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Scottish Renewables Draw Asian Interest Before Independence Vote

May 11, 2012

Scotland’s expanding renewable energy industry is attracting attention from Asian investors who are unfazed about the country’s prospects for gaining independence from the rest of the U.K.

“We’re currently fielding between five and six visits from potential inward investors per month from Asia in renewables,” Anne MacColl, chief executive officer of Scottish Development International, the trade and investment arm of the Scottish government, said in an interview. Companies from South Korea, Japan and China have expressed interest, she said, without naming them.

Scotland is seeking to get all its electricity from clean power by 2020 to spur its economy and curb emissions. The semi- autonomous region is also planning a referendum on independence from the U.K. in 2014, which has caused SSE Plc (SSE), Britain’s second-biggest energy supplier, to say the plans make it harder to invest in Scotland until the outcome is clear.

“Evidence tells us that there’s a great deal of confidence in the way in which the renewable energy sector is developing in Scotland right now,” MacColl said in London. She cited Gamesa Corp. Tecnologica SA, Samsung Heavy Industries Co. and Mitsubishi Power Systems Europe Ltd., which have announced millions of pounds of offshore wind plans in Scotland.

Citigroup Inc. analyst Peter Atherton told a parliamentary committee April 24 that if Scotland secedes, there is an “element of risk” about whether a U.K.-wide subsidy program supporting renewables such as wind farms would continue. Companies won’t invest without a “100 percent guarantee” that incentives remain in place for a couple of decades, he said.

Oil Expertise

Scotland expects to announce new investors in its clean energy industry this year after attracting 750 million pounds ($1.2 billion) to the industry in the year to October 2011, MacColl said.

A decision by South Korea’s Doosan Power Systems Ltd. to abandon a 170 million-pound plan for wind in Scotland was due to macroeconomic conditions, MacColl said.

With about 25 percent of Europe’s wind power and North Sea oil and gas expertise, Scotland has made renewable power the linchpin of its economic policy under Scottish leader Alex Salmond.

The industry supports more than 11,000 Scottish jobs, according to Scottish Renewables, a Glasgow-based industry group. There is a “pipeline” of 17 gigawatts of renewable projects worth about 46 billion pounds, according to the body.

Scotland needs about 10 to 12 gigawatts of capacity to meet demand and exports unused power, Tom Lamb, head of energy, trade and investment at Scottish Development International, said in the same interview.

“The expectation over the long term is that it will be exported to the European market as well,” he said. SDI is also a venture of government agencies Scottish Enterprise and Highlands & Islands Enterprise.

To contact the reporter responsible for this story: Sally Bakewell in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at

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