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Potty SNP Minister Thinks He Can Turn Off England’s Electricity

June 20, 2021

By Paul Homewood


Is there any government anywhere in the world more ludicrous than the SNP?



The leader of the SNP has already sent a warning to Prime Minister Boris Johnson over “picking a fight with the democratic wishes of the Scottish people," stating a second referendum was “a matter of when, not if”. But should she be successful, England could face turmoil, according to Fergus Ewing, the Scottish Government’s former Secretary for Rural Economy. He told the Guardian: “England does require Scotland’s electricity to keep the lights on. The reality is that the supplies of electricity in the UK, especially down south, are parlously tight.

On a security of supply basis, England will require to receive imports of Scotland’s electricity for most of the time.”


Does this dolt actually think Scotland owns this electricity? It belongs to the myriad of generators up and down the country, and it is transmitted around Scotland by companies such as SP Energy Networks, a subsidiary of the Spanish company Iberdrola, who own and maintain the grid and transmit part of this generation to the National Grid in England.

But just suppose Scottish electricity was no longer transmitted to England? That is, if course, the situation we often find ourselves at times of low wind, and we simply turn up the gas fired generators instead. But the effects would be calamitous in Scotland.

In 2019, Scottish generators produced 49.9TWh, of which 15.6 TWh was exported to England. Nearly half of that generation was wind – 22.3 TWh.



Wind power is, of course, heavily subsidised. Annual subsidies for Scottish wind farms are in the region of £1.3bn, and these are paid for by electricity consumers across the UK. If that power was no longer exported, the bill would fall on Scottish customers alone, which would amount to £520 per household. The alternative would see wind farms going bankrupt without subsidiesand hundreds of broken down turbines littering the countryside. It would certainly mean no business would dream of building any new wind farms there.

But even worse, what would happen to all of that surplus wind power? Wind farms would have to be paid constraint payments to switch off, which last year averaged £74/MWh. Instead of exporting 15.6 TWh, Scotland would have to foot a constraint payment bill of £1.2bn.

But it gets worse. Nuclear power contributed a quarter of Scottish generation in 2019, but a chunk of this will disappear when Hunterston B shuts next year. The other nuclear plant, Torness, is not likely to be around much longer either. That leaves

Peterhead CCGT and a small amount of hydro and other bits and pieces. Pray, Mr Ewing, what would Scotland do when the wind stopped blowing?

  1. Joe Public permalink
    June 20, 2021 11:01 am

    And similarly, Scotland’s lights would go out without electricity from England.

    See the “Imports, exports and transfers of electricity (ET 5.6 – quarterly)” table:

    • Joe Public permalink
      June 20, 2021 11:06 am

      In the context of ‘keeping lights on’, referring to annual quantities is a red herring. It’s the second-by-second generation that matters. Even Britain’s 25GW of capacity can sometimes fall below 0.2GW of actual generation.

  2. subseaeng permalink
    June 20, 2021 11:11 am

    What an absolute chump. I am a proud Scot and Brit living in England but dolts like this make me so ashamed even to be associated with them in any way.

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      June 20, 2021 12:12 pm

      Slightly off topic but I have learned not to discuss the SNP with my next door neighbour – a Scot – for fear of giving him a heart attack! He and his wife took up senior University positions toward the end of their working careers to enhance their pensions and moved to the Canterbury area fully intending to ultimately retire back to Scotland. Their son and daughter in law moved (again temporarily for work) to Barcelona but continued to be on the electoral roll for a Scottish constituency at a GE. When the 2014 referendum came along none of them were eligible to vote even though the result could theoretically affect their residency status.
      What drove them ballistic was when I told them about a business associate of mine(Polish) who was temporarily resident in Dunbar (working for EDF at Torness). He, his wife and both teenage daughters (the latter two could not even vote in a Polish election) were all able to vote in the referendum. They were not intending to vote so I managed to persuade them all to vote (by proxy as it were ) on behalf of my neighbour’s family to stay in the Union.
      The saddest ultimate outcome in some respects (good for me in others though) is that my neighbours have now decided not to return to Scotland simply because of the SNP and what they feel the country is turning into.

    • Captain Flint permalink
      June 20, 2021 5:59 pm

      Don’t come home mate it is getting worse all the time.

