Yousaf urges UK to increase green energy subsidies ahead of conference

Scotland’s First Minister has urged the UK Government to commit to a “more ambitious strategy” to attract green investments.

Ahead of a speech at the All-Energy Conference in Glasgow on Wednesday – his first to the business community since taking up the post – Humza Yousaf described the move to net zero as the “biggest economic opportunity this country has”.

The First Minister is also expected to make an announcement on renewable hydrogen at the conference, although it is not clear what shape this would take, while pledging that Scotland will “lead from the front in the move away from fossil fuels”.

Offshore wind farm
The First Minister will push for more subsidies for renewable energy (Michal Wachucik/PA)

He said: “We will seek to work closely with partners, including the wider industry, and of course the UK Government, who hold many of the key powers in relation to energy.

“Action from the UK Government is essential to ensure that both Scotland and the UK meet our climate targets and harness the economic benefits of the just transition.

“But the truth is, like so many areas of the Brexit-based economy, that the UK risks falling further behind comparable countries, and throwing away the transformational green opportunities available to Scotland, unless there is an urgent change.

“The Scottish Government is absolutely committed to embracing the future and investing in the technology that will get us to net zero.

“Under my leadership, we are ready to step up and accept we need to go further and faster – but we urgently need the UK Government to take decisive action as well.

“In the face of generous subsidies being offered elsewhere, we need the UK Government to be a willing partner by committing to a much more ambitious strategy for encouraging green investment – in order to ensure that Scotland and the rest of the UK are not left behind in the race for global capital.”

Along with a push for more subsidies to increase investment, Mr Yousaf is also expected to push for the UK Government to address flaws in the transmission system used to carry energy out of Scotland, which Scottish ministers view as a penalty on renewables producers.

He will also call for an accelerated timetable for the Acorn carbon capture facility in Aberdeenshire and for Westminster to at least match the Scottish Government’s just transition fund – which aims to pay out £500 million over 10 years to move away from oil and gas.

But Liam Kerr, the Scottish Conservatives’ net zero, energy and transport spokesman, said the First Minister was “typically, and desperately, trying to deflect attention towards Westminster to avoid scrutiny for his own government’s failings when it comes to hitting environmental targets”.

“From the shambolic deposit return scheme, to missing targets on energy efficiency and failing to hit emission targets for three years in a row, Humza Yousaf is part of a government that cannot lecture anyone on their green record,” he said.

“He also has some nerve asking anyone to match money for Acorn – whilst the UK Government has ploughed in over £41 million, the SNP yanked their promised £80 million fund; and all while the UK North Sea Transition Deal is worth more than £16 billion for the whole of the UK industry.

“The SNP-Greens’ much delayed energy strategy was totally devoid of ideas when it finally launched in January and threatens to throw 100,000 oil and gas workers under the bus. By contrast the Scottish Conservatives have produced a detailed energy strategy with a commitment to protecting jobs at its heart.

“Humza Yousaf is far too distracted by the civil war and chaos engulfing the SNP to be truly dedicated to tackling climate change and hitting ambitious net zero targets. Those will be achieved by Scotland’s two governments working together, rather than the First Minister playing to the nationalist gallery.”

A UK Government spokesman said the country has “blazed a trail globally for green growth, having already attracted billions for over a decade in green investment, all while growing the economy and creating tens of thousands of good jobs”.

“Scotland has played a key role in this, and has benefited hugely from this work. Since 2010 renewable energy connected to the grid has increased five-fold and we have the four largest operational offshore wind farms in the world including Moray East Wind Farm off the coast of Scotland,” the spokesman said.

“There is huge potential still – our plans to power up Britain are expected to attract a further £100 billion investment and support 480,000 jobs across the UK by 2030.”