Blaming Longannet’s closure on the UK government is nothing but cheap nationalist spin.
Differential grid charges are not new and do not represent a fiendish plot against Scotland. They merely reflect the actual cost of transmission. They are designed to encourage the generation of electricity close to centres of consumption. This is a rational and laudably green aim which one would expect the Scottish Government to share.
Differential grid charges are not the reason Longannet is closing early because other forms of generation in Scotland such as wind and hydro cope perfectly well with these grid charges.
Were the UK Government to remove differential grid charges for Longannet, it would represent a massive subsidy to one of Europe’s largest coal power plants. Its emissions have effectively made the aging plant at Longannet uneconomic and led to cross-party agreement for its scheduled closure in 2020. Again, one would expect the Scottish Government to cheer the fact that Scotland will now be spared five-years’ worth of pollution from the country’s single biggest source of climate emisisons.
The SNP has never had a properly thought-through energy policy where security of supply and keeping costs down are the priorities. Instead policy has been made on the hoof of nationalist campaigning. It has been cobbled together from fashionable green spin about renewables and the imperative to grab as much subsidy from Westminster as possible for Scottish ”economic development”. As a result Scotland is now hosting two-thirds of the UK’s onshore wind turbines while the Scottish Government refuses to replace aging thermal and nuclear power stations.
This has led to the entirely predictable situation where we are producing far more electricity than we need, or the grid can cope with, when the wind is blowing hard. When wind conditions are less ideal, we have to import electricity from England. No modern first world government in its right mind would choose to rely on intermittent wind energy without ensuring sufficient back-up generation as well as grid and interconnector capacity were available, but this is exactly what the SNP has done.
In the coming decades, Scotland will become ever more dependent on imported electricity. The overriding need for energy security will make leaving the union much trickier, if not impossible. The single-minded pursuit of wind energy has cost Scotland its energy independence. For the SNP it is an own goal with potentially catastrophic consequences.