经济学人:苏格兰可再生能源崛起 或因独立遭受重击
日期:2016-10-13 07:37



Renewable energy in Scotland
Caution to the wind
How independence might threaten one of the SNP’s favourite industries
Twenty minutes from the centre of Glasgow, the tussocky expanse of Eaglesham Moor is popular with dog-walkers and cyclists. These days they enjoy some 90km (56 miles) of paths that have been built on the moor around Whitelee, Europe’s second-biggest onshore wind farm, by the operator, ScottishPower. The site’s appeal is twofold: it is close to a large number of electricity-consuming homes; and a barren moor makes a less controversial place to scatter 215 turbines than, say, a picturesque Highland mountainside. Whitelee’s success—it has expanded twice since starting operations in 2009—reflects the growth of Scotland’s renewable-energy industry as a whole.


In 2011, for the first time, renewables were the second-biggest source of electricity generated in Scotland, accounting for 27%, behind nuclear power but ahead of coal and gas; in England, renewables generated only 6% of the total. Stand, buffeted, on Eaglesham Moor and you get an inkling of why: around a quarter of all Europe’s wind energy crosses Scotland’s land mass and surrounding waters. Factor in its potential in tidal and wave energy, plus an expertise in North Sea oil and gas that can be transferred to greener industries, and the notion of Scotland as a “Saudi Arabia of renewables” does not seem too far-fetched.
The political climate helps, too. At Westminster, bickering within the coalition, especially over wind farms, has stymied progress over renewables. By contrast, the Scottish National Party (SNP), which runs Scotland’s devolved government, has spent years talking up the country’s renewable-energy prowess and British dependence on it. With some justification: Scotland exported 26% of the electricity it generated to the rest of Britain in 2011, and transfers to England are at a record high. The SNP touts energy as a central plank of an independent Scotland’s economy, should voters opt for separation in next year’s referendum.
Alex Salmond, the first minister, vows that Scotland will generate the equivalent of 100% of its electricity needs from renewable sources by 2020. That pledge might be tough to meet should oil and gas prices fall, making renewables look costlier; but his administration has at least backed his words with action. Within the devolved arrangements, planning decisions are Scotland’s main lever over energy policy. Since 2007, when Mr Salmond first took office, his ministers have approved many more applications for large wind farms (ie, those with a generating capacity of over 50MW) than the Westminster government has for England and Wales. Foreign firms have noticed this enthusiasm for the sector: Areva, Gamesa and Samsung have all said they will open factories making kit for offshore turbines in Scotland.
苏格兰首席部长萨尔蒙德(Alex Salmond)许诺,到2020年苏格兰有望实现电力完全无碳化。但如果油气价格下跌,可再生能源随之上涨,这一承诺便很难实现。不过,萨尔蒙德当局政府仍为实现这一目标付诸实践。在任期间,苏格兰将谋划决策作为控制能源政策的主要手段。自2007年萨尔蒙德先生第一次上台起,当局政府通过了大量的大型风力发电厂的申请(例如,产能功率大于50MW),远远超过了威斯敏斯特政府供给给英格兰和威尔士的发电厂数量。苏格兰政府对能源板块的大力扶持吸引了全球许多知名企业关注:法国的阿海珐集团、西班牙的歌美飒公司以及韩国的三星公司已经决定在苏格兰开设工厂建设海上发电基地。
But external factors have helped, too. In particular, a European Union directive requires Britain to derive 15% of its energy demand from renewables by 2020. Generators of such energy get subsidies from a Westminster scheme funded by consumers throughout Britain. That is a major boon to Scotland’s renewables industry. It is also, potentially, the cause of its biggest worry—one among several.
Not everyone is as sanguine about wind farms as the ramblers on Eaglesham Moor. Elsewhere, the proliferating turbines are contentious. As in England, the two strands of environmentalism—the push for green energy and the desire to keep nature pristine—still conflict. Moreover, for most other sites, transmission costs are high. National Grid, which operates the British transmission system, charges electricity generators according to their location relative to demand; Scotland’s windiest spots tend to be remote. Meanwhile, as Professor Paul Younger of Glasgow University points out, Scotland still needs to plug an impending gap in its supply of “baseload” energy (power that is available day and night, regardless of the weather). Buying more gas is the likeliest solution
对于风力发电厂,不是每一个人都如同伊格尔沙姆的漫游者一样乐观。在其他地方,涡轮机数量的增加是备受争议的。在英格兰,两派环境保护论仍然争论不休——一方希望推动绿色能源发展,另一方则希望保持自然的纯洁性。此外,对大多数其他地方来说,输电费用也很昂贵。负责英国电力运输的国家电网,根据电厂与需求地的远近来收取费用;而苏格兰风力最强点则位置偏远。同时,正如格拉斯哥大学的Paul Younger教授所说,弥补“基本装载”能源的供给仍是苏格兰的当务之急(指无论天气好坏,白天晚上都能利用的能量)。要解决这个问题,购买更多的天然气是最优选择。
Beggar they neighbour
But, despite the SNP’s enthusiasm for both, the biggest shadow over Scotland’s renewables industry is cast by independence. A separated Scotland would probably remain part of the same British energy market: all sides benefit from a system that allows the easy transmission of electricity from England’s power stations to Scotland when the winds are calm up north, and from Scotland’s wind farms to the south on days when they have excess capacity.
The worry is the impact that independence might have on how Britain applies that EU directive. At the moment, no one knows exactly what that will be; but Britain’s government might well prefer to invest in its own renewables industry rather than subsidising Scotland’s, or to buy cheap renewable energy from elsewhere in Europe. Scotland’s competitively priced onshore-wind power would probably find a buyer, but more expensive offshore, tidal and wave energy could be a harder sell.
Fergus Ewing, Scotland’s energy minister, suggests that England, which itself faces an energy shortfall, will need Scottish power regardless: “England will need Scottish energy to keep the lights on by 2015,” he says. But it would be ironic if independence were to undermine one of the SNP’s flagship industries.
苏格兰的能源部长费格斯·尤因 (Fergus Ewing)指出,面临的能源短缺的英格兰无论怎样都会需要苏格兰的能源:“英格兰一直到2015年都需要来自苏格兰的能源把灯点亮,”他说道。如果因为独立而破坏了苏格兰的支柱产业之一,可真是令人啼笑皆非。翻译:朱大素



1.be popular with 受...欢迎

例句:His engaging personality made him popular with his peers.

2.for the moment 暂时;目前

例句:You've got enough to think about for the moment.

3.point out 指出

例句:Critics point out that the prince, on his income, should be paying tax.

4.power station 发电站

例句:A workman was plucked from the roof of a burning power station by a police helicopter.

  • independencen. 独立,自主,自立
  • availableadj. 可用的,可得到的,有用的,有效的
  • minutesn. 会议记录,(复数)分钟
  • contentiousadj. 好辩的,好争吵的,有争议的
  • pledgen. 保证,誓言,抵押,抵押品 vt. 保证,发誓,以
  • derivev. 得自,起源,引申于
  • impactn. 冲击(力), 冲突,影响(力) vt. 挤入,压紧
  • supplyn. 补给,供给,供应,贮备 vt. 补给,供给,提供,
  • dependencen. 依赖,信赖,上瘾
  • contrastn. 差别,对比,对照物 v. 对比,成对照 [计算机]