The Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has pledged £103m state funding to boost Scotland’s energy and marine industries.
The agreement between Westminster and Scotland will give the Scottish Government access to roughly half of the Scottish Fossil Fuel Levy fund, worth around £200m. The £103m investment will help capitalise the £3bn Green Investment Bank, a funding scheme designed to attract private investment into environmental improvement projects.
Mr Osborne also said the Government would release money from the Fossil Fuel Levy – a levy paid by electricity suppliers from non-renewable energy sources. The levy was not introduced to Scotland until 1996. As further funds become available in the Scottish Fossil Fuel Levy fund, it will be split equally between the two governments.
He made it clear that the new £103m investment is additional to money raised by the Fossil Fuel Levy.
Scotland’s Finance Secretary John Swinney said that he was very pleased with the investment, and that the funds had been anticipated by the Scottish Government for a long time.
Speaking from an oil rig construction yard at contractors Nigg outside Aberdeen, the Chancellor said: “The UK Coalition Government is committed to creating jobs across Scotland – particularly in the green energy sector. It’s great news that we have been able to cut through the arguments and the wrangling with the Scottish Government that have stopped this money being invested in the past. It shows how serious the UK Government is in its support for Scotland’s green future.”
Scotland has pushed heavily into the wind, wave and tidal energy generation industries, with several engineering businesses such as Green Ocean Energy and Aquamarine Power deriving from leaders and skills from the North Sea oil and gas industry centred on Aberdeen.
Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has publically pushed to boost the wave and tidal subsector, recognising Scotland’s natural resources in waters with big waves and high tidal ranges. But so far wave power, which is notoriously expensive, has not grown into a large scale, reliable provider of energy UK.
CBI Scotland’s Policy Executive, Andrew Dyce praised the Chancellor for releasing the fossil fuel levy monies.”These funds have the potential to provide a much needed boost to our innovative and world-leading renewables sector, and will help Scotland to realise its low-carbon economy ambitions.”
Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury, acknowledged Scotland’s “huge potential” for creating jobs and driving growth from renewable energy over the next few years.
The Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond also travelled to Nigg to announce that the site was to become a service hub for the energy industry, as well as announcing further funding of £1.8m from Highlands and Islands Enterprise to boost efforts to turn the site into a modern energy park, where renewable technology is designed and developed.
Aberdeen-based Global Energy Group purchased Nigg from the global engineering services company KBR and the Wakelyn Trust.