By Natalie Deans
‘Action must be taken now,’ was the claims of one MSP in regards to Scotland’s renewable energy industry at Holyrood this week.
SNP energy minister, Fergis Ewing warned the Scottish energy industry is at risk due to ‘mixed messages’ from the UK government. The on-going debate over whether or not off and on shore turbines will damage the tourism industry is affecting the confidence of investors, according to Ewing.
“The industry has enormous potential and to realise this potential it is essential that investors have confidence,” said Ewing. “Over the past weeks I have spoken to many potential investors who say the uncertainty surrounding electricity market reform is starting to affect their investment decisions.”
According to a report devised by the Economy, Transport and Tourism Committee, significant investment is needed due to the reluctance of banks to lend money if the SNP administration is to meet their electricity deadlines by 2020. The report also identified skills training as a potential problem to the Scottish Government’s energy commitments; more science, technology and mathematics skills are needed at all levels.
Currently, the Scottish Government will meet in 2016 to set up an electricity decarbonisation plan for 2030 but speaking as Holyrood debates whether renewable energy targets are achievable, Ewing said plans have to be made now. Not in 2016.
Green Party MSP and member of the Economy, Transport and Tourism committee, Alison Johnstone, called for development of publicly-owned and local renewable energy companies before the debate.
“The reluctance of SNP ministers to explore a publicly-owned renewables company is almost as frustrating as the ill-informed anti-wind attitude of the Tories,” she said. “Everyone agrees Scotland has a natural advantage but the bigger opposition parties in parliament are skewing the debate.”
“Instead of talking about the unproven threat to tourism and the mythical need for nuclear, we should be challenging the government to maximise the benefits for the people,” she adds.