Earlier this year Brodies hosted a series of business breakfasts in association with The Sunday Times covering ‘hot topic’ issues such as the devolution of further powers to the Scottish Parliament, EU membership, infrastructure and energy. These sessions allowed panelists with a wide variety of views to present their arguments to an audience of senior figures from the public, private and third sectors. Following our breakfast discussion entitled Power of Scotland – what does the future hold for Scotland’s energy sector? we invited two of the panelists, Niall Stuart, Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables, and Tom Pickering, Director of INEOS Upstream, to write blogs for us sharing their thoughts respectively on the future of the Scottish renewables sector and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Read Tom’s contribution below:
The Scottish Government has been notably successful in its adoption of renewable energy over the past 20 years. Scotland will continue to reap the benefits of this farsighted strategy in terms of jobs, environmental advantages and the availability of green energy for both the domestic and export markets.
However, green energy is not yet so developed as a sector that it can be relied upon alone. Only by having a healthy balance of energy technologies can Scotland hope to mitigate some of the problems that I foresee in the near future.
Even with improvements in weather forecasting, green energy is inherently intermittent and unreliable. When the wind doesn’t blow Scotland moves overnight from being a net exporter of energy to an importer, reliant on England to keep lights on and homes heated.
In addition, Scotland lacks much of the baseload and flexible provision that England has, a situation made worse by the recent closure of Longannet.
Even, before the closure of Longannet, Scotland was importing electricity from England one day in five, and on seven days a year required English electricity for a full 24 hours.
Scotland’s move away from coal and nuclear power means that providing a non-intermittent and flexible source of power must fall to gas.
Scotland is home to accessible and abundant supplies of natural gas that can power our modern lifestyles and the strong Scottish petrochemicals industry for many years to come. Shale gas has revolutionised the energy markets in the US and we now have the opportunity to do the same here.
Scotland’s expertise in oil and gas can also allow gas to be extracted safely. The new industry could create tens of thousands of new jobs, enhance energy security and bring huge overall economic benefits to Scotland.
Both the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Committee on Climate Change recognise the role that gas can play as the least polluting fossil during the transition to a carbon neutral economy.
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INEOS believes that the reality of Scotland’s energy situation mandates the widespread use of Shale gas.
Even though there has been much misinformation put out about Shale gas, it will play a crucial role in ensuring we have sufficient and reliable gas supplies and play an influential part in our energy mix for years to come.
When it comes time to take a final decision on Shale gas extraction, the Scottish Government needs to follow an evidence-based approach, evaluating what is best for the economy and for the Scottish people.
Blog by Tom Pickering INEOS Upstream, Operations Director