Renewable Energy Ambitions, Independence & Donald Trump – An Interview with Alex Salmond
We were fortunate enough to have some time with Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond where we discussed a broad range of topics from Scotland’s ambitious renewable energy targets and North Sea oil & gas to Scottish independence and Donald Trump.
In the interview, Alex discusses:
* How Scotland will achieve its ambitious renewable energy targets. * The impact North Sea oil and gas revenues would have on an independent Scotland. * How Scotland can become the green energy capital of Europe. * Donald Trumps recent tantrum over offshore wind energy. * The impact Independence would have on the Scottish economy. * Why companies are continuing to invest in Scotland’s renewable energy sector. * Why Scotland would establish an oil fund and how it would be used. * Why the shale revolution will not affect investment in Scottish renewables. * The recent partnership between Scotland and Abu Dhabi. * How Scotland will achieve its ambitious renewable energy targets.
Alex Salmond is the First Minister of Scotland and head of the Scottish National Party. He is a champion of green energy and has a vision to transform Scotland into a renewable energy powerhouse whilst aggressively reducing the country’s carbon emissions.
Interview conducted by James Stafford of Oilprice.com
Oilprice.com: If Scotland manages to gain its independence it would receive a 90% geographical share of North Sea oil and gas fields based on a division under international maritime law, roughly 81% of current oil and gas receipts, worth between $9.67 – $19.34 billion annually. Is this income crucial to the SNP’s future economic policies?
Alex Salmond: Even without our offshore oil and gas reserves, Scotland currently has the third highest output per head in the UK, after London and the South-East. And when oil and gas output is included, Scotland’s output per head is 15% above the UK average.
Energy is important to Scotland’s economy. We have world class companies operating in the global oil and gas supply chain while we will benefit from Scotland’s second energy windfall in renewable energy where we have around a quarter of Europe’s potential offshore wind and tidal energy and some 10% of its wave energy resource.
Oilprice.com: What plans do you have for investing this revenue back into Scotland?
Alex Salmond: In contrast to other oil rich nations, successive UK Governments have failed to take the action necessary to ensure that future generations benefit from the economic windfall from Scottish oil and gas. An independent Scotland would use its oil and gas reserves far more responsibly. Specifically, the Scottish Government would establish an oil fund, once fiscal conditions allow. The development of an oil fund for Scotland would promote economic responsibility and stability. Revenues could be invested, rather than spent on current expenditure, during good financial times, and could counteract the effects of economic downturns.
Oilprice.com: You have stated that there is no chance of any new nuclear power plants being built in Scotland. Does this anti-nuclear stance go as far as shutting down current nuclear power plants? I saw that nuclear power currently provides up to 33% of Scotland’s electricity generation needs – how soon would you hope to close the plants down, and where would you find the extra power?
Alex Salmond: We have always been clear that as long as the safety case can be made we are supportive of the possible life extension of existing nuclear power stations but that we are opposed to the development of new nuclear build in Scotland. New build nuclear power is vastly expensive and prone to delay – and shut downs in recent times have meant they have not been meeting 40 per cent of Scotland’s energy needs. We do not support subsidies for new nuclear.
Nuclear power will also leave a legacy of waste and vast decommissioning costs for the next generation of Scots – we will not add to the issues of decommissioning by building new nuclear plants in Scotland. The legacy we must leave future generations is a world where invention and innovation is used to harness the earth’s natural resources sustainably. And it is in wind, wave and tidal energy, and in carbon capture and storage, where Scotland has strong competitive advantages, both in terms of capacity and expertise. This is where it makes economic sense to concentrate our efforts, and that is what we are doing.
Oilprice.com: Scotland is famously doing very well in achieving its renewable energy goals with provisional generation statistics confirming that 2011 was a record year for renewable generation in Scotland, up 28.1 % from the previous record in 2009. Your well publicized target is 100% renewable electricity by 2020. How are you coming along with that? Is this figure really achievable?