HAVING full control over Scotland’s energy resources will be one of the most important benefits of independence

It will allow the Scottish Government not just to manage those resources more efficiently but to ensure that we benefit from them in ways we haven’t been able to in the past because of Westminster’s economic and industrial ideology.

With the transition away from oil and gas now well under way across the globe, Aberdeen and Scotland have to recognise that this industry is facing a future in which decline is the inevitable outcome.

It’s clearly the case then that an independent Scotland will have to rapidly develop the ability to replace oil and gas jobs with equally high-skilled and high-paid ones not just in what will be an entirely new-looking energy sector but in all those sectors which now rely upon oil or gas as a feedstock. By this I mean plastics, pharmaceuticals and many others.

Much of that will mean developing new science and new technologies but that’s exactly what we need to be doing.

It’s also the case that we need to be looking at other energy-related industrial sectors that we could develop here in and around Aberdeen. I regularly point out to people that Scotland once used to build small aircraft and that there are now companies springing up all over the world developing small electric aircraft powered by batteries or hydrogen. Ships and yachts used to be big business here.

Why not again?

Even in areas such as designing and building more efficient domestic and commercial buildings, there are major business opportunities.

We need to get a little more imaginative and a lot more ambitious than we were pre-independence.

The French Government has recently taken 100% control of the energy giant EDF and in doing so said “this gives us every chance of strengthening our energy independence in the years to come. It’s a strategic decision, it’s a strong decision and it’s a necessary decision for the country”.

The French are right. Energy independence is critical and should be a priority in Scotland. Not only does it avoid the dangers we are witnessing today with Russian gas being used both as a weapon and a bargaining chip but it isolates Scotland from the twists and turns of the international market which for a range of reasons has driven both gas and electricity prices sky high.

It needs to be stressed that, for an independent Scotland, achieving energy independence is entirely feasible, but whether or not we get there depends on a number of factors.

The first of these is a recognition that exporting electricity to what will be the remainder of the UK is a liability in that it binds us to the National Grid and all that implies in terms of external market influences on prices and of course connection charges. We need that energy for our own use and it should, as in France and many other advanced countries, be under the control of a state or majority state-owned company. Our peers such as Norway and Denmark operate in this way. Why not us?

The second factor is understanding that Scotland has a resource that is not only effectively inexhaustible and larger than oil and gas has ever been but also relatively easily accessible. That resource is, of course, water, which Scotland is both surrounded on three sides by and which many parts of the country have in huge volumes onshore. This water we can readily – and increasingly cost effectively – convert to green hydrogen which we can use for both industrial and domestic applications and all forms of transportation. It can be produced locally or regionally, is easily stored over very long periods of time in small or large quantities, is price stable and is very scalable.

It’s also exportable and Scotland is uniquely suited to becoming a global hydrogen giant.

Most importantly, it means we would never have to worry about the oil or gas price ever again!

Aberdeen should have a central role in all this but it will require us to exercise significant influence over the universities in particular. There are 19 universities in Scotland. They must be directed to initiate research and development programmes into areas such as electrolysis, fuel cells, synthetic materials to replace hydrocarbon-based ones and even the manufacturing of seawater desalination systems.

The development of long-term, high-value Net Zero technology manufacturing in and around Aberdeen is a huge opportunity that has no chance of happening without independence. If it did have a chance, it would have happened by now.

Independence that brings with it the enabling keys to a bigger and broader economy is what can make this happen.

This article was published as part of a special-edition paper distributed in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire by the Aberdeen Independence Movement. Click HERE to read more of these articles.