Salmon return to River Garry after hydro scheme improved

Salmon are leaping in a scenic Perthshire river for the first time in nearly 70 years after pioneering work was carried out to restore flow cut off by a hydro-electric scheme.

A 10-mile stretch of the River Garry, which had been dry since the mid-1950s, is now running with water, promising major benefits for local salmon populations.

The move comes as a result of a landmark agreement between energy firm SSE, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) and Tay District Salmon Fisheries Board (TDSFB) to allow water to flow once more from Pitlochry dam.

The work, which included the removal of a weir at Struan that had acted as a barrier to migrating fish, was designed to have maximum environmental benefits while minimising the impact on potential power generation.

Local fisheries managers have welcomed the measures.

“Salmon have already been seen leaping at the falls at Struan after an absence over 60 years - something once assumed would never happen again,” said David Summers, director of TDSFB.

“We hope that this will ultimately see an extra 1,500 salmon registered on the Pitlochry fish counter annually, bringing local benefits for both angling and general tourism.”

Jeremy Williamson, director of renewables operations for SSE, stressed the firm’s commitment to nature.

He said: “As a responsible developer and operator of renewable energy we want to ensure that we balance the nation’s need for power with our environmental responsibilities.

“Although restoring the water in this stretch of the River Garry will result in a loss of potential hydro energy, we recognise our responsibility to ensure that we manage the waters carefully where we operate our hydro assets and hope that the work to restore the River Garry will help create a sustainable population of salmon in this stretch of the river.”

Terry A’Hearn, chief executive of SEPA, added: “This is a fantastic achievement for the ecology of this river, which has historically been impacted by hydro-schemes for the last 60 to 70 years.

“A total length of 10 miles of river with historically little or no flow will be improved. We hope to see salmon return to the river and that the river will now support a healthy population of juvenile and adult fish.”

Scottish environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham, who officially opened the restored watercourse, described the project as “an excellent example of successful partnership working”.

She said: “It demonstrates how industry, public bodies and local organisations can work together to balance the delivery of environmental improvements and renewable energy production, as well as providing wider benefits to the local community and economy.”

Brexit holds no fear for Macquarie as CEO eyes UK investment

Clouds hanging over the UK's future relationship with the European Union haven't hurt Macquarie Group's appetite for investing in the country, according to its chief executive Nic Moore.

"We are looking at Brexit with interest but not fear," Mr Moore said on Friday after the release of Macquarie's half-year results.

An anti-Brexit demonstrator cycles outside the Houses of Parliament in London. "We are looking at Brexit with interest ... An anti-Brexit demonstrator cycles outside the Houses of Parliament in London. "We are looking at Brexit with interest but not fear," says Macquarie Group chief executive Nic Moore. Photo: Simon Dawson

"We do note Brexit, but we also think the UK economy is a strong and growing economy, " he said. "We're continuing to invest."

British Prime Minister Theresa May dashed expectations for a swift Brexit transition agreement last week, and business lobby groups fear that uncertainty over the timing and terms of a deal will suppress investment.

Mr Moore said that while he has a large team looking at the implications of Brexit, the company still has an eye for opportunities "across the spectrum".

He repeated his aim for Macquarie to invest a billion pounds a year in renewable energy as part of its acquisition of the UK Green Investment bank.

Macquarie, the world's largest manager of infrastructure assets, is hunting for acquisitions globally as it continues to diversify away from cyclical businesses.

On the back of a record first-half profit from its asset management unit, Macquarie on Friday beat earnings estimates for the third straight period and upgraded its outlook for the year.

While declining to identify any particular target companies, Moore said all teams have lists of assets that they are looking to buy at any time. Specific interests include asset management, renewables, leasing businesses and oil and gas.

In March, Macquarie bought Cargill's petroleum and gas trading businesses, adding to its strength in trading commodities at a time when lenders like UBS Group, Barclays and Deutsche Bank are retreating.

Still, last half wasn't a good one for Macquarie's commodity markets business, which suffered a 23 per cent drop in profit from a year earlier. The decline was the result of reduced trading opportunities and lower income from the sale of investments, according to the bank, which said it expects the unit to benefit when market conditions improve.

Moore, who has been in the top job since 2008, indicated he had no intention of stepping aside soon.

"I feel myself very privileged to be able to lead the team," he said. "I'm very engaged."


Mackie's to feature on BBC show

Mackie’s Aberdeenshire farm is to feature on the hit family program, “Eat Well For Less?” tomorrow night.

