Opinion

Opportunity knocks following Scottish referendum

Bridge in Scotland

Gordon Moran, writing for the European Energy Centre, looks at the prospects that greater devolution across the UK may bring to microgeneration renewables

Significant factors which can create uncertainty in business include the amount of available capital for projects, regulatory changes and political changes. The result of the Scottish independence referendum could potentially have affected all three of these factors in the event of a ‘Yes’ vote.

However, such changes may not necessarily have been negative. If Scotland had become an independent nation it would have meant that, in effect, a single market would have become two. Separate legislatures would have meant for greater divergence in terms of regulation and tax rates for businesses operating in microgeneration renewables.

As it turns out, similar opportunities may present themselves with the ‘devo-max’ option now proposed after the ‘No’ vote, not just in Scotland but potentially for all businesses across the United Kingdom. The relatively close poll results led to promises of further devolution of powers to the Scottish government and in turn to the other nations and regions of the UK. The form that ‘devo-max’ will take is not yet known, though there is still great potential scope for additional funding for microgeneration renewables in Scotland. For the UK as a whole, greater tax levying and legislative powers may well result in greater funding available for microgeneration renewables on a regional basis as well as creating additional demand for different specifications of technologies based on regionally specific planning regulations.

Changes in legislative and political scenarios can shake up any industry; however the renewable energy sector may encounter even more opportunities through such uncertainties. Pleasant surprises such as added competitiveness may well be in store for those who are able to embrace these changes to their advantage.