Devolution is driving force behind UK renewable energy agenda
24 January 2013
A new study concludes that devolution has played a significant role in the expansion of renewable energy deployment in the UK, with Scotland leading the way on renewable energy delivery ahead of Northern Ireland and Wales.
This is the finding of a two-year research project undertaken by Cardiff University, Queens University Belfast, Robert Gordon University and Birmingham University. The collaborative project seeks to examine how devolution has affected the development of wind, wave, solar and biomass energy technologies.
"The level of renewable energy capacity in place prior to devolution in 1998/1999 was low. In general, capacity has expanded most significantly since 2002-2003." says Dr Richard Cowell, Principal Investigator of the study at Cardiff University's School of Planning and Geography.
"We can point to a range of actions by the devolved governments – especially Scotland – that have shown significant support to renewable energy in the UK. The Scottish Government has led in using its powers to give greater support to wave and tidal power technologies, while Northern Ireland has used their powers – greater than Scotland's – to facilitate small-scale renewables and bio-fuel processes.
The Energy Minister for Scotland, Fergus Ewing, added:
"This report underlines the importance of the flexibility which Scotland has over energy policy, and the effective use to which that flexibility has been put since devolution. Successive Scottish Governments have taken distinct approaches where necessary – these have built upon the advantages presented by our huge renewable resource, and helped Scotland establish itself as a hub for investment and a byword for emerging renewable technologies.
"Scotland has hit the natural lottery twice, first with oil and gas and now with our green energy resources. We have astounding green energy potential and vast natural resources with about a quarter of Europe's wind and tidal energy and 10% of its wave power. Windfarms and other forms of clean green energy create opportunities for communities across Scotland, enhance energy security and are already delivering jobs and investment, and the Scottish Government is determined to ensure communities all over Scotland reap the benefit from renewable energy."
To a lesser extent, Wales and Northern Ireland have also helped promote renewable energy. The Welsh Government's use of strategic spatial zoning has helped pull in a larger volume of on-shore wind development interest than could be expected in a comparable region of England. Yet concentration of these developments has triggered public opposition and political conflict. A key feature of the devolution settlement is that the devolved governments have different sets of powers that are relevant to the delivery of renewable energy development, with the Northern Ireland Executive possessing the most powers and the Welsh Government the least.
Read the full report here:http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/cplan/research/delivering-renewable-energy/dissemination-and-user-engagement