Scottish Renewable Energy sector confident about year ahead

07 Jan 2013 | 02:08 pm | 2 min. read

Scotland's renewable energy market is upbeat about its prospects for success in 2013 and beyond, according to a survey to be published this week by international law firm Pinsent Masons.

According to the report, entitled 'Scotland's place in the Renewable Energy World', prominent players in the Scottish renewable energy sector feel that the UK is the most likely destination for their investment over the next 3 years, while 84% of respondents said that Scotland is the most attractive UK region for investment.

The research indicates that China and Germany are seen as the biggest alternatives destinations for investment, with each market offering different opportunities.

On a more cautious note, the survey also found that 70% of respondents did not consider that a change in the constitutional position of Scotland would necessarily enhance its prospects for investment.

Euan McVicar, an Edinburgh-based Partner in the Energy and Natural Resources practice at Pinsent Masons, says that the survey provides a useful snapshot of how a broad cross-section of organsations with renewable energy interests in Scotland view the country's prospects in the global race for investment.

McVicar says, "2012 has been a year of immense progress in the renewable energy sector. Significant announcements have been made on the Energy Bill, including important updates on electricity market reform and the Renewable Obligation regime. In Scotland, we have seen in excess of £200m invested into onshore wind, and the launch of the Green Investment Bank in Edinburgh will further bolster Scotland's global standing. There is every reason for confidence."

"The industry seems upbeat about the prospects for 2013. Many feared that the independence debate might dent confidence, but what the survey results suggest is not an opposition to Scottish independence, rather an illustration of the need for detail on what it would mean. Many businesses are well into their FY2013/14 business planning and investment cycle and will expect more detail as soon as is feasible."

McVicar continues, "Looking ahead to 2013, it will be interesting to see what signals the UK government puts out on renewables. Its reliance on Scottish renewables to help hit UK targets is a big issue, as is the operation of a single GB energy market."

"Against that backdrop, it's important that the good work that has already been done to promote Scotland as a renewable and alternative energy 'centre of excellence' on the world stage is continued. This survey highlights the extent to which we are involved in a global race. As other nations vie for investment, the focus and energy that has been put into building Scotland's reputation must be retained into 2013."

The research also found that "consistency of government policy and commitment to renewable energy at a national level" was cited by respondents as the single most important factor impacting investment decisions, with regulatory and planning issues coming a close second.

McVicar says, "High profile wrangles over the future shape of energy policy have ensured this issue is top of the agenda. We have also seen significant progress in planning issues which might have been a more significant concern in previous years. Stakeholders generally seem more willing to engage and negotiate than was the case in the past."

The Pinsent Masons research is based upon a survey of delegates at this year' Scottish Low Carbon Investment Conference and members of the Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group (AREG). A number of prominent organisations - including developers, funders, technology providers, professional advisers, academic institutions and public sector bodies - took part.

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