First Minister Alex Salmond’s claims that renewable energy developments could form not only the future of Scotland’s energy supply but also act as a major driver for job creation were called into question by the Auditor General.
Following an audit, Scotland’s Auditor General released a report which suggests job creation figures are closer to 13,000 than the 40,000 initially suggested. The report also says the government’s plans to have the equivalent of 100% of the nation’s energy produced by renewable sources by 2020, are progressing slower than initially anticipated.
More public money to be invested in renewable energy
The Auditor General estimated that £209 million have been invested in renewable infrastructures in the past 10 years and expects this amount to increase drastically to £264 million over the next two years.
The report also underlines the slower than anticipated progress of many renewable initiatives, which is linked to changes implemented by the UK government as well as private sector delays. These setbacks have left many public bodies with access to funding but no projects to invest in.
Auditor General and Accountable Officer Caroline Gardner said: “While there are aspects the Scottish Government and other public bodies should improve, the main challenge is that private sector investment has been slower than expected, reflecting the state of the economy and the uncertainty of developments in the wider UK energy sector.”
Initiatives ‘progressing more slowly than anticipated’
Speaking on the report, Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “We recognise, as the report does, that renewable energy projects are progressing more slowly than anticipated owing to factors such as the current economic climate and changes in UK energy policy.
“With the uncertainty surrounding UK energy policy we are responding to these market conditions by re-profiling our renewables budget, including our flagship Renewable Energy Investment Fund, so that the sector can be confident of continuing support into the future.”
Murdo Fraser, energy spokesperson for the Conservative party said: “The SNP has form for misleading the public on renewables jobs after claiming 18,000 worked in the sector, when in-fact it’s only 11,000.”