Britain’s newly-appointed Prime Minister, David Cameron, has reportedly agreed to release £200 million worth of funds to Scotland to allow it to set up large scale renewable energy based power plants.
Scotland had been demanding the release of these funds which were raised through the North Sea oil and gas industry and are being currently held by government regulator Ofgem (Office of Gas and Electricity Markets). These funds have been kept aside for investments in green energy projects but the Gordon Brown government had refused the Scottish demands to release the same in the past. Now, there seems to be a good understanding between the new British government and the First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, on this issue and the Treasury is said to be considering changing the rules pertaining to collection and distribution of these funds.
Funding for large scale renewable energy power plants in Britain has been a roadblock in the recent past. British Petroleum has slowly withdrawn from its plans to invest in wind energy generation in the country while Royal Dutch Shell sold off its stake in one of the world’s largest wind farms, the London Array — the project was rescued when the Abu Dhabi-based Masdar group bought stake in the project. The economic uncertainty and attractive investments opportunities abroad certainly did not help.
United Kingdom has immense potential in terms of renewable energy resources. The country is gifted with ample wind, tidal and wave energy resources which it can use to generate much more power than it actually requires. According to recent reports, Britain could generate the equivalent of 1 billion barrels of oil a year by utilizing only 29% of its marine energy resource and could even become an electricity exporter to mainland Europe by 2050.
The report considers two scenarios of different resource utilization and predicts the power generation.
…(D)ifferent likely scenarios for growth of the industry with even the most conservative – 13% resource utilisation, producing 78 gigawatts of power at a capital cost of £170bn – which would provide half of the UK’s electricity demand. A more ambitious scenario, using 29% of resources would see 169GW installed at a cost of nearly £433bn and would make Britain a net exporter of electricity.
Scotland would potentially play a major role in this renewable energy revolution. In a study commissioned by a consortium of environmental groups and conducted by an independent engineering consultant various scenarios of Scotland’s own power demands and generation through renewable energy resources. One of the most promising, and ambitious scenarios sees Scotland becoming an exporter of electricity by 2050 by generating as much as 143% of its electricity demand by 2050.
Britain must move towards large scale renewable energy technologies not only because it has obligations due to EU’s renewable energy target for 2020 but also because building clean energy infrastructure serves its own national interest. Being a developed country Britain has moral and legal responsibility to reduce its carbon emissions and the pressure to act on decreasing its carbon footprint would only increase as the world slowly converges on an international climate treaty. Therefore, Britain would do good by accelerating transition to renewable energy-based power and heating systems as it is blessed with substantial resources.
The views presented in the above article are author’s personal views and do not represent those of TERI/TERI University where the author is currently pursuing a Master’s degree.
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