IndyRef2: Scot savages referendum calls during cost crisis

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Michael Matheson, Scotland’s Energy Secretary has unveiled a major plan to boost the production of hydrogen, placing it at the heart of the SNP’s plans to launch a second Independence Referendum. He added that becoming independent would hand Scotland powers and levers needed to reform the energy market, which would lead to a “stronger, more resilient supply with lower costs”. Hydrogen has been regarded by some experts as a holy grail solution to the energy crisis, which the UK hopes will one day replace natural gas. While the gas alternative does not emit greenhouse gases when burned, some critics have questioned the efficiency and cost-effectiveness for heating homes.

Mr Matheson is set to fly to Brussels later this week in a bid to boost Scottish hydrogen production during European Hydrogen Week, and is also set to meet with ket industry figures and minsters from Belgium and Netherlands to discuss North Sea hydrogen infrastructure.

This visit comes following a paper published last week, laying out plans to enhance Scotland’s renewable energy production through a range of sources like hydrogen and offshore wind power. 

The paper, published in the Building a New Scotland series, placed renewables energy generation, which even included sources like onshore wind, tidal and wave power, at the heart of a “new Scottish economy”.

Mr Matheson said:  “Hydrogen may be Scotland’s greatest industrial opportunity since oil and gas. It will play a key role in delivering net zero in industrial and heavy transport use and in the domestic economy, potentially heating our homes and buildings and there is significant export potential.

“The recently published economy prospectus paper for an independent Scotland sets out how we would put renewable energies, such as hydrogen, at the centre of the economy.

“Scotland is an energy-rich country, becoming independent would give us the powers and levers to reform the energy market and ensure a stronger, more resilient supply with lower costs.

“European Hydrogen Week is an excellent opportunity to showcase everything Scotland has to offer and to work closely with our European friends and partners on the key issues we must collectively address to realise the full potential of hydrogen as part of the green energy transition.”

Hydrogen could prove to be a vital lifeline as UK scrambles to wean itself off expensive gas after its vulnerability to volatile international markets was exposed amid the bills crisis.

This comes as Ian Blackford, the SNP Westminster leader, said that energy-rich Scotland would no longer have to share with the UK, resulting in stronger energy security and smaller bills.

The UK has been facing an ongoing rise in energy bills, with many voters faced with the prospect of having to choose whether to heat their homes or eat. Mr Blackford argued that independence would allow Scotland to minimise the growing costs and refocus the attention on greener policies.

While Britain only got four percent of its gas from Russia last year, Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine and his supply cuts to Europe still sent gas prices in the UK soaring as the market is integrated, with suppliers hit and billpayers across the country footing the bill.

Addressing the SNP Conference in Aberdeen earlier this month, Mr Blackford said: “We know the scale of the opportunities that independence will offer.

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“But we only have to look at the current context. Scotland is energy-rich – we simply shouldn’t be facing an energy emergency. We shouldn’t have cold homes and soaring bills.

“We produce six times more gas than we consume and nearly 100 percent of the equivalent of our electricity consumption already comes from renewables. This is Scotland’s energy and it should serve Scotland’s people.”

Mr Blackford accused the Westminster Government of blocking Scotland’s potential to invest in green energy as he argued breaking away from the UK would secure Edinburgh powers to deliver on pursuing a new “green revolution.”

He continued: “We need to take the Westminster hand break off Scotland’s energy potential. The Westminster Group launched a new report mapping out the road ahead and the opportunities before us.

“From offshore and onshore wind, hydrogen, solar, tidal and carbon-capture, we have a golden opportunity to lead an energy transition that secures net zero, enhance energy security and lowers energy costs for consumers.”

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