Want to keep the lights switched on? Vote Yes

I was struck this week by the juxtaposition of the news agendas north and south of the border in relation to energy matters.  On the same day, no less.

First, there was the Liberal Democrat Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, welcoming the multi-million pound acquisition of Horizon Nuclear Power by Hitachi, as an investment which will “play a big role in the growth of the UK economy“.  Which is not quite right.

Because with the SNP in power here, the chances of Hitachi being allowed to build any of the proposed six UK nuclear plants in Scotland are precisely nil.

That same day, planning consent was provided by Highland Council for a huge hydro-electric scheme to be constructed at a cost of £800 million at Glenfinnan, to the north of Loch Lochy.

The Hitachi deal is being heralded as having the potential to contribute to a low-carbon future energy policy for the UK and if I heard correctly, is being proclaimed by David Cameron as being required and desirable in terms of aiding the UK to meet its 2020 target of 20% reduction in carbon emissions.

Meanwhile, the Coire Glas hydro-electric scheme has the potential to enable Scotland to make significant progress to the much more radical and ambitious targets we have set ourselves for generating 80% of our electricity supply from renewable sources.

[UPDATE:  apparently, the 2011 Manifesto raised this target to 100% – telt youse I wisnae an expert…]

And if anyone has detected some hesitation in these assertions, I am happy to admit that the hesitation betrays my lack of detailed knowledge of the ins and outs of energy policy.  Feel free, Greeny types, to correct me, but for once, let’s not focus on the detail and simply rejoice in the vision, for what the dual announcements illuminate in stark relief is the divergence of approach.  Like so much else, energy demonstrates the difference between Scotland and rUK, with quite distinct policy agendas and polar opposite political priorities.

While all around us swirls the heat of claim and counter-claim on issues such as economy, currency, EU membership and defence in terms of the independence debate, surely energy provides a sound reason, made plain with these announcements, to vote yes.  Funny how it has elicited much less analysis and far fewer headlines.

For energy is a key area which shows what we can achieve with the powers we have, but also indicates how much more secure our future can be by voting yes to independence.  With independence, we can cement a no-nuclear future for Scotland and absolutely establish our “too wee, too poor” country as a world class leader in renewables.

Moreover, energy is an area in which we can turn the No camp’s narrative on its head.  In 2014, we can vote to stay put and risk enabling nuclear power stations being built in Scotland or we can vote yes and go it alone to create a secure future which is better for ourselves and for future generations.

The only reason Hitachi is interested in moving into the UK market is because Japan is moving towards a non-nuclear future too.  Another point to hammer home methinks.  They’re only here because no one else wants them and far from being a “multi-billion pound vote of confidence in the UK“, as the Prime Minister claimed, the investment represents a desperate dash to a place of last resort.

And on energy, the only possible antidote the Better Together team might come up with, is that without us and our higher, keener focus on climate change targets and investment in renewable energy sources, the UK might not manage to achieve its targets  Which would be a novel spin on an increasingly familiar refrain, but hardly a compelling reason to stay.

There is also mileage to be gained from one of the crucial differences between the two announcements, relating to the certainty of delivery.  Whether or not you can live with a nuclear future, the Hitachi deal is so couched in caveats and still-to-be made decisions, that it might never get beyond this initial acquisition.  Yet in Scotland, the biggest ever hydro-electric scheme in our history is all but a done deal.  Given the Scottish Government’s penchant for renewables, it is hard to see what might stop it going ahead.

Which opens up a whole new front in indy referendum rhetoric:  if you want to keep the lights switched on in Scotland, vote yes.


9 thoughts on “Want to keep the lights switched on? Vote Yes

  1. Renewables are the way forward. I really enjoy paying for the most expensive form of energy that is produced. Twice.

    • Indeed. Yet England is determined to rely on nuclear power but have only been able to go ahead because they have some half organised arrangement with Japanese company that is being driven out of Japan as Japan, like most other sensible countries, has decided to abandon nuclear power, not only because it is by far most expansive way to power a country but because it is also intrinsicically unstable and dangerous

  2. Spot on.

    The most significant contribution the human race has made to our planet is to shift carbon from the lithosphere to the stratosphere – to the extent that we are now cooking ourselves. All the displacement activity over EU membership, finance, defence, etc. has (deliberately – no, too Machiavellian for our current parliamentarians) obscured the energy crisis which we face in Britain. Energy rich Scotland is vital to the future of our islands, but the greed of the Crown Estate commissioners and the confused approach to energy policy by Westminster is choking the progress of the development of renewable energy sources. It may be that such development is already too late but the smug complacency of Cameron and co. is titanic.

  3. I saw a rough plan of the Hydro scheme,and it looks ideal,using the wind power to uplift the water from Loch Lochy up to the resavior and let the water flow when the need is wanted.Fantastic looking plan.As for nuclear,all I can say is if there is a chance in 10 million of a leak or an accident then that risk is too much.Now wind turbines can be pulled down,anytime we want but a nuclear reactor cant.We would be leaving the danger to our descendants,not the best inheritance for anybody.The tidal power is known to be steady and can be relied upon,with no side effects (that I know of) as is wave power,aye renewables is the safest way forward,no use being stuck with the stagnating Westminster mob.

  4. Good article. I think energy has been an area in which Salmond and the S.G. has a good record. I think renewables have a big future to play as climate change becomes more and more evident. Even today the Republican Governor of New York has backed Obama because of his stance on climate change. There is a lot of opposition to windmills around, but they don’t bother me personally. I would much rather have them than more Dounreay’s anyway. Also, I think wave power, tidal power will become more important than wind power in the future. The hydro-electric scheme sounds interesting. Hopefully it will be approved and be a success.

  5. Nice Piece!

  6. Interesting article, point well made. Our renewables strategy is an absolute good thing, should be shouted from the rooftops!

  7. Nuclear power insights

    Under the current conditions the specific CO2 emission of nuclear power is roughly 80-130 gram CO2/kWh. The nuclear reactor is the only technical component of the nuclear energy system that emits virtually no CO2.

    Hitachi built Fukushima why didn’t the UK get Ratner to build them they would be cheaper!

  8. Pingback: Want to keep the lights switched on? Vote Yes | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

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