SNP MEP Alyn Smith, Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, cautiously welcomed the announcement of an EU Energy Union, whilst emphasising that there was plenty of room for improvement.
The Energy Union aims to create a single energy market in Europe and will focus on improving the free flow of energy across borders - strictly enforcing the current rules in areas such as energy unbundling and the independence of regulators – taking legal action if needed.
It also aims to create a low-carbon society that will be sustainable and has the potential to entrench Scottish companies at the forefront of the renewable energy industry. Unfortunately it does not go far enough and more work will be needed to develop marine power in particular.
“The EU Energy Union will benefit Scottish consumers by providing greater competition whilst helping with the on-going fight against climate change.
“Scotland has huge potential as a supplier of renewables and I am particularly pleased that there will be investment in the North Sea Electricity Supergrid which will improve upon the existing connectivity between Scotland and Norway.
“Improving such infrastructure and removing any legislative obstacles will not only reduce carbon emissions but also help cutting edge Scottish firms.
“However, the devil is in the details and I am disappointed there has been little effort to improve investment in wave and tidal generation, both of which have huge potential in Scotland.
“I am also concerned about the removal of tariffs which could have unintended side effects. Although in principle removing these will help Scottish consumers considering the high level of fuel poverty in Scotland we need to be very cautious. Any changes must make the situation better, not worse.
“Clearly, energy policy is an area we want to see very much under the control of the Scottish Parliament and Government, but the EU certainly adds value in opening up the EU’s energy market to our renewables, we need a place to sell our clean green energy. Scotland has a disproportionately greater interest in seeing the EU energy market work than the UK does.
“Ultimately the Energy Union is welcome but we must continue to encourage the development of renewable technologies in Scotland.”