SCOTLAND requires urgent powers on energy policy to set up a world-leading energy industry, which has been stifled by the UK energy strategy since the 1980s by both Labour and Conservative governments

The energy strategy looks at four areas of interest: Energy Infrastructure, Electric Vehicles, Autonomous Vehicles and Green Shipping.

Scotland’s North Sea oil industry is a missed opportunity, with the UK Government favouring privatisation over a more Norwegian approach which has been shown to be successful. What Scotland must focus on now is capturing the wealth of renewables, of which it has the potential to be a world leader. It is fast becoming “business as usual” for renewable energy in Scotland, with private companies operating a monopoly of exploitation. A good example of this in Scotland is NorthConnect.

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NorthConnect is a group that has proposed a 400-mile HVDC (high-voltage, direct current) interconnector to be laid across the floor of the North Sea, connecting Scotland (Peterhead) to Norway (Samnanger). This route will be the first to connect Scotland to mainland Europe, which could potentially export Scotland’s large resource of renewable energy.

SSE was originally in the NorthConnect group. However, the Norwegian Government was unwilling to contemplate the interconnector project if it would be privately owned at the UK side. As the UK has no national energy company, the project is now owned entirely by Norwegian and Swedish companies. The same year SSE dropped out of the project, they were fined a record £10.5 million by regulator Ofgem for mis-selling gas and electricity to the public.

The paper identifies the need to modernise Scotland’s energy grid, which has seen great success. Orkney is home to the UK’s first grid-scale battery and the Isle of Eigg has seen energy storage schemes provide 98 per cent of power on the island from a renewable source. These systems should be exported across Scotland’s grid to better capture the renewable wealth and lower the price of energy for consumers.

READ: Common Weal's 20-page discussion paper in full

Fuel poverty in Scotland leaves nearly 900,000 people unable to properly heat their homes, with the ”Big Six” energy companies in the UK all raising their prices by around 10 per cent in 2017. As this happens, the profits of these energy companies have risen tenfold since 2007, marking one of the major signs of a total failure in UK energy policy.

The paper identifies Germany as going through a re-municipalisation of its energy supply, but in reality this model is seen right across Europe, including in Norway. The paper identifies the need to capture this trend of municipalisation and see it brought to Scotland. This allows the local energy companies the ability to control their local energy strategy to provide bespoke energy services to their constituents, but with a national strategy developed by the Scottish Energy Agency.

Public ownership, however, doesn’t automatically mean the public have a say in how the business is run. The Royal Bank of Scotland is currently 80 per cent public ownership, and after its capitulation in the financial crash and the public bail-out, it has continued to profit the few rather than the many. Once Scotland creates a national company with decentralised control, then we can begin to develop policy for the people.

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The policies detailed in the paper cannot be fully developed by Scotland today. One of two constitutional options is required: developing a devolution settlement which sees power over energy policy devolved, or for Scotland to become a fully independent state. Whatever the answer, Scotland needs a bespoke deal to end the decades of failure in UK energy policy.