Iain Dale quizzes Alex Salmond on Scottish independence
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Sam Taylor, chief executive of the Pro-Union think tank These Islands, has speculated that people living in Scotland would see their spending power drop by £250-a-year should the country leave the UK. According to the latest report of These Islands, electricity bills in an independent Scotland would increase by about 35 percent — an extra £250 per year on the average bill.
The organisation said that Scotland, as of now, exports huge quantities of electricity to England and Wales for which the country receives substantial net subsidies and support flow.
Mr Taylor wrote in The Times: “Various subsidy mechanisms top-up — or guarantee — the price at which output can be sold to a level with an adequate return.
“The costs of these subsidies are socialised across all GB bill payers.”
The report also said 40 percent of GB spending on transmission is expected to occur in Scotland over the next five years.
Scotland actually produces more electricity than it uses, including a substantial amount from fossil fuels and nuclear energy.
In 2019, renewables accounted for 61 percent of electricity generated in Scotland, nuclear 25 percent, and gas and oil 13 percent.
The think tank estimates the annual net flow into Scotland totals at least £1.2 billion per annum — hence the £250 increase in energy bills a year for Scots.
The Pro-Union advocate said the UK will never keep on investing in Scotland to such an extent should the country quit the UK.
In 2014, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy published an official statement which said: “In the event of independence, the integrated GB market could not continue in its current form.
“When purchasing power from an independent Scottish state, the continuing UK is unlikely to be prepared to continue to make additional financial contributions to what would be a separate country, over and above the market price for the energy in question.”
The UK Government previously claimed that “staying in the UK would keep future energy bills for Scottish households up to £189-a-year lower.”
Professor Euan Phimister, from the University of Aberdeen, explained prior to the 2014 Scottish independence referendum that an increase in energy bills is inevitable in Scotland and in the UK as a whole in the aftermath of an independence vote.
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He told the BBC: “Bills are going to rise in all cases due to increased subsidy to renewables and nuclear (in the UK case), replacement of infrastructure and of power plants which are coming offline due to environmental regulations. How much they will rise is ultimately uncertain.”
To solve the problem, Scotland could trade its renewable electricity with EU member states so as to offset the costs of supporting renewables.
Scotland currently produces renewable electricity equivalent to its annual consumption, but some of this is exported, meaning it uses significant amounts of non-renewable electricity as well.
In 2020, 56% of the electricity consumed in Scotland came from renewable sources.
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