Scotland should abandon wind for shale gas, says academic

A leading academic has said that Scotland is too focused on wind power and, should the country become independent from the rest of UK, it would end up exporting wind energy at a loss.

In a submission to a renewable energy inquiry at the Scottish Parliament, Jane Bower said Scotland is pursuing a “headlong dash” for wind power in a bid to meet “very impractical” targets of 100 per cent energy generation from renewable sources by 2020.

Bower, who set up the Centre for Entrepreneurship at the University of Aberdeen and is a former Professor of Enterprise Management at Dundee University, said: “One of the problems of the current, headlong dash for an antiquated and inefficient technology, wind turbines, is that we will have such a surplus of wind capacity by 2020 that we will be very expensively oversupplied for many years.

“We would be unable to take advantage of the many new technologies such as tidal power which are currently under development.

“There is now a real possibility that Scotland may become independent. Why would an independent England – or any other country – buy expensive Scottish wind power when it could generate much cheaper electricity using shale gas, or import cheap nuclear from France?”

She highlighted shale gas in particular as an option Scotland should seriously consider instead of wind power. England has reserves of shale gas in Lancashire but the exploration work that has so far been carried out has been beset by public and often governmental opposition. Last year an independent inquiry by European seismic experts concluded that tremors in Lancashire were almost certainly caused by the ‘fracking’ procedure used in shale gas drilling.

It is not known what shale gas reserves lie under Scottish ground, but land ownership rules in the UK mean that the country is unlikely to see the drilling free-for-all that has revolutionised the energy market in the US.

Niall Stuart, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, said Bower’s view on shale gas “would mean simply sticking our heads in the sand and failing to face up to the economic, environmental and moral imperative to reduce our carbon emissions and tackle climate change”.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Scotland produces 40 per cent of the UK’s renewable electricity and with the continued investment we are witnessing, Scotland’s energy will continue to be used across the UK and Europe in all future constitutional circumstances, including independence.”

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