Tuesday, 19 March 2013
The North Disconnect
Less than a year go Alex Salmond was hailing the introduction of the Scotland-Norway interconnector which would link hydro power from Norway with wind energy from Scotland.
The project received £553,000 in a grant from the EU last March and the Scottish European Green Energy Centre also contributed a grant of about £40,000 to support early survey work.
The project company was NorthConnect which is owned by five partners in Norway, the UK and Sweden. The five partners are Agder Energi, E-CO, Lyse, Scottish and Southern Energy and Vattenfall AB.
On the 5th of this month it was reported that Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) had pulled out of the consortium offering the reason of a need to focus on its core markets of GB and Ireland, along with the lack of short-term clarity on the regulatory regime. Then it was said that the remaining partners were fully committed to developing the interconnector.
Now, a fortnight later, it has been announced Vattenfall AB have also subsequently withdrawn.
The chairman of the project, Steven Vass, now believes it is possible the project could be cancelled. Norway's government want to put their state controlled grid operator Statnett in charge of all Norwegian interconnector projects.
The reason the project could very possibly be cancelled is because Statnett has no interest in NorthConnect and therefore may prioritise projects in which it does have a stake - including its North Sea Network (NSN) joint venture with National Grid south of the border in England. NSN proposes to build a line between Northumberland and Western Norway, which would potentially allow the rest of the UK to dominate green energy exporting in the event that Scotland voted for independence.
The National Grid says England and Wales could meet their renewable and carbon emissions targets without any contribution from Scotland.
Where does this leave Alex Salmond? The erection of wind farms is causing more and more unrest within communities; so much so that civil servants are attempting to gag protestors.
Nearer home Angus Council have employed specialists to assess windfarm bids. They have secured £75,000 of government funding which officials say should help speed up the determination process. There has been nearly a five-fold increase in planning bids over just a few years in the county and the first large scale windfarm is now very visible on the Strathmore valley skyline, south of Glamis.
How environmentalists think the devastation of the countryside is beneficial in any way never ceases to astound.
Now that the NorthConnect project seems a non-starter, will the Scottish government start to reduce the vast numbers of windfarms being erected? If England and Wales will be self-sufficient, surely there is no reason to have more wind turbines than necessary for Scotland's use?