“Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t”, mused Polonius, in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
Four centuries on, the London-based decision to blow £1.3 billion of consumers’ money on a grid link/wind farm in Shetland, instead of a new £105 million, gas power station, is also madness. Why on earth would Westminster permit such folly?
On a windy day, Scotland already has more than double the renewable electricity needed to supply its winter peak demand, with enough in the pipeline to more than double that.
The SIC’s ‘Grand Plan’, alone, will add nearly the same again, making a total of seven times Scotland’s peak demand. There will be much more. We are to become the “Saudi Arabia of renewable energy.”
However, the industry could neither survive in its present form, nor expand without the huge energy market south of the border. Renewable subsidies, additional transmission lines and backup will cost Anglo-Welsh consumers tens of billions per year. Energy jobs will migrate northward. No problem, it seems; at least, as long as we remain part of the union.
Shetland will soon have a grid link and several large, industrial wind farms. However, the SIC plans further grid links and over twenty Viking Energy’s worth of renewable energy.
Scotland – especially, Shetland – will thus be dependent on Westminster largesse. Could that continue with independence?
Existing contracts would be honoured but will soon begin to expire. Scottish CO2 emissions would no longer be the UK’s concern and in the absence of a special deal, new projects and refurbishments would be excluded from UK renewables auctions. Future market access would be negotiable and every concession would require another, in return.
Scottish renewable energy would no longer be subsidised by UK consumers. All costs will be included when weighing foreign energy imports against UK developments e.g. nuclear and UK jobs will assume much greater importance than now.
Come the referendum this will be highlighted by ‘Project Fear’. Scots are canny folk, unlikely to vote for penury. But who knows, they may ignore the doomsters and vote for independence, anyway. If so, what then?
Shetland has been consistently pro-union. Moreover, its colossal commitment to renewable energy would make Scottish independence without a special energy arrangement unthinkable. Once again, Shetlanders would surely vote ‘No’. However, that would not save them, for a national ‘Yes’ vote would be potentially ruinous.
The LibDem-dominated SIC would then be forced to seek a special deal, autonomy, as they did with Jo Grimond in 1978. Westminster, having established a self-determination of peoples precedent in the Falkland Islands (1982), would agree.
Shetland’s oil industry, emissions and renewable energy would remain British. Ditto for Orkney. Both would become UK Crown Dependencies.
Here sits, perchance, the ‘method in Westminster’s madness’:
“Saudi Arabia of renewable energy? By all means. ‘Give ‘em plenty of rope to hang themselves’, eh!”