    • June 20, 2021 9:57 pm

      Actually energy is reserved to Westminster. In 1990 Westminster privatised Scotland’s ‘State owned’ generating capacity and Grid, SSEB and NSHEB ( with an impressive mix of coal, nuclear, hydro and gas and two pumped storage plants ). Since then not a single dispatchable power station has been built in Scotland, A unique situation in the world ? Who is to blame for that ?
      Whether you like it or not, the legal responsibility for the costs of the present situation in Scotland at independence will still lie with Westminster, and will be agreed at the independence negotiations.

      • Ray Sanders permalink
        June 20, 2021 10:48 pm

        From Wikipedia “while energy is a reserved matter, planning permission for power stations is devolved.” Try getting planning permission for any new serious power plant (i.e. gas or nuclear) in Scotland. Be honest it is the SNP who are to blame whatever the technicality you may try to claim.
        The crazy thing is that if a new nuclear plant (such as a Rolls Royce SMR) were proposed for Torness or Hunterston or even Chapelcross the real locals and the unions would be very much in favour.

  3. In the Real World permalink
    June 20, 2021 11:18 am

    Typical load of Political Bovine Scatology .
    Wind / Solar gets priority on the grid , so when demand is low, more wind power is in use . Which means the UK does use some Scottish energy because they have a higher percentage of wind generation .
    It also means we are paying more for our power than if we just used UK conventional generation .

    But if the Scots cut off our grid , then theirs would almost certainly fail as our synchronous generation is the only thing keeping their grid stable .

  4. Ray Sanders permalink
    June 20, 2021 11:29 am

    Euan Mearns did some interesting professional work on this. He highlights the extreme danger that Scotland and NOT England are in.
    Remember that Euan is a Scot and certainly knows what he is talking about

    • Joe Public permalink
      June 20, 2021 1:04 pm


    • T Walker permalink
      June 21, 2021 6:47 pm


  5. Derek W Wood permalink
    June 20, 2021 11:30 am

    Silly Fergus! Will you tell him, or shall I?

  6. Gamecock permalink
    June 20, 2021 11:34 am

    Dr. No: “Warn me?”

    ‘Sturgeon’s terrifying threat’

    ‘Terrifying’ is in the eye of the beholder. Mr Hoare seems a bit excitable.

  7. David Allan permalink
    June 20, 2021 11:54 am

    You have it in one: he is a complete dolt. At the same time, he is also one of the brightest in the party.
    God help Scotland.

  8. Douglas Brodie permalink
    June 20, 2021 12:25 pm

    Fergus Ewing said years ago when he was Scottish Energy Minister that the lights in the rest of the UK are kept on by Scottish wind power, ignoring the inconvenient converse. I know from bitter experience that he is impervious to rational argument.

    • Duker permalink
      June 21, 2021 12:26 am

      It seems to be one of those ‘urban myths’ not un-common around the world. Where I live a more lightly populated part of the country seems to believe they ‘keep the lights on in rest of country’…while there is considerable power transfer between the areas – a DC link- its at most 10-15% during peak and that is used up in the capital city and its immediate area! Over night for various reasons the power flows back the other way

  9. Ian PRSY permalink
    June 20, 2021 1:10 pm

    Not to mention the cost borne by UK energy consumers of the cost of getting the energy south of the border.

  10. June 20, 2021 1:25 pm

    Political sabre rattling for the Scottish audience by the sound of it. Contracts can’t be torn up or ignored at will, due to laws of the land.

    • Graeme No.3 permalink
      June 20, 2021 11:22 pm

      Don’t bet on that oldbrew.
      In Victoria the incoming Premier Dan Andrews (Labor) cancelled a road contract. The subsequent Court action left the Victorians $1.3 billion worse off andwithout a road needed to reduce congestion (and consequent emissions). His further actions led to closure of the State’s largest (and oldest) coal-fired power station and a spreading plague of wind turbines.

      Now, after some years, the road is going to be built after all, at a cost of $1.7 billion.
      In some quarters Andrews is known (for his Chinese affiliations) as Do Pi Dan.

      • Duker permalink
        June 21, 2021 12:41 am

        That is Brown Coal, nasty stuff and full of water, the open cast mines are often being flooded and the Yallourn plant was really nearing end of economic life of 50 yrs. [It was a string of half a dozen generators, this last and largest but wont close till 2028] .
        The separate Hazlewood 1600 MW plant closed in 2017 after 50 + yrs as mine was exhausted and the carbon tax issues.
        The power stations are privately owned and thus not under government dictat but carbon taxes make them uneconomic and not able to be used as base load stations. The power companies allways benefit when theres ‘continuous shortages’ so they are happy to shut off their least profitable operation.

