Scotland’s decision to spurn independence in favour of continuing the Union is a boost for UK renewables, according to Ernst & Young.
The ‘No’ campaign won with 55% of the vote and the decision to keep the United Kingdom together removes one headache for the sector, the consultancy said.
“The cost of subsidising renewable energy has traditionally been spread across the UK. Today’s result is positive in that Scotland now won’t be left to pay the lion’s share of subsidies given that this is where most of renewable energy is generated,” said Ben Warren, environmental finance leader for EY UK & Ireland.
“The renewables sector still has to face the difficult choices that the new contract for difference (CfD) feed-in tariff regime, the threat of budgetary constraints and further solar subsidy revisions bring, as well as fatigue from constant policy tinkering. And with the current levels of energy market reform underway, the UK’s energy sector was not looking forward to having to digest the impact of an independent Scotland,” added Warren.
“We know how prolonged policy uncertainty can impact the attractiveness and viability of renewables investment and cause project delays. The UK fell to 7th place in the latest Renewable Country Attractiveness Index (RECAI) and we will be reviewing its position moving forward,” said Warren.
In other reaction to the referendum results, Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party, which backed the ‘Yes’ vote said: “I congratulate the Yes campaigners in their positive, hopeful campaign that attracted so many to a message of real change. Despite the result, however, it is clear that real, significant constitutional change is now certain – in Scotland, and the rest of the UK.”
Niall Stuart, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, said that while the UK balance of powers between Holyrood and Westminster had served the country well, more was needed.
“But harder challenges lie ahead as we seek to reach the country’s target of generating the equivalent of all the power we consume by 2020. That is why Scottish Renewables is calling for a new joint Scottish and UK Government energy policy that balances the interests of Scotland within a single GB energy market; a more open and accountable energy regulator; our islands connected up to the grid and coordinated investment by the UK and Scottish Governments to support our flourishing marine energy sector,” added Stuart.
Mark Kenber, CEO of The Climate Group, said Scotland has shown what can be achieved with a strong push for the low carbon.
“Last year alone, Scotland received 46% of its electricity from renewable energy,” he said
“The leadership Scotland shows is exactly what we need from regional governments in tackling climate change, and now that it will remain part of the union we hope that Scotland will continue to set a clear example on the benefit low carbon technologies can provide, both in terms of sustainable resources and economic growth,” he added.