Monday, 27 February 2012

Everything Is Connected – to London.

Everything’s connected, especially when it comes to the Crown Estates, Westminster and Ofgem. These entities recently announced that they view the feasibility of a new subsea “around Britain” interconnector to be used for the transmission of electrical energy, as self evident.

The Crown Estates report, “East Coast Transmission Network: Technical Feasibility Study” confirmed the practicality of an offshore transmission system to move energy from as far north as Shetland to London, from where it could be sold on to European states.

With peak oil having arrived and global economies under strain under of diminishing resources, we can increasingly expect more items to switch from fossil fuel to electricity as their base energy unit. This will apply to everything from home heating to transportation. Electricity will become the primary lifeblood of tomorrow’s economies.

The cost of this Crown Estate’s proposed transmission line alone would be just shy of £5 billion by 2020. It would have a capacity to transmit up to 10 giga-watts, or about ¼ of the total UK electrical requirement down the East coast alone.
 This is only 1/6th of Scotland’s potential renewable output. 
Potential Inter-Connector Route - Destination London

The Crown Estate findings are largely concurrent and consistent with Ofgem’s workshop report of May 6th 2011, but not with Ofgem’s policies which heavily discriminate against peripheral generation of electricity. Ofgem provides significant subsidies to power producers in London and the South East; subsidies that are paid for by penalties imposed upon generators in Scotland and to a lesser extent Wales.

The first item of note is that Ofgem’s policy would require alteration if the lines are to become financially viable, a review is currently underway. Ofgem’s current discriminatory policies were largely implemented during the last period of UK Labour government.

There is also a proposed East-West interconnector from Ireland, through Wales to the South East. According to Deloitte this part of the project already has several hundred millions in investment funds committed.

The West coast offshore wind grid currently under consideration may easily be tied to the East-West interconnector. The West coast grid is primarily in Scottish territory.

The potential ring could eventually carry over 75% of the UK electrical requirements directly to a distribution point just outside London.

The only logical conclusion, supported by Ofgem’s data is that London is preparing the way for itself to become a major European power hub; a hub from which it will derive substantial revenues and royalties.

Essentially the UK government gives every appearance of positioning itself to tax Scottish and Irish resources while having something of a stranglehold over EU power supplies.

It would be an effective method of ensuring future influence. Energy does largely equate to power in many different ways. What we have seen in Scotland as a result of oil is largely insignificant when viewed alongside our renewables potential – and that will not run out.

The aspect that previously cast a shadow on the entire issue was the UK Governments lack of commitment to renewables. Recently Westminster was forced to backtrack on reductions in solar power subsidies, and currently other aspects of the renewables industry are waiting on Westminster to end their regulatory uncertainty so they can get either get to work, or go elsewhere.

To have one arm of government effectively walking away from renewables while the other is investigating new grid ties and transmission lines seemed at cross purposes. The voracious pit of energy demand that is the SE needs fed. Scottish renewables appear fit for supply purpose.

One certainty arising from these proposals is London expects energy generated in Scotland to be available for her use; the method of generation is largely irrelevant. Scotland needs less than 5 giga-watts, leaving up to 60 giga-watts of her abundant green energy for export.

However, the proposed transmission lines can hardly carry 20% of Scotland's potential green energy output; it would seem a classic case of under investment.

There was a meeting last week during which London and Paris reached agreement on future defense spending; this included a small section where London would become a co-op to French nuclear power technology, for implementation in the UK.

The message can only be interpreted in one logical way. Westminster can use the future transmission links to supply energy to the SE for sale on to Europe. That energy can just as easily be nuclear energy as it could be green energy. The current UK administration, as with past administrations in London shows a decided preference for nuclear. The nuclear lobby is potent indeed in Whitehall.

If Scotland should vote No in the independence referendum, it appears not unrealistically that she can expect imposed changes in the constitutional settlement to require new nuclear power plants to be built in Scottish territory. Anticipate green energy being put on the compost pile.

Then again, irrespective of how Scotland votes, it is Westminster’s intent to have a stranglehold over what will be one of Scotland’s main exports, energy. It will be no different than Ukraine’s ability to stop the Russian gas supplies from reaching Western Europe.

In other words, Westminster is readying itself to profit from Scotland’s resources whichever way Scotland votes.

It is appropriate for Edinburgh to be able to sell our surplus energy to London, or wherever else it may be both required and profitable. What is not required is a London stranglehold on Scotland’s ability to perform even after she votes “YES”.

If the proposed grids go ahead without any alternative to allow Scottish renewable energy production to be independently exported, London could literally hold the balance of power over not only Scotland but much of Western Europe.


  1. Very good, very good indeed. The French and British governments are very cosy on this one. I Touched on this in my windfarm blog. Subsea connection direct to E.U mainland bypassing England would solve the issue!

  2. Scotland's oil, now Scotland's renewable energy, if they can't steal from us one way they'll steal from us another. Whatever will Westminster do when they have to survive without leeching off Scotland?