Scotland Poised to Claim Benefits of Green Energy Opportunity

Mr Salmond will deliver the keynote address at the Energy Institute Energy Challenge Conference in Aberdeen this morning.  Mr Salmond will say:

"Scotland has won the natural lottery for the second time. We have in our natural resources of wind, wave, tidal and indeed clean hydrocarbon power, a comparative advantage in just about every energy technology which will dominate this century. Together, and with the right approach, I have no doubt we have the capacity to change Scotland and the world for the better.

"Today, I want to talk about what is possible for Scotland as we enter a new and pressing period for energy production and use.

"I have no doubt that the decisions we take now will decide whether we are world-leaders or also rans;  whether we move forward into a new era of clean technology with all the benefits in terms of jobs and exports that can bring.

"Energy is Scotland's opportunity and Scotland's challenge. That is why we must, as a nation, be energy wise and make decisions that will benefit us today and for the long-term, decisions that our children and their children can be proud of.

"The bottom line is that I want a future Scotland with renewable generation in our communities, not nuclear waste convoys on our roads. And that means a Scotland today that invests in our strengths and our potential - community and offshore wind, carbon-capture, bio-mass, new hydro, tidal, wave and solar power.

"In virtually all of these technologies we have a natural or comparative advantage. In some of them we have a world lead.

"Our environmental ambitions are integral to a better future for Scotland. It means improved economic prospects through new skills, more jobs, and an increasingly efficient and extensive public transport infrastructure.

"That's why building a greener future for Scotland is central to success. We need to take a principled stand, because it's what Scotland needs - for our environment, for our economy, for our wellbeing.

"In my own constituency, at Peterhead, we have the prospect of the world's first commercial scale carbon capture power station. This is world-leading technology and an energy solution that presents us with an opportunity to generate cleaner power from our still vast remaining oil and gas reserves.

"At Mitsui-Babcock in Renfrewshire, solutions for the cleaner burning of coal are being produced, with the real prospect that this technology, already used to reduce emissions in the fast-expanding economies of China and India, will actually be used in our own country.

"So much potential, such a wealth of opportunity - opportunity I have no doubt a Scottish government would seize.

"In the world of movies, there are the Oscars, that celebrate success on the silver screen - and the 'Razzies' which salute the worst Hollywood has to offer!

"Today, there are some well deserved energy Oscars, but let me offer three'Razzies'.

"The first for obstruction, must go to Ofgem for their discriminatory charges for connection to the grid - £20 per kilowatt in the north of Scotland, a £6 subsidy in central London.  The locational pricing model which sees the centres of population as the place to encourage the production of power is bad economics and ruinous for the environment.

"The second, for delay, goes to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor. It's time for a decision on the system of financial support for carbon capture. Our world lead in this technology is at least 18 months - we should not be dissipating it.

"And it will be announced today that I have secured a Commons debate on this subject, next Tuesday, to attempt to force the pace of decision making.

"The government has pushed the pace on nuclear and dragged its heels on clean carbon. I believe their priorities are completely wrong.

"Is nuclear safe? No. Not safe enough. From Windscale to Dounreay, we have seen at least one major incident at a nuclear power plant each and every decade.

"Is nuclear cheap? No. Not as cheap as the renewable alternatives. With clean up costs running at £90 billion on the latest estimates and billions invested on nuclear research and on construction, nuclear is a never ending financial liability.

"Is nuclear carbon free? No. The nuclear fuel, uranium, can only be recovered from an extensive mining and industrial process. And that produces CO2 and other greenhouse gases.

"The third Razzie goes to ourselves - all of us in public service in Scotland. We have been endowed with the most magnificent array of a potential energy portfolio.

"All we have to do is to devise a way to bring our energy abundance to the marketplace of those who are energy starved.

"And yet we have blundered into the Beauly Denny enquiry without thinking through what we have to do to unblock our energy potential in a reasonable timescale. If Tom Johnston had approached the battle for hydro power as we are facing the challenge of the new technologies there would not be a single hydro station in Scotland.

"We haven't even seriously engaged with the real scale of what could be achieved over the next generation. We should be thinking not in terms of just how we produce 4, 6, 8 gigawats of clean power enough for Scotland's requirements.

