FAQs

There are lots of arguments about wind power. Where can I find impartial, unbiased information?

The Government's independent watchdog on sustainable development is the Sustainable Development Commission. It has recently made a thorough investigation into wind power and produced an information pack for householders along with a more detailed technical report on the subject and some answers to frequently asked questions. Visit the Wind Power In The UK page to see what the Commission has to say or to make a comment.

Why are we building so many wind farms on land and not out at sea? What about wave and tidal power instead?

Onshore wind power is a tried and tested technology and there is a thriving industry manufacturing large numbers of wind turbine generators. As such, it has the capacity to make a significant contribution to reaching our targets for renewable electricity generation in the short term. Onshore wind turbines are currently less costly and more easy to install than turbines offshore. However, the Scottish Government recognises that our seas hold great potential for offshore wind, wave and tidal energy and has provided increased support to help test and encourage these technologies to come forward in the longer term. Wherever renewable electricity generation is planned, at sea or land, it must go through a rigorous and robust planning process to ensure its impacts on the environment are acceptable before it can be given the go-ahead.

There are some people in my community who want us to make more use of renewable energy locally. What can the Scottish Government do to help us?

There is a huge variety of ways in which communities can gain some of the benefits of local renewable generation, either as individuals or groups. For example, for wind farms, there are established models of mixed ownership with commercial developers as well as others where the community is the sole owner. Heating is another important area of energy use where the local community can often make more use of renewables, such as solar panels, woodfuel, or heat pumps. More information is available in the Community Renewable Energy Toolkit and via the Communities And Renewable Energy Scheme. Householders can get help from their local Energy Saving Scotland Advice Centre on 0800 512 012.

I have an energy product/new technology that I would like to deliver. Who can I seek assistance and advice from?

Scottish Enterprise, on 01224 252000, can give you information on the Energy Technology Centre which provides a wide range of equipment and resources for developing, testing and demonstrating small-scale renewable and sustainable energy systems. You can use the centre to help realize the commercial potential of new energy-related products and technologies. They will also be able to give you more information about grants, such as Innovation Grants. Also of note may be the Scottish Development International (SDI). Their aim is to encourage growth of the Scottish economy by encouraging inward investment and helping Scottish companies to compete in overseas markets. They provide a wide range of international business services and are continually promoting Scotland to a worldwide audience of potential investors.

What are the main reasons for Scottish opposition to nuclear power?

Scottish Ministers have made it clear that they are supportive of possible life extension of existing nuclear power stations in the short term to help security of supply. They are however, committed to the policy of no new nuclear power stations in Scotland

SG approach to reducing carbon emissions from energy supply is broad - embracing renewable energy; carbon capture and storage along with low carbon technologies; energy efficiency; and promotion of microgeneration.

Studies demonstrate that diverse and secure electricity supplies are entirely achievable without resort to nuclear power. The costs of nuclear are vast and uncertain; SG therefore concludes that nuclear power is not necessary to deliver secure energy supplies in Scotland, and furthermore it cannot be assumed that nuclear power will be any more secure than other forms of imported energy.

Will there be an 'energy gap' without nuclear power?

The Scottish Government does not believe there will be a future energy gap that only nuclear power can fill. Scotland has the resources and capacity to meet all of our electricity needs. Over 15% of all our electricity currently generated is exported, contributing to sustainable economic growth at a time when our renewable generation is increasing.

Scotland now generates more energy from renewables than ever before, a clear sign that investment is turning Scotland's renewables potential into a reality. Nuclear power generation in Scotland is at its lowest share for many years.

The absence of nuclear power stations in our energy mix will not cause an energy gap in Scotland, as we have the natural resources to generate clean, green power. Harnessing that potential can meet our future energy demands several times over, while tackling climate change. A focus on renewables along with development of low carbon technologies such as carbon capture and storage (CCS) which has the potential to reduce carbon emissions significantly, is the way ahead for Scotland.

Does the Scottish Government have powers to stop nuclear plants from being built?

Yes - Under the Electricity Act 1989, the building of any new nuclear power station in Scotland would require consent from Scottish Government Ministers (under Section 36 of the Electricity Act). This is accepted by the UK government despite the recent statement in the Calman Commission.

Scottish Ministers would of course consider any application on its individual merits. However, given our energy policy position, combined with Scotland's current generating capacity and abundant energy sources, it is unlikely such a proposal would find favour with Scottish Ministers.

I am having trouble with my energy supplier - who can help me?

The Scottish Government has limited powers to intervene in individual cases of complaint between customers and Energy Supply Companies, you can, however write to your local MSP who will contact your supplier on your behalf.

If you are having difficulty with your Energy Supply Company we would advise you to contact Consumer Direct for advice on your rights and how to make a complaint against your supplier. Consumer Direct are a government funded organisation who are there to help the consumer, they have powers to resolve issues between customers and suppliers. They can be contacted on 08454 04 05 06 or at www.consumerdirect.gov.uk