Once again, he wibbled on about renewables and electricity exports as the next Great Big Thing for the Scottish economy. It's clear from this, and other sources, that he regards the prospect of an "independent" Scotland becoming a "green energy exporter" as something very important, in many ways a replacement for dwindling oil.
What I am going to do is look at the realism of this quite slowly and carefully.
First, let's consider the present and historical position. Here's some official data:
Scotland is already a significant exporter of 'leccy. Over the 10 years to 2009, on average 18% (just under 9 TWh) of electricity generated in Scotland was exported, mostly to England but some to NI. In fact Scotland was also a net exporter over the previous 10 years, ever since electricity privatisation in 1990. (It was not an exporter prior to this. Go on, ask me why.)
Now this is clearly good business for the electricity generators in Scotland: Scottish Power (Spanish-owned), British Energy (French-owned), and Scottish & Southern (HQ in Perth, listed in London, most of their business in England & Wales). So it's good for you too if you are an employee and/or shareholder in these concerns. (I need to labour this point because they are a few Nats out there who seem to think that all these power exports happen for free. No idea why.)
Aside from that, what good is it for the rest of us?
I'd like to ask any passing enthusiasts for electricity exports - as Salmond seems to be - the following:
- How do you view the fact that Scotland has been a net exporter of electricity for the last 20 years? Do you see it as some sort of indicator of success?
- What benefit does Scotland in general get from the fact that private companies based here have been exporting electricity?