Scottish Renewable Energy Projects Threatened by Subsidy Cuts

Source: By Susanna Twidale, Reuters • Posted: Thursday, October 15, 2015

LONDON — Some 14 billion pounds of potential investment in renewable energy projects in Scotland is under threat because of cuts in subsidies by the British government, Scotland’s energy minister said.

Fergus Ewing, Scotland’s Business, Energy, and Tourism minister, said figures from Britain’s Energy and Department for Climate change showed companies had indicated they could invest around 14 billion pounds in renewable projects such as wind farms, in Scotland.

“Much of that is now under threat because of what we can only describe as all out onslaught on renewables by the UK government,” he told Reuters on the sidelines of an industry event on Monday.

Britain has announced a swathe of cuts in renewable energy subsidies.

Scotland already generates around 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources but has a target of 100 percent by 2030.

Ewing also said Scotland must carry out its own research into the development of unconventional shale gas.

“I have not made up my mind (on shale gas) I want to see the evidence,” Ewing said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has promised to go all out for shale gas, hoping to replicate some of the success the of the U.S. shale gas boom, which has cut domestic energy prices and reduced import dependence.

“It has been carried out on an enormous scale in the U.S. and Canada, but the places where it has been carried out, are about as different from where the deposits of unconventional gas are perceived to be in Scotland, as it is possible to be,” Ewing said.

He said some of the proposed shale development sites in Scotland are in densely populated areas unlike the many of shale gas sites in the United States.

The development of shale gas projects has split opinions in Britain, with the central government projecting huge economic benefits, while environmental campaigners have raised concerns about its impact.

Scotland has a moratorium on shale gas extraction which it imposed in January this year.

Last week, the Scottish government also expanded its restrictions on unconventional energy extraction and imposed a moratorium on underground coal gasification.

Swiss chemicals group Ineos has applied for shale gas licenses in Scotland.

(Reporting . Editing by Jane Merriman)