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Analysis: Post-independent Scotland would look to UK on wind

UK: There would be little change in Scottish renewable energy policy if the country becomes independent, according to a document published by the Scottish government's ruling Scottish National Party. However, the view is potentially at odds with that of the UK government.

The document, published in November, outlines how the country would be run if its people vote in favour of independence in a referendum due to be held in September 2014.

Despite Scotland's first minister, Alex Salmond, hoping to make the country the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy, its ambition appears to be tethered to the rest of the UK. The document states there would still be a British energy market in an independent Scotland as the rest of the UK would want to import Scottish renewables as the cheapest method of meeting its renewable energy targets.

"The continuation of a system of shared support for renewables and capital costs of transmission among consumers in Scotland and the rest of the UK is a reasonable consideration for meeting the UK's ongoing green commitments," the document states.

However this is contrary to the views of the UK government. Earlier this year, UK energy and climate secretary Ed Davey warned that it would be looking for the cheapest way of providing energy and that an independent Scotland would find it harder to keep prices competitive.

Scotland would also face competition with Ireland, which has ambitious plans to export renewable energy to the UK. The two governments have signed a memorandum of understanding on an interconnection project.

In response, the Scottish government has said it hopes to set up an energy partnership with the UK government to jointly steer the energy market and ensure Scotland's long-term interests are better served, the paper says. It also plans to introduce a leasing system for offshore and foreshore renewables to replace the current UK system through marine landlord the Crown Estate.

This will ensure that income from leasing does not leak out of Scotland, a spokeswoman from the Scottish government said.

Speaking to Windpower Monthly, several manufacturers have revealed they, and their customers, are nervous at the prospect of independence. Utility/developer SSE has also said it is concerned about the independence referendum.

Earlier this year, Gamesa executive chairman Ignacio Martin said independence could affect the company's plans to build a factory in Scotland. He said: "If Scotland isn't part of the European Community. If Scotland don't use the pound. If, if, if. For sure it will affect the offshore business, but I don't think there will be a major change."

Energy has been a key issue in the independence debate in Scotland. Earlier this year, a group of academics led by David Toke, senior lecturer in energy policy at the University of Birmingham, warned that Scotland would have to abandon its target to get 100% of its electricity from renewables by 2020 as meeting it would require electricity bills to rise by a third.

Currently, the cost of renewable energy subsidies are split across the UK. The academics' warning mirrors that of investment bank Citigroup in 2011 when it advised utilities and other investors that they should "exercise extreme caution in committing further capital to Scotland" due to the risk of being cut off from subsidy streams in England and Wales.

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