Scotland is facing a difficulty with security of energy supply following the loss of more than half of its electricity generating capacity, and could benefit from more investment in combined heat and power.

That was the view of one academic as Scotland’s Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee heard evidence from energy and engineering experts on the impact of the closure of Longannet power station and Hunterston and Torness nuclear plants.
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Professor Ian Arbon, spokesman for energy and environment in Scotland for the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, pointed out that electricity accounts for only 19 per cent of Scotland’s total energy demand.

He said: “Looking at electricity in isolation is what got us into this mess, it for sure won’t get us out of the mess and I think we need to look at security of supply at the 80 per cent of our energy that comes from fossil fuels and will continue to come from fossil fuels in the heat and transport sectors.

“I think unless we broaden the question and start looking at combined heat and power plants in particular, I think we’re just storing up enormous problems for ourselves.”

Longannet operator ScottishPower has said the Fife plant will ”in all likelihood” shut by March 2016 after losing out on a short-term National Grid contract, while the ageing nuclear plants are due to close by 2023.

MSPs heard their loss would reduce Scotland’s electricity generating capacity by 55 per cent and leave the country dependent on importing power from south of the border.