Hosted by Gregg Wallace and Chris Bavin, the BBC One show helps families save money by teaching them the facts about good food and showing them how to feed themselves for less - without scrimping on quality or taste.

While Mackie’s ice cream utilises fresh milk and cream from the farm, “Eat Well for Less?” discovered that many brands substitute this important dairy ingredient, replacing it with vegetable oil – meaning many top ice cream brands don’t actually contain any dairy.

Kirstin Mackie, Development Director and one of three sibling owners at the Aberdeenshire firm, said: “We are so pleased to have been chosen to feature on this series of “Eat Well For Less?” as it was a great opportunity for us to showcase our best selling ice-cream.

“We take pride in the fact that our ice-cream is all home-made, using ingredients fresh from the farm so to get the chance to share that with Chris was great.

“We want to encourage people to take the time and taste the difference between real dairy and oil based ice creams.”

Gregg and Chris argue that the pennies saved from cutting down on some big brands and takeaways can be put towards buying high quality ingredients from good sources.

Taking a trip to the Mackie’s farm, the pair discovered the firm's ice-cream process, which puts a focus on a ‘sky to scoop’ ethos, home growing, powering and making everything that they can on site.

Milk and cream for the ice-cream comes from the family firm’s own herd of cows - while the unique process is powered by the renewable energy generated on the farm, through four wind turbines, a large solar farm and a biomass plant.

Firmly established as one of the UK’s most popular take-home ice creams, Mackie’s diversified into making crisps in 2009.

Adding a dedicated £600,000 chocolate factory to its Aberdeenshire home farm in 2014, Mackie’s has since achieved substantial new contracts for its chocolate, including initial deals with Tesco and Sainsbury’s, with new domestic contracts including the Co-op coming on board in 2016.

"Eat Well For Less?” will be broadcast on BBC One Scotland tomorrow (October 26) at 8pm.

Aberdeen named one of Britain’s “smartest cities”

Aberdeen has been hailed as one of Britain’s “smartest cities” in a new survey.

In the second UK Smart Cities Index, commissioned by Huawei UK and conducted by Navigant Consulting, the Granite City has been ranked 12th- between Oxford and Edinburgh,

The report is based on evaluations of 20 cities and their strategies, key projects and overall readiness in using digital technology to improve crucial civic services from transport infrastructure to healthcare.

Aberdeen was praised for the likes the £20million hydrogen bus project and the Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group (AREG) which focuses on renewable energy and efficiency.

Council co-leader Douglas Lumsden said: “We are now also at the beginning of a radical shift in how we use smart technology both as a council to deliver better services to our customers and as a key stakeholder in the city to stimulate economic growth alongside public, private and third sector organisations.”

Europe’s climate strategy of burning wood for energy isn’t working

Opposition to the use of forest biomass for energy generation is going mainstream, writes Linde Zuidema, as evidence builds that wood is being burnt in large scale inefficient coal-fired power stations.

Linde Zuidema is bioenergy campaigner at forests and rights NGO FERN.

Every day resistance is growing to the use of wood as a renewable energy.

Environmental NGOs have long opposed the use of ‘forest biomass’ because it  harms the climate and biodiversity. Now opposition is going mainstream, with increasing numbers of EU citizens expressing their concerns about the pressure the policy  is putting on forests. Growing demands have led to the use of whole trees for energy. Businesses too, are complaining that bioenergy subsidies are distorting biomass and energy markets.

In the name of promoting ‘green’ energy and encouraging the use of renewable sources of electricity and heating, since 2009 the European Union has allowed Member States to subsidise the use of wood for renewable energy production. These subsidies have increased the use of biomass in coal-fired power installations by 85% in some member states, according to a recent study by think tank Sandbag. The study shows that 40% of biomass use for electricity production happens in coal power plants.

This is disturbing on many levels, and not least that because it means that billions of public funds are being used as a hidden subsidy for coal and coal infrastructure.

But the use of wood in large scale inefficient coal-fired power stations is highly problematic in itself, and attracting fierce opposition.

Installations such as Gardanne in the South of France and Drax in the United Kingdom require huge volumes of wood. Local activists in France and the UK are protesting against biomass burning in these places because of the negative effect on forests and air quality.

Forest-based industries are also concerned. They understand – as ample evidence shows –that wood is a limited resource and burning it, specifically in large inefficient installations, is a huge waste. Increasing demands have also led to the use of whole trees for energy.

