ALL independence-minded politicians should be able to answer this question: what is Scotland’s global sustainable competitive advantage that will underpin its economy with a green footprint?

The answer is, of course, abundant natural resources, especially wind, wave and tide.

In a comprehensively researched report by the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE), Scotland’s renewable energy potential is claimed to be several times greater than its total domestic needs for not just electricity, but heat, transport and everything else.

But that’s something the Unionists – especially the Westminster lot – won’t shout about. Scotland stands on the edge of becoming the richest part of the British Isles and they want to hang on to the part of the UK that just keeps on giving. Don’t forget oil.

Only with independence can Scotland utilise its huge carbon-free energy resources to build a strong, more equitable economy, otherwise this will never happen because, as things stand, most renewable generating assets are owned and controlled by non-Scottish entities. The same goes for much of the associated manufacturing and operations. Most of Scotland’s renewable wealth is taken out of the country; a modern-day banana colony.

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So we need to turn the discussion about Scotland’s future economy on its head. While valuable contributions from bodies such as the RSE are helpful within the scope of their remits, they miss the elephant in the room. Scotland’s economic future must be underpinned by renewable energy; it’s the country’s ace card.

Rather than something that will simply “keep the lights on” the harvesting and exploitation of renewable energy should become Scotland’s major industry.

As renewable energy is Scotland’s key competitive advantage, it is the foundation of Scotland’s future economy, not only supplying all domestic needs but also becoming our main export.

Imagine then an independent Scotland taking back control of its resources and essential infrastructure, creating a framework within which private and community enterprise can flourish.

What might that look like by the time children born today reach middle age? Here’s a taster.

Christmas approaches and there’s the customary last-minute rush to furnish the dinner table with goodies. Greengrocers’ shelves are stacked with “out of season” produce but the labels on the strawberry punnets say “produce of Scotland”; some are tagged “grown in Shetland”.

Crofting counties in the Highlands and Islands are undergoing a transformation as greenhouses based on the pattern of the National Botanic Garden of Wales are springing up on land that previously struggled to support a few livestock.

Abundant renewable electricity from nearby marine and wind sources provides sufficient heat and light for year-round horticulture. Some have been located near hydrogen/synthetic fuel production plants to utilise their waste heat. Scotland is well on its way to eliminating food miles. The centre of gravity of Scotland’s economy is moving north as the country journeys towards energy and food self-sufficiency.

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The drive towards a carbon-free economy has set off an infrastructure building programme fit for the 22nd century. Scotland’s electrical transmission and distribution network has been strengthened to better move power between intermittent renewable generators, pumped storage hydro-electric stations and hydrogen plants. Trans-border high-voltage interconnectors export power to mainland Europe as well as our neighbours down south.

With the electrification of Scotland’s rail network and the rollout of hydrogen filling stations, land transportation is now pretty much import and carbon-free. Across the country manufacturing industry prospers as Scotland’s industry captures an increasing portion of marine and wind projects.

The oil and gas supply chain is repurposed to build and operate hydrogen and synthetic fuel production plants.

While the importation of some key components required to build renewable energy plants continues, Scottish-headquartered companies are designing and manufacturing an increasing percentage of projects.

Strategically targeted inward investment in the manufacture of high-value parts such as turbine blades, drive trains and generators is bearing fruit, while state support, in the form of grants and contracts, is helping to build the foundations of new enterprises based on university/industry R&D (note that the current EU state aid rules are an impediment to this).

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Next to the economy, the recently created Scottish Department of Natural Resources is the most important arm of government. A joined-up approach has replaced the current piecemeal approach to energy, environment and economy. Electrical and gas power trading has been brought back under state control but run by competent industry leadership.

A Scottish National Generating company executes projects at its own hand while privately owned assets are subject to shareholding regulation, which prevents them falling into the hands of foreign ownership. The current phoney retail power market is replaced by a nationwide pricing structure.

Green sustainable energy now underpins Scotland’s economy. Per head its citizens are, by median, now the richest of the four nations that used to make up the UK.