Smith Hails EU Blueprint For Energy Infrastructure

17 November 2010

SNP member of the European Parliament Alyn Smith, has today (Wednesday) applauded the publication today of the EU's "Communication on Energy Infrastructure Priorities for 2020 and Beyond" which reinforces the EU's commitment to facilitating the development of green energy, and strengthens the potential for significant investment and job creation in the Scottish economy.

The Blueprint lays out a series of "projects of European interest", which includes the development of a Super Grid in the North Sea to harness the power of marine energy, and proposes innovative ideas to speed up the delivery of the projects such as dedicated regional organisations to draw up investment plans for cross-border projects; collective action to streamline and coordinate the various planning and permit procedures; and finding new sources of financing to fill the estimated 60b EUR investment gap.  The Blueprint also presents a number of important generic projects, such as developing research into smart meters, and investing in CO2 transport networks, which will be key to the promotion of the eventual Scottish CCS industry.

The Blueprint aims to lessen the EU's energy dependency, particularly from external sources of gas, to complete the internal energy market thus ensuring lower prices for energy consumers, and to contribute to Europe's climate change targets (a 20% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2020).  It claims that the proposals will create 775,000 jobs in the next decade, and add 19b EUR to EU GDP.

Smith said:

"We've heard so many negative stories about the EU lately that it can be easy to forget that when sovereign nations work together we can achieve a lot more than separately. 

"In no field is this truer than in energy: the creation of truly integrated pan-European energy markets and grids will have huge benefits for job creation and for energy prices for consumers, for our energy security and for the fight against climate change. 

"Scotland, with our huge marine energy resource, innovative companies and high skills base is better placed than most to take advantage of this, and I'm delighted that the Commission recognise that the North Sea Super Grid is the top priority for planning and investment: following on from their down payment in the Economic Recovery Plan, the EU's interest should mean more strategic expertise, more strategic investment, more jobs and more research facilities that we can take advantage of.

"Of equal importance is the focus on carbon transport links, and developing the technology in this area: once again, the Scottish North Sea with its oil fields presents Europe's top location for carbon storage, and we still have plentiful coal reserves, so we can only benefit from this. 

"What a contrast with the myopic attitude of the UK government as enforced by the National Grid, whose self-defeating policy on transmission charges retards the progress of renewables, as we have seen recently in the Western Isles.

"I'm intrigued by the concept of streamlining permit procedures for big cross-border projects, and we shall have to examine the actual proposals closely to make sure there are no national sovereignty implications, but overall this is a bold imaginative proposal which shows Europe at its best and which has tremendous implications for the Scottish economy and environment."