But perhaps even more concerning are the negative impacts on the climate.

Burning wood emits more CO2 than burning coal per unit of energy produced, while compensation for these emissions by future growth of trees is unlikely in the time scales relevant for climate change. This was highlighted recently in a letter by almost 200 scientists that said ‘bioenergy is not carbon neutral and can have serious negative climate impacts’, and which urged policy makers to implement strict rules on bioenergy in future EU renewables policy.

Using public funds to promote the use of ‘forest biomass’ in inefficient large scale power installations cannot be justified under either a climate or a renewable energy policy. Burning wood simply contradicts our aims of using resources more efficiently, protecting our forests and combatting climate change.

But the momentum appears to be finally shifting.

Last week, the Dutch government and the region of Wallonia in Belgium announced an end to subsidies for large scale co-firing biomass with coal for electricity production. Meanwhile the European Commission has proposed ending subsidies for the use of biomass in inefficient power stations in its design for a renewable energy policy for the period after 2020.

These decisions offer hope.

Now it is up to EU member states and the European Parliament to uphold these proposals.

On Monday 23 October a crucial vote will take place on this issue in the European Parliament.

We urge its members to support a ban on the use of whole trees, and wood use in power-only installations and co-firing in coal-fired plants. If they don’t, we will all bear the cost.

Photos: The world's first floating wind farm has started up off Scotland

Hywind Scotland, the world's first floating wind farm, has started delivering electricity to the grid today.

The 30 megawatt (MW) wind farm, which is operated by Norway-based energy firm Statoil and UAE partner Masdar, is set 25 kilometers offshore Peterhead in Aberdeenshire and will power around 20,000 households.

At the opening today, Scotland's first minister Nicola Sturgeon, said Scotland had positioned itself as a "world centre for energy innovation".

Linked with the project, Statoil and Masdar will also install Batwind, a 1 megawatt hour (MWh) lithium battery storage solution for offshore wind energy.

“Hywind can be used for water depths up to 800 meters, thus opening up areas that so far have been inaccessible for offshore wind," said Irene Rummelhoff, executive vice president of new energy solutions at Statoil.

"The learnings from Hywind Scotland will pave the way for new global market opportunities for floating offshore wind energy."

Giles Dickson, chief executive of Wind Europe, said the launch showed that floating offshore wind was now a viable technology ready to be rolled out on an industrial scale.

"The potential for floating is massive: 4,000 GW [gigawatts] in Europe alone.”

Take a closer look at the Hywind Scotland wind farm in the photos and video below

(Click or tap on the images to see them in full screen)

[embedded content]

Read more: The government has confirmed up to £557m for new renewable energy auctions

Shell opens electric vehicle charging in UK

Oil major Royal Dutch Shell has launched a fast-charging -service for electric vehicles at three Shell service stations near London and in northern England.

The company said on Wednesday that the service would charge most electric vehicle batteries from zero to 80 per cent within half an hour.

The project is the oil major’s first foray into fast-charging-electric-vehicles, whose use is set to grow with consumers’ demand for cleaner cars.

Shell will expand the service further in Britain and into the Netherlands and the Philippines, the company said.

The launch comes a week after Shell announced the acquisition of NewMotion, one of Europe’s largest electric- vehicle charging networks.

“Shell believes electric vehicles will form a material part of the transport network going forward,” Jane Lindsay-Green, Shell UK future fuels manager, told reporters.

Shell expects around a quarter of the world’s car fleet to be electric by 2040.

Currently, there are fewer than 100,000 electric vehicles on the roads.

Morgan Stanley estimates that one million to 3 million public charging points may be needed in Western Europe by 2030 to meet rising demand.

Oil companies are increasingly aware of the threat to parts of their downstream business from electric transport.


Shell rival BP said in August it was in talks with electric vehicle makers about partnering to offer charging stations at its retail sites.

Customers using Shell Recharge pay 49 pence per kilowatt-hour (kWh) after the end of a promotional 25 pence-per-kWh offer until the end of June 2018.

They pay using a mobile payment app that is subscription-free. The service will be available at 10 British locations by the end of the year.

Shell already offers electric-vehicle charging through a partner scheme in Norway and earlier this year opened a hydrogen refuelling station in Britain.

“This is a new space for Shell. We need to be exploring different opportunities.

“We’re starting small and are going to learn quickly. Then we’re going to move in 2018 based on what our customers want,”

The European Commission had approved German plans for an infrastructure network for charging electric vehicles across the country.

