As Scottish Nationalist leader Alex Salmond maneuvers for a referendum in Scotland on Scottish independence by 2016, one of the important issues is going to be energy.
The Scottish Nationalists have made an issue of North Sea oil royalties going to Scotland rather than the United Kingdom as a major selling point. Opponents of independence are claiming that the uncertainty following independence could add £900 a year to the average Scottish electricity bill.
This explains why Alex Salmond was in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates last week soliciting investments in the Scottish energy industry and touting the similarities between the Scots and the Qataris.
The Scottish Liberal Democrats in an illustration since withdrawn and apologized for, depicted the Scottish Nationalist leader in Arab dress standing next to a camel. The ad implied that Scotland would be ruled by an absolute monarchy that imposed the death penalty and banned gay rights.
Salmond claims he did get pledges for further investment from his hosts totalubg £630 million. This was not a one-way street and Alex Salmond helped inaugurate the Dubai campus of Herriott Watt University. After doing the first year in Dubai, students will finish their degree in Scotland.
In addition to seeking investments in traditional oil production, the Scottish first Minister was also seeking investments in renewable energy, namely wind farms and wave energy.
However, reports in Britain claimed that Scotland would require an investment of £46 billion to boost generating capacity from renewable energy and additional funds to match the subsidies, renewables that would be cut off off if Scotland secedes from the United Kingdom.
Alex Salmond has shot back by saying that not only would green energy be self-financing, it would also be a major export item south of the border to England. This contrasts with the pessimistic predictions that view Scotland as an importer from England and the continent.
Alex Salmond claimed that his optimism was backed by international companies, such as industrial giant Mitsubishi, Spanish wind turbine manufacturer Gamesa and Korean firm Doosan Power Systems who had all committed resources to Scotland recently. They believed, said Salmond, that only Scottish renewables could keep lights in England going.