Thanks to a recent Talking Up Scotland post, I came across some information about whereabouts electricity in UK is produced and whereabouts it is used. Turns out that there’s an UK internal ‘import/export’ market. Some parts of the UK make more than they use and vice versa.
Helpfully the facts are all neatly sorted into ‘regional’ and ‘national’ sets. So at a glance you can see the way the four nations of the UK help each other out with the means to make cups of tea, run industry, watch TV and charge millions of phones, tablets and computers, etc, etc. If you want the raw data you can download it here: Asset Publishing Service UKGov
But if you want to cut to the chase :
This shouldn’t be too surprising. With 8% of the population, Scotland produces approx 20% of the UK electricity. So it’s got to go somewhere. And in the UK the place that needs it is England. The National Grid provide a real-time transfer data. This was the transfers averaged over three days in January when 25% of the English demand electricity was being imported, 14% from Scotland.
Of course it varies a lot depending on the time of day, the weather, the wind. Right now the National Grid says that Scotland is providing 2% of England’s electricity demand with another 4% coming over from France and the Netherlands.
The interesting thing is how much this transfer of energy is worth to an independent Scotland’s economy. I’ve done a bit of googling to find wholesale electricity prices over this period and come up with this reasonable approximation to the wholesale value Scottish electricity exports to England. Total over this period is £8.1billion. The equivalent for imports to Scotland from England is £326million.
What does this mean for an independent Scottish economy?
This is where I get stuck. To a laywoman, ie me, it looks like there will a good business selling electricity produced in Scotland to rUK. And surely that business will produce revenue to ScotGov from company tax and VAT.
Is any of this business included in the GERS figures? Dunno, have looked but can’t find anything specific. But it could be there in the figures that take geographic splits into account.
What about the electricity grid? At present it’s the UK National Grid and it sets the charges that producers pay for electricity transfers. Are we going to have a Scottish National Grid? I hope so. How will that interact with the rUK Grid? Dunno. Does anyone know? Dunno. Though if anyone does it might be Craig Dalziel of CommonGreen. I’ll ask him.