On Thursday 22 April the Parliament will debate an Executive
motion on renewable energy. UNISON is the largest trade union in the Scottish
believes that any proposal to expand the generation of energy from renewable sources
has to be seen in the context of the Scottish energy industry as a whole. This
industry is vital to the Scottish economy and is facing serious challenges.
Scotland supports the expansion of generating capacity through renewable sources
with more challenging targets. We believe the 18% target by 2010 is achievable.
We do not believe the 40% target by 2020 is achievable. The scope for additional
onshore wind power is limited by available sites and likely to be slowed by public
opposition, however misguided that opposition may be. Other technologies remain
unproven and therefore do not, at this time, justify such an optimistic assessment
of their potential.
believes that unrealistic targets for renewables are already diverting government
attention from the need to support clean coal technologies (CCT). We believe that
the current level of UK government funding for CCT is totally inadequate. Even
if renewables can be expanded Scotland still requires baseload generation currently
provided by coal and nuclear power stations.
would therefore argue that the Scottish Executive should adopt a balanced energy
strategy that includes a mix of generating capacity. This would include a larger
element of renewables when proven capacity can be delivered - together with gas,
coal and nuclear power. Without clean coal generation and nuclear power Scotland
will become an importer of energy, mostly gas, from less than secure overseas
sources. A position accurately portrayed in the recent BBC 'If' docudrama.
key stumbling block to the development of a renewable energy industry in Scotland
is the lack of grid capacity in areas where renewable generation is likely to
occur. We remain to be convinced that the reforms in the UK Energy Bill will create
the right incentives for new generation and bring large-scale investment in transmission
networks. Whilst the worst aspects of Ofgem's proposals have rightly been rejected
by the UK government, elements of discrimination against Scotland remain.
Scottish Executive should focus on action to lessen any negative views within
local communities, and to mitigate the environmental impact of wind turbines and
transmission lines. The economics of renewable energy should be better explained
to communities who are being mislead into believing that this is equivalent to
oil exploration in terms of community benefit. Renewable energy is actually more
expensive than other forms of generation. The planning system also needs to be
better resourced so that applications are dealt with more quickly whilst retaining
proper local determination.
Scotland would strongly urge the Executive to apply the Waste Framework Directive
sensibly. Current interpretation of the regulations could bring to an end the
combustion of Waste Derived Fuel produced from sludge at Daldowie and burnt at
Longannet Power Station. This is an environmentally sound method of fuel generation
and its loss would result in extra coal emissions and landfill for the sludge.
conclusion, the Scottish Executive should promote renewable energy whilst recognising
the need for a balanced energy strategy for Scotland.