Declaration of Confidence in our Energy Industry

First Minister re-affirms Scotland's leading position in the Renewables Sector

First Minister, Alex Salmond MSP, re-affirmed that ‘it is high time we started to broadcast the extent to which we are positioned in the low carbon economy already and to declare our confidence in the continued growth of a strong sustainable clean, green energy industry' as he opened the Scottish European Green Energy Centre (SEGEC) 2011 Conference with his keynote speech in Edinburgh last Wednesday.

The SEGEC conference, Delivering the Scottish Green Energy Opportunity, in association with the European Commission, which was attended by developers, utilities, financial and legal institutions, academia and government, focussed discussions on key challenges influencing the deployment of low-carbon technologies and reinforcing Scotland's position in Europe.

Leading experts and practitioners including Grant Thornton, MacRoberts and National Grid reiterated Scotland's role and strengths, but pushed the need to work together to ensure projects become ‘bankable'. Across Europe, there have been a range of shocks to the financing of renewable energy through regulatory reform and changes in financial incentives. This has increased investor uncertainty and made projects less ‘bankable' until future structures become clear. Luis Santos, Senior Managing Director at Espirito Santo Investment Bank, Portugal, commented that the UK still faces competition from countries such as Portugal, Spain, Italy and Germany for finance and investment. In the UK, the Electricity Market Reform (EMR) could represent a huge opportunity and provide increased certainty for the industry moving forward, however, we risk a move away from the European model of addressing the entire energy mix (including heat and transport) if we only look at electricity.

The scale of investment required for the evolution of our existing energy systems to deliver on the green agenda is not to be underestimated and the European Commission highlighted the need for euro50 billion for Energy Technology and euro200 billion for network infrastructure improvements, which alone cannot come only from the public purse. Innovative demonstration and deployment projects are beginning to unlock investment through a risk-sharing approach between public and private sector capital and there is scope to work more closely with Europe to increase the scale of activity in this area.

The First Minister emphasised the scale of the Low-Carbon Economy opportunity for Scotland. Scotland has been at the forefront of developing and utilising renewable energy technology to generate electricity. He also paid tribute to SEGEC, which ‘has played a key role in placing Scotland at the heart of EU networks and debates on renewables, carbon capture & storage and energy infrastructure'. As a result of its people's invention and ingenuity, Scotland's vision for the future of energy within the EU has now become a shared vision, and one which Scotland is already delivering.

Notes To Editors
Scottish European Green Energy Centre 2011 Conference
Delivering the Scottish Green Energy Opportunity: the 2011 Scottish European Green Energy Centre Conference was organised by MackayHannah and held at the George Hotel, Edinburgh on Wednesday 2nd March 2011.

Scottish European Green Energy Centre
The Scottish European Green Energy Centre (SEGEC) provides a focal point for organisations in Europe developing low-carbon energy projects. SEGEC engages with institutions, networks and technology platforms, influencing future policy and identifying niche opportunities for collaboration across different industry sectors.

SEGEC's principal remit is to facilitate innovative, collaborative, low-carbon, infrastructure projects which deliver real benefits for Scotland, the UK and Europe. SEGEC works to secure investments from a range of public grants and private sector funds, including EU funding streams that have been allocated to support market and technology development. Working with collaborative partners, SEGEC maximises the potential to contribute to the European Energy and Emissions targets for 2020 and beyond.

Established in 2009, SEGEC has delivered over €110M of EU funding for low-carbon energy projects. An independent, not-for-profit organisation, SEGEC is supported by the Scottish Government, ERDF, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, ScottishPower and SSE.

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