The plan, at a total cost of 300 million euros (319.4 million dollars) over four years, will require that the electricity comes from renewable energy sources, with contracts awarded through an open tender process.

“Electric vehicles can provide real benefits to society by reducing harmful emissions and noise pollution.

”The German support scheme will encourage consumers and businesses to use electric vehicles,” EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement.

“It will provide the necessary infrastructure in a cost-effective way in line with EU state aid rules.” ($1 = 0.9394 euros)




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source: Vanguard

UK sets out clean growth strategy and major renewable energy auction

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Wikimedia Commons

The UK Government has announced an ambitious new Clean Growth Strategy to drastically cut carbon emissions and combat climate change, including £557 million for the country’s third renewable energy Contracts for Difference auction set for spring of 2019.

Wednesday saw the UK Government launch its new Clean Growth Strategy which sets out how to grow the national economy while simultaneously cutting greenhouse gas emissions. The UK wants to focus on supporting developing and creating new technologies and new businesses, helping to grow jobs and prosperity across the UK, while meeting the country’s national climate change targets.

“This government has put clean growth at the heart of its Industrial Strategy to increase productivity, boost people’s earning power and ensure Britain continues to lead the world in efforts to tackle climate change,” said UK Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark.

“For the first time in a generation, the British government is leading the way on taking decisions on new nuclear, rolling out smart meters and investing in low carbon innovation.

The world is moving from being powered by polluting fossil fuels to clean energy. It’s as big a change as the move from the age of steam to the age of oil and Britain is showing the way.”

The new Clean Growth Strategy for the first time sets out how the Government will distribute in excess of £2.5 billion worth of investments to support low carbon innovation from 2015 through to 2021 — including up to £505 million from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s Energy Innovation Programme, which aims to accelerate the commercialization of innovative clean energy technologies and processes.

“The impact of the Paris agreement and the unstoppable global shift towards low carbon technologies gives the UK an unparalleled opportunity,” added Climate Change and Industry Minister Claire Perry.

“By focusing on Clean Growth, we can cut the cost of energy, drive economic prosperity, create high value jobs and improve our quality of life.”

Parallel to the publication of the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy was the announcement of the country’s third Contracts for Difference renewable energy auction, which will compete for £557 million to go towards “less established” renewable electricity projects — likely to include offshore wind and marine technologies like tidal and wave energy generation.

“The government’s Clean Growth Strategy will set out how the whole of the UK can benefit from the global move to a low carbon economy,” explained Energy Minister Richard Harrington.

“We’ve shown beyond doubt that renewable energy projects are an effective way to cut our emissions, while creating thousands of good jobs and attracting billions of pounds worth of investment.”

The news was welcomed by industry groups, especially those representing the “less established” technologies likely to compete for the next auction.

“This announcement secures cheap, home-grown, clean energy for the UK. Greg Clark’s department is helping to build a world-leading offshore wind industry which can power a clean industrial revolution, creating new jobs and attracting billions of new investment,” said Hugh McNeal, RenewableUK’s Chief Executive.

“Last month we saw a record 50% drop in the cost of offshore wind. This amazing cost reduction is a reminder of what innovative industry can deliver when backed by competitive auctions.

Onshore wind is the cheapest form of new power generation, and it would be exciting to see what projects in the right places could deliver for UK consumers.”

Source: CleanTechnica. Reproduced with permission.

Onshore wind cleared to compete in UK CfD tenders

The announcement was made as the government’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) unveiled its repeatedly delayed Clean Growth Strategy.

It follows yesterday’s announcement that up to £557 million (€622.95 million) would be made available for the "next clean electricity auctions for less established renewables", with the next tender to be held in spring 2019.

That auction would be the UK’s third renewables tender, following September’s auction in which two offshore wind projects were awarded CfD deals at under half the price of contracts awarded in February 2015.

A 2013 report for the UK and Scottish governments concluded that wind projects on the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland off the coast of Scotland could supply around 3% of the UK’s total electricity demand.

Today’s announcement means proposed projects on these remote islands would be eligible to bid in the spring 2019 auction.

Secretary of State for Scotland, David Mundell MP said: "Wind projects on the remote islands of Scotland have the potential to generate substantial amounts of electricity for the whole of the UK and I am delighted they will have the opportunity to compete in the next round of contracts for difference."

