Scotsman Opinion Piece: Greater transparency needed to fuel energy debate, says Andy Kerr

20 November 2013

The availability of cheap, instant energy has underpinned the development of our modern society. But certainties about energy that have existed for a generation are now changing rapidly, both nationally and internationally.

So, we should not be surprised that energy issues, such as prices, costs and technologies, are rarely out of the news – or that those views on different ways of generating and using energy are increasingly strident.

But the information provided by politicians and in the media is too often partial and misleading, designed to reflect a particular political or commercial viewpoint. They fail to provide a transparent debate about social costs and benefits of different forms of energy generation and use. And this matters, particularly in Scotland, where energy is a keystone economic sector.

The recent political and media storm about “green taxes” provides a classic example. Regardless of one’s views about the sense of subsidising renewable energy generation, statements arguing that “green” (renewable energy) subsidies are the primary cause of the recent increases in energy bills are simply untrue.

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