"We should be thinking of how we can produce 10, 20, 40 GW enough to make as serious contribution to Europe's energy shortage.

"And to do that we have to devise the method of economically transporting that power from the energy rich to the power poor, not by interconnectors over the Cheviots but by electricity supergrids to the Continent.

"If the people of Scotland trust me to be their next First Minister there will be a step change in our attitude to energy production.

"Under my leadership, Scotland will not take a step backwards to the nuclear age, but will instead take strides to become the pre-eminent location for clean energy research, development and delivery in Europe.

"This has to be a government and nation wide commitment.

"The scale of the challenge facing Scotland, if we are to turn our lead at the first corner into success at the end of this technology race, is shown by the commitment now being made elsewhere.

"And remember the prize is not only low cost, clean energy, but well-paid, high skill jobs, in all parts of our country.

"It was recently announced that Norway is to set up a fund to support and strengthen their nation's efforts in renewable energy and energy efficiency. With investment of £800 million this year and next, the fund will yield an estimated £70 million a year, every year, to support increased production and use of bio energy, wind power, small-scale hydro-power and increased energy efficiency.

"With this fund as a springboard, Norwegian companies will be given a significant edge in these crucial future markets.

"Scotland must respond or we will fail once again to maximise the benefit from our energy windfall.

"And I am delighted to say that I have secured a commitment from Ofgem that the £50 million lying in their accounts from the fossil fuel levy will be released on request to the Scottish Executive.

"Scotland should be at the forefront of Europe's green energy revolution. That is why I will make the creation of an EU-wide Renewable and Clean Carbon Energy Research Centre, based in Scotland, a central focus for an SNP led Scottish government.

"Aberdeen, with its expertise and experience in offshore technologies, would be the ideal location for such a centre.

"In the first 100 days of an SNP government, Scottish ministers will begin a series of meetings with the Commission, the UK government and with our partners and friends across the continent to deliver this project for our nation.

"The creation of this new research centre can help keep Scotland to the fore in these technologies, but we must also develop new ways of supporting our innovators and turning expertise and research into successful, market leading products.

"As First Minister I want to see Scotland take the lead in providing the engineering solutions that allow for the full exploitation of these clean energy sources.

"Our nation led the technological charge that drove forward the industrial revolution, let us today determine to lead once again the new green revolution.

"We must think big about what is possible with small, targeted sums of money. Scotland's innovations have been key to much of our economic success in the past, and there are still examples of Scots at home and abroad carrying on this tradition.

"We have looked at the lessons of the $10 million X prize, which opened the door to commercial space travel, and the $50K MIT challenge, which has spawned hundreds of successful small businesses, and propose the creation of a specific incentive for green energy innovation.

"I will therefore establish the first £5 million Saltire prize with a challenge to Scottish and international scientists to design and develop the answers we need to take forward wind, wave and tidal technologies and deliver workable commercial scale generators - for our communities or around our shores.

"We have a shared responsibility to make the right decisions; the choices that will deliver the best future for ourselves, our families and our communities.

"And while decisions on big plant generation and investment are crucial, they are only part of the picture. We each have a responsibility in our own homes and communities.

"The Scottish Executive has made a small start in supporting community and home micro-generation schemes - but there is plenty of opportunity to do more.

"I believe we can put renewable generation into the heart of every Scottish community. In government we will put in place the financial support mechanism to enable 1 million Scottish households to take advantage of home energy generation or energy saving schemes.

"I want to see every school generating a proportion of their energy from clean, green sources.

"At the heart of our communities, from wind turbines on the scout hut to solar heating on the church roof, the opportunity is there to be seized.  If we have the ambition.

"We all have a part to play in meeting the challenge of global warming but as a country Scotland can become a beacon nation for renewable and clean carbon power.

"We have a once in a generation opportunity to move away from the mistakes of the past and to put Scotland at the forefront of a new wave of potentially planet saving technologies.

"We have the technical expertise - as we see here today - now all we need is the determination to succeed and the leadership to deliver."

Note: Mr Salmond will deliver his address at the Energy Institute Conference, Marcliffe Hotel, Aberdeen, on Thursday at 9.40am.

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