  11. Ian Wilson permalink
    June 20, 2021 1:34 pm

    Off-topic, there was a particularly cringeworthy interview even by BBC standards of Alok Sharma (heading the Cop-Flop 26) by Nick Robinson on Radio 4. The fawning Mr Robinson asked him if he was ‘incensed’ when the Whitehaven coal mine was approved (ministers have since reneged) instead of asking, as any half-competent interviewer would, how importing the coal from Russia or China instead of mining it here will help the planet or asking how national security will be protected if we rely on such sources.

  12. June 20, 2021 4:35 pm

    Apparently Nicola Sturgeon won’t have nuclear power because she once belonged to the CND. Can’t see the connection myself but that’s typical of the idiocy we have to put up with here.

  13. Penda100 permalink
    June 20, 2021 5:51 pm

    Totally stupid comments from the SNP loon but doesn’t it point up the stupidity of relying on others for your electricity supply when some (Macron?) might be prepared to withhold energy for political ends?

  14. June 20, 2021 6:32 pm

    And ….. “Renewables produced 97.4% of Scotland’s electricity in 2020, mostly from the country’s wind power.” Really? THis must be government spin regarding how much of its production was renewable compared to its consumption, but it is a deliberate lie in fact, as it is unlikely wind nad a duty cycle of better than 50%, so half its energy much have come from elsewhere when the wind couldn’t.

    There were long periods when wind was barely contributing to the grid, so Scottish supply did not meet demand, this must have come from English dispatchable generation. And more than half that renewable energy will have been pushed onto the English grid at inflated prices by regressive climate law, also forcing cheaper reliable English CCGT generation to run inefficiently at reduced duty cycles.

    I suspect a balanced look at demand would show that Scotland is massively dependent on the UK, both for its renewable revenues and also its back up when the wind doesn’t blow, while its subsidy habit is forcing our CCGT capacity off the grid when their windmills are working, by bad climate law.

    If the grid was to be cut at the border the UK would be net better off as it won’t have to buy over priced Scottish wind energy or run CCGT power stations in unpredictable duty cycles to stabilise the English grid against the Scottish wind farms. We can run our CCGT that currently backs up the SCottish renewables by cycling to match demand when the reneweables are not 24/7 at unsubsidised tarrfif rates once the Scottish subsidy parasites are off the the English grod.

    That would be the first thing I would suggest. Along with cancelling the £15B pa Scotland gets from the UK in fiscal support, Call their energy bluff the day they leave the Union. Cut the grid to Scotland, and point out it was their idea. Do what Poland do to Germany. And Norway do to Denmark.

    Don’t allow them to dump their overpriced renewable energy on our grid whenever they like, whether we need it or not, and charge them a premium for dispatchable generation backup when the wind don’t blow. We don’t need them, but they sure need us. They gotta ask themselves, “How lucky do we feel?”

    • Stuart Brown permalink
      June 20, 2021 8:05 pm

      Yes. Agree 100%. Except I think you mean England when you say UK. Scotland is still in the UK unless the wee kelpie gets her way.

      • June 21, 2021 11:17 am

        I meant England. Sorry. The sooner we get rid of Scotland, or Scotland gets rid of the power mad egotistical delusionals of the SNP, the better for us. They do have a choice. F***** by the SNP in independnence, or in continued cosy parasitic support from England within the Union, with free University education at English taxpayers expense. etc.. As I wrote, they gotta ask themselves, how luck do they feel? NFI IMO

    • Ray Sanders permalink
      June 20, 2021 10:59 pm

      “Renewables produced 97.4% of Scotland’s electricity in 2020″ is a complete false claim i.e. a lie. What they actually mean is “Renewables produced THE EQUVALENT of 97.4% of Scotland’s electricity in 2020″ Of course some times it produced more than consumption and exported the rest, at other times it produced much less than consumption and had to import power. Additionally this is only in energy units NOT value of those units. In the real world their surplus would be all but worthless whilst their shortfalls really would cost a fortune.

