Set against that daily energy reality in much of rural Scotland, the challenge of reducing our collective hydrocarbon footprint seems rather more daunting than Mr Clark’s latest prescriptions allow. And it’s questionable whether these everyday dilemmas have been helped or hindered by the strategic behaviour of the two companies that have dominated the Scottish electricity market for generations. Both Scottish Power and SSE were dispatched into the private sector as vertically integrated suppliers. They generate electricity, distribute it and sell it to millions of end users, such as you and me. When they acquired fresh regional supply markets in England, their millions of customers grew bigger still. Now, though, these numbers are beginning to slide as consumers seek out more competitive tariffs. And in Scotland, there are signs that for both businesses future investment priorities lie elsewhere. Take offshore wind. The Spanish-owned Scottish Power has no commitment to building any generation capacity offshore anywhere in Scotland. It has built offshore capacity in England, is developing projects in Germany and France and has a 50 per cent stake in a 1,500-megawatt array off the Massachusetts coast in the United States, with a further project planned for North Carolina. SSE, having completed the 500MW Greater Gabbard field off the Suffolk coast with a German partner in 2013, reviewed its entire commitment to offshore the following year. It still plans to press ahead with the Beatrice field in the outer Moray Firth, but other plans, including the Sea Green project off the Fife coast and another big array off Islay, are all on the back burner. What either is doing about Mr Clark’s call for improved battery technology is anyone’s guess. Perversely, the Dutch owner of that Lochluichart onshore wind farm is developing battery technology, with Mitsubishi, of Japan, to build the largest battery system in Europe. But not in Scotland. In Germany.
Times 26th July 2017 read more »