|Niall Stuart is CEO of Scottish Renewables|
A consequence of fears of dangerous climate change is the casual assumption that green is good. This view was on display when Niall Stuart responded to my letter in the Scotsman last Friday. His response is here, in which, citing jobs and investment, he argues that renewables have a positive effect on the Scottish economy.
My full (as yet unpublished) response was sent to the Scotsman on 15th and is replicated below.His argument is akin to my boasting that I have spent £30,000 on an electric car ignoring that I could have spent £12,000 on a diesel car with similar net CO2 emissions and a host of functional advantages.
"In response to my letter (15 February) the CEO of Scottish Renewables attempts to correct ‘some of the common misconceptions’ (presumably mine) around renewables (letter 16th February).
Update: An abbreviated version of the above letter was published here on 21.2.13Asserting that renewables have a positive effect on the Scottish economy Mr Stuart cites renewable jobs and investment. However, renewables are usually inefficient in producing energy and displace investment from elsewhere.His argument is akin to my boasting that I have spent £30,000 on an electric car ignoring that I could have spent £12,000 on a diesel car with similar net CO2 emissions and a host of functional advantages.Professor Gordon Hughes of
addresses the issue in a recent paper The Myth of Green Jobs. His closely argued analysis deserves reflection or rebuttal from Mr Stuart. Edinburgh UniversityAs Professor Hughes notes in a related paper, ‘The casual assumption that expenditures on green technology represent an efficient and economic use of scarce resources is a convenient fairy tale for troubled times’.Then Mr Stuart appears to conflate tax and subsidy. He refers to support for oil, coal and gas of over £3.6bn compared to the subsidies received by renewable energy. The OECD report in question refers to a figure of £3.63bn almost entirely representing the difference between the lower rate of VAT of 5% for domestic fuel and the standard rate of 20%. That reduction is also available to renewable energy. It is not a subsidy.Elsewhere he implies renewables add only 1.56% to consumer costs by referring only to the Renewable Obligation. In the real world, consumers pick up high costs of capital and system integration as well as additional production costs for goods produced with renewable energy. Moreover, despite huge investment and landscape impact, renewables currently account for a very small proportion of energy produced. Costs can be expected to rise rapidly as more renewables come on stream, not least because of a range of issues peculiar to renewables such as intermittency of supply.Finally, twice Mr Stuart resorts to argument from authority - in both cases politicians being the authority! I have resolved to examine the evidence for myself." Cllr Cameron Rose, City Chambers