice on her first to Aberdeen since becoming leader of the SNP party. To help the industry, the Scottish Government is setting up an energy jobs taskforce. Nicola Sturgeon said that the “recent drop in the price of a barrel of crude oil” as well as the UK Government’s “mismanagement” of the tax regime for oil and gas could “pose a threat to a number of jobs”.

Other News

Fracking powers for Holyrood

Powers over fracking for shale gas are poised to become the first of the Smith Commission proposals to be devolved to Holyrood. Labour had insisted that there was no need to wait until after May’s general election to give MSPs extended responsibilities over fracking. The cross-party Smith Commission recommended the power transfer, but shadow energy minister Tom Greatrex said the process should be fast-tracked.

Oil & Gas

Mineral could be used at new site unveiled by oil service firm

A mineral used as a weighting agent for drilling fluids in oil and gas exploration could be mined at a new site in Scotland under plans unveiled by oilfield service firm M-I Swaco yesterday. The company, part of energy service giant Schlumberger, said the "world-class" project at Duntanlich, near Aberfeldy in Perthshire, would create about 30 skilled jobs and indirect employment opportunities for local suppliers and contractors. Duntanlich is a replacement for the company's existing mine at nearby Foss, which has operated since 1985.

Renewables/Energy Transition

RSPB calls for judicial review into offshore windfarm projects

The RSPB has called for a judicial review after the Scottish Government gave consent for four offshore windfarms in the east of Scotland. The charity mounted a legal challenge at the Court of Session in Edinburgh over permission granted last October for four Scottish territorial and round three wind farms. The projects, in the Outer Forth and Tay, include Mainstream's 450MW Neart na Gaoithe, Repsol and EDP's 784MW Inch Cape and SSE and Fluor's 525MW Seagreen Alpha and 525MW Seagreen Bravo.

Other News

Oil fears stumbling block for Scottish recovery

Scotland’s economy finished 2014 on a “solid footing”, according to a new report. The monthly survey findings by the Bank of Scotland (BoS) found employment and business output grew in December, continuing at the same rate as the previous month. It is forecast that the economy will expand during 2015 but at a slower rate than last year.

Oil & Gas

Think-tank in oil revenues warning

Low oil prices could have a direct impact on the Scottish public purse when income tax is devolved, a think-tank has warned. Oil revenues remained reserved to Westminster in both the Scotland Act 2012 and the Smith Commission, but Scotland will receive 10p in the pound from next year with full income tax receipts promised in the next round of devolution. Fiscal Affairs Scotland said it is unclear whether oil prices will return to the average £70 a barrel seen in the last three years.

Other News

Final nuclear shipment returned

The final shipment of waste from a Scottish nuclear plant back to Belgium has been completed. It was created during the reprocessing of material sent from Belgium as part of a contract made between the UK Atomic Energy Authority and SCK/CEN of Belgium in the 1990s. The operators of BR2, which carries out materials research and produces isotopes for nuclear medicine, sent 240 spent fuel elements to Dounreay in Caithness during that decade.


Opinion: Picking winners – the future for wave energy and other technologies?

Throughout my career I’ve been involved to some extent or other in the development and commercialisation of technology. So, when faced with a selection of technology ideas to back I am acutely aware of the difficulties involved in sorting the wheat from the chaff. Believe me. It isn’t easy because the parameters you need to consider are many and varied and, of course, instinct and experience also count for a lot.


Scotland ‘could go all renewable’

Scotland’s electricity system could be powered almost entirely by renewable energy by 2030, according to a report by an environmental charity. WWF Scotland’s report uses independent analysis by an engineering and energy consultancy to test the Scottish Government’s policy to decarbonise the country’s electricity supply over the next 15 years. It found that an electricity system based on “proven renewables and increased energy efficiency” is a credible way of meeting the target.

Indy Ref

Scottish Secretary: Independence oil figures out by £15.5billion

The Scottish Government’s oil revenue forecast for the first three years of independence is now out by £15.5 billion, according to the Scottish Secretary. Alistair Carmichael said the latest UK Government analysis showed that 100 days after the referendum, an independent Scotland would have been facing the shortfall following a drop in oil prices. He said “serious questions” now needed to be asked about how the SNP administration “got this so badly wrong”.


Opinion: Reforms only go a short way

The reforms to the oil and gas tax regime announced by the Chancellor and Danny Alexander this week are, of course, welcome. Particularly in light of the Chancellor’s admission that it has been 21 years since the oil and gas industry last received a tax reduction. However, this announcement only goes a short way towards reversing the unexpected and damaging 12% increase in Supplementary Charge tax introduced by Danny Alexander at the 2011 Budget.


Opinion: Another false dawn or a kick start for collaboration

The Treasury’s plan to reform the oil and gas fiscal regime is an interesting and encouraging document, which recognises the importance of the industry, while at the same time acknowledging the need to be more competitive in attracting and promoting capital investment in the UKCS. It has the hallmarks of collaboration, with the Treasury accepting that they must adjust their thinking as to tax receipts from the UKCS, and it is the first time in recent memory, committed to black and white, that ‘we are all in this together’. The Treasury does not publish a document of this importance without it having being very carefully vetted.