Other announcements

The government also announced it would work with the offshore wind sector to develop a "sector deal" and set a target of an additional 10GW of capacity to be built in the 2020s "with the opportunity for additional deployment if this is cost effective"

It also said £177 million (€197.48 million) would be made available "to further reduce the cost of renewables", with offshore wind and floating wind projects among technologies being specifically targeted.

Ministers would also work with the Crown Estate and the Crown Estate Scotland – the UK’s seabed landlord – to "understand the potential for deployment of offshore wind in the late 2020s and beyond", BEIS announced.

It was also suggested that funding from the £200 million (€223.14 million) Rural Development Plan for England’s Growth Programme and Countryside Productivity Offers "could be used to support renewable energy projects, such as solar panels or small wind turbines linked to battery storage".

Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said: "This government has put clean growth at the heart of its Industrial Strategy to increase productivity, boost people’s earning power and ensure Britain continues to lead the world in efforts to tackle climate change."

Other policies announced in the Clean Growth Strategy included:

  • setting up a UK Green Finance Taskforce to provide recommendations on investment to "maximise the UK’s share of the global green finance market;
  • investing up to £100 million (€111.57 million) in developing carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS);
  • investing around £3.6 billion (€4.01 billion) to make around one million homes more energy efficient;
  • spending £1 billion (€1.11 billion) to aid the take-up of ultra-low emission vehicles as the sale of conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans is ended by 2040;
  • investing around £841 million in driving low-carbon transport technology (€938.31 million);
  • phasing out the use of unabated coal to produce electricity by 2025;
  • delivering new nuclear power through the Hinkley Point C plant in Somerset;
  • establishing a new network of forests and planting 1,000,000 new trees.


Industry leaders and clean energy lobbyists have broadly welcomed the government’s Clean Growth Strategy, but some commentators have called for more detailed plans to be published.

Some have argued all solar PV and onshore wind projects should be allowed to compete in CfD auctions, while others claim the government needs more ambitious plans to reduce CO2 emissions.

The managing director of Dong Energy UK, which secured a contract for its Hornsea Project Two under the UK’s CfD auction in September, said offshore wind could be the "backbone" of the UK’s energy system.

Matthew Wright said: "The ambition and commitment represented by the Clean Growth Strategy is fantastic news for the renewable energy industry and is very much in line with our own vision to create a world that runs entirely on green energy.

"We look forward to working with government to help realise the aims of this new strategy.

"Offshore wind can be the backbone of the UK’s energy system, providing a substantial source of green energy for consumers, as well as creating high quality jobs across the country in a thriving UK supply chain.

"By retaining its global leadership position, the UK is also well placed to export products and services overseas.

"Offshore wind is now competitive with other forms of generation, as seen in the recent CfD auction which saw the lowest ever strike price for offshore wind in the UK, and we remain committed to driving down costs even further."

Greenpeace and trade bodies the Renewable Energy Association and the Energy Institute welcomed the strategy, but said more details are needed on how it will be implemented.

John Sauven, the executive director of Greenpeace UK, said the government needed to be more ambitious.

"Our small country could be a big power on low carbon solutions if we keep up the momentum, especially on energy efficiency and electric vehicles," he argued.

"The government’s punt on offshore wind has already paid off in spectacular style, and proves that clean technology, ambitious developers and government support are a winning combination.

"A smart, efficient and renewable-powered electricity system is possible. The offshore wind industry is proof you can provide jobs and regional development at low cost without leaving a legacy of nuclear waste and exorbitant decommissioning costs.

"The transport sector is now the greatest emitter of CO2 emissions: We need stronger ambition on phasing-out diesel and petrol cars before the 2040 ban, and no new runway at Heathrow.

"If (climate change and industry minister) Claire Perry and her team now puts real flesh on the bones in their strategy, we could clean up our transport, heat and power sectors."

Nina Skorupska, chief executive of the Renewable Energy Association said the "language, ambition and recommitment from Government to lower emissions" were welcome, as was the "recognition that decarbonisation and economic growth are not mutually exclusive, but are in fact linked".

She added: "The plan focuses on areas that have not been given a huge amount of time or thought to previously in government, such as industrial efficiency or the built environment, both of which are crucial and can be a win-win.

"However, for many of our members they will see very little substance in this plan and we will have to ensure we are pushing government for how they intend to address the big issues of adding low-carbon generation, greening our heat system, cleaning our transport and leading the decentralisation revolution that will lead to a cheaper and low-carbon future."

Meanwhile, Louise Kingham CEO of the Energy Institute, which represents energy professionals, said the strategy "breathes new life into decarbonising the UK".