      • Duker permalink
        June 21, 2021 2:26 am

        “Scotland’s net exports of electricity (exports minus imports) in 2020
        was its highest to date at 19.3 TWh”
        ‘2020 was another record year for renewable electricity generation
        in Scotland with 31.8 TWh generated, [ out of total 32.6TWh ‘generated’. what the electricity USED is too tricky to estimate]
        A simple arithmetic shows that gross renewable amounts used in Scotland was a miserly 12.5TWh
        They only have to be importing electricity for 1-2 hrs hr each day to mean they arent ‘totally renewable’ as electricity doesnt get stored ( except in special circumstances)
        Its a lot of smoke and mirrors in these as ‘all electricity’- isnt mentioned at all and working it out is fraught process

      • June 21, 2021 12:04 pm

        If 31.8TWh of renewable were generated and 19,3 exported that means 12.5TWh/0.974 = 12.83 TWh were consumed in Scotland were used in Scotland. The UK is c.330TWh pa. So SCotland is using half the energy per capita than the UK, so is also rather unproductive (2.4MWh pc versus 5.3MWh pc for England). No wonder they need so much in bail outs.

        QUESTION: How much energy was imported during renewable shortfalls? That will show the ;evel of dependence on the UK grid’s dispatchable supply.

        ANOTHER POINT: WE will need more of our dispatchable generation as the idiot’s at Westminster take our grid ever closer to failure with intertialess and over subsidised Offshore wind farms that drive CCGT that we depend upon for cheap clean energy 24/7 off the grid because it can’t compete with heavily subsidised generation that can’t actually deliver when when needed..

      • Ray Sanders permalink
        June 21, 2021 11:21 am

        p.s. the gridwatch website has a data download option. The Excel spread sheet shows rows U and V as the Scotland/England transfers. Every time wind is nationally low then the flow is south to north

    • dave permalink
      June 21, 2021 8:54 am

      “Call their energy bluff the day they leave the Union.”

      Why wait so long? But I will be on Loch Lomond in July, so not just yet!

      The Romans incorporated the (present) Scottish Lowlands into their Empire in A.D. 142, built a spiffy new frontier wall*, but abandoned the region after twenty years and re-activated Hadrian’s Wall. We do not really know why they left. The Empire did not think it important enough to keep a record of the decision.

      Malaria would be my bet. Or perhaps the damn midges. Or a certain je ne sais quoi in some of the locals?

  15. chriskshaw permalink
    June 21, 2021 1:49 am

    Another nutty set of claims from a batty environmental group. May be fun to dismantle, Paul.

  16. June 21, 2021 7:44 am

    Should Scotland isolate their section of the grid from the rest of the U.K. they would find them selves in the dark. You cannot run a stable grid with a large proportion of unstable and uncontrollable generation that is wind. It’s broadly similar to driving a car with a random and uncontrolled throttle control.
    It is the stabilising effect of the whole grid that allows Scotland to run a disproportionate amount of wind.


    • June 21, 2021 11:10 am

      Tell me Iain, How many interconnectors does England have with the continent ? Yet who ever says, ” Should England ever isolate etc.,”.
      And who is in control of the GRID. Certainly not the Scottish Government.
      Scotland is where it is on energy matters because that is what suits Westminster.

      • June 23, 2021 7:49 am


        I’ve lost count, maybe six or so? They are a benefit to both countries (Power flows in both directions) but it is foolhardy to count on interconnectors as part of our supply. Note also that in fault conditions should that occur on the grid where they connect, that they will trip very rapidly as solid state power electronics can’t withstand overload.

        Some politicians seem to think that it is an easy way out and not expand our supply to a capacity that would be prudent. Why we let politicians decide how our vital electricity network is built is a mystery as they demonstrate a complete lack of understanding. (Presumably true in other fields as well?)

  17. Ray Sanders permalink
    June 21, 2021 11:15 am

    I posted the other day the list of existing, under construction and proposed interconnectors to the UK from Europe – all 18 of them. Guess what only 1 (North Connect) was intended to make landfall in Scotland and that one was a privately financed very uncertain one that was actually made illegal for three years by the then Socialist (more so than usual) Norwegian government.
    Scotland only has 1 place (the rUK) to” export” to. The rUK would be able to import from Norway, Denmark, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Ireland and even Iceland as well as produce our own. So when there is a Scottish shortfall (very frequently) they would have only one real option – guess how much you have to pay then!.

    • June 21, 2021 2:46 pm

      Bottomline when wind or solar breakdown
      options are limited.
      whereas if a UK gas platform broke down, there are loads of places we could import oil/gas from

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