It is very difficult to look back on the previous 12 months and not hit upon the Government's Energy White Paper published in May of this year. In the words of the Minister, Ian Pearson, in a speech shortly after the White Paper was published, it sets out an "…ambitious programme", one of the main targets being legally binding carbon emission reduction.
This one sentiment has driven many highly inventive projects in Scotland such as the proposed Peterhead carbon capture project. The science being that the "carbon" left behind in supplying gas to the Boddam Power Station would be pumped out to the "empty" Miller Oil field and stored there.
The continued development of marine and wind technology in Scotland again has illustrated novel technical solutions to the problem of emissions. The Glendoe Hydro Scheme – the first major hydro development in many years - is due "on-stream" in 2008.
Against these innovative solutions lie the delays and costs associated with connecting to the grid and replacing an aging portfolio of power stations – particularly nuclear. The power station replacement debate continues, however, finding a constant "base load" of electricity "keeping the lights on" remains the issue.
Proposals are being considered to increase Scotland's power connectivity by building links to other European countries and Scotland already has a power link to the island of Ireland with super-grid expertise added from the renewables sector. The emphasis is on sharing the issue of finding power generation and collaborating to solve the problem of supply.
The gas business has been evidence of this due to European gas now being available to the UK through the newly built Langeled pipeline with Norway. Prices have fallen and the talk is now of over capacity compared to the predicted winter shortfalls. A lesson in co-operation.
James Saunders a partner specialising in energy with UK law firm Shepherd and Wedderburn.