She said: "Taking energy efficiency seriously in homes, businesses and industry will cut emissions, bring down bills and increase productivity more effectively than anything else.

"Putting CCS (carbon capture storage) back at the table and action to tackle emissions from heat, alongside renewables, nuclear and electric vehicles make this a credible plan.

"The strategy is really important for the UK's standing on the global climate change stage, as we look to the next round of UN talks hosted by Fiji in Bonn next month.

"But meeting the UK’s carbon targets is ultimately a numbers game and the real proof will be in the delivery.

"Hitting 57% emission reduction by 2030 in a cost-effective way, and realising the big industrial wins that come with that, calls for a no-surprises investment climate.

"This includes policies aimed at getting the best deal for bill-payers, which must take a balanced, long-term view of consumer interest.

"Energy professionals are primed and ready to bring their skills to bear and be at the heart of this transition."

Others called for clarity on whether onshore wind and solar projects would be allowed to compete on the same level as power generation technologies considered "less established".

Claire Mack, chief executive of ScottishRenewables said a government commitment to work with the offshore wind industry on a "sector deal" was to be welcomed.

However, she added: "It is disappointing that no commitment has yet been made to allow [mainland] onshore wind and solar PV - the cheapest forms of new power generation - to compete for contracts to sell the clean power they produce.

"With cost reduction recognised as an important part of the continued growth of our low-carbon energy system, it is startling that cheap, popular onshore wind and solar PV are excluded once again from plans for the UK’s energy future.

"We now look forward to seeing the outcome of the government’s Cost of Energy Review, where we expect to see these lowest-cost technologies recognised as crucial for the delivery of cheap, clean power for Britain’s homes and businesses."

She also welcomed the announcement that onshore projects on remote Scottish islands would be allowed to compete alongside offshore wind and biomass heat and power in the next CfD tender.

Ms Mack added: "It remains imperative, however, that Government use the tools at its disposal to support wave and tidal technologies along the path to full commercialisation and cost reduction.

"We welcome the many positive announcements on heat and transport, and the commitment to work with industry to set out an effective long-term market framework for the heat sector beyond 2020.

"Despite the positive steps detailed in today’s Clean Growth Strategy, the government still expects to miss the fifth carbon budget unless it purchases international carbon credits.

"While the announcements made in the Strategy on cutting carbon in the heat and transport sectors in particular are welcome, the government will need to go further still if it is to meet its legal requirements on climate change and its global commitments under the Paris Agreement."

RenewableUK’s Chief Executive, Hugh McNeal, however, described the strategy as "ambitious" and capable of enabling the UK to deliver a "modern, clean energy system".

He said: "Government is clear that clean growth is a priority for the UK, and that the low-carbon sector can help to increase the competitiveness and productivity of our economy in the decades ahead, creating high-value jobs as well as taking effective action on climate change.

"However, what’s missing is clarity on how the lowest-cost technology, onshore wind, can deliver for UK consumers".

Scotland to set up publicly-owned, not-for-profit energy company

Scotland will set up a publicly-owned, not-for-profit energy company, providing locally generated renewable energy, Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.

The First Minister told the Scottish National Party’s conference on Tuesday that the new company would be set up by the end of the current parliamentary term in 2021 to increase competition and choice for consumers.

“The idea, at its heart, is simple,” she said.

“Energy would be bought wholesale or generated here in Scotland – renewable, of course – and sold to customers as close to cost price as possible.”

“No shareholders to worry about. No corporate bonuses to consider.

“It would give people - particularly those on low incomes - more choice and the option of a supplier whose only job is to secure the lowest price for consumers.”

Responding to the announcement, Dermot Nolan, the chief executive of Ofgem, said the energy regulator would “welcome any form of potential new entry” into the energy market.

Ministers will publish further details on the proposals in an energy strategy to be published later this year.

The required licence for the new company could be granted within months, Mr Nolan told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme on Wednesday.

“We would try to facilitate any licence application,“ he said.

“We could see a real change in energy in the next five to 10 years, much more local production, much more peer to peer community trading of energy and I think something like is by and large something consumers will like.”

He stressed that any new power firm would “need to satisfy its customers and provide a high quality level of service”, but he also added:  “Personally my own view is that in the future the energy sector will change a lot, we will have a lot more community energy groups, we'll have a lot more local production of energy so it seems that any company with strong roots locally, with a strong reputation is likely to do well.”