SCOTLAND is becoming increasingly reliant on importing energy from England to keep the lights on, new National Grid figures have shown.


The data shows that while the country still exports more energy than it imports, power is flowing north over the border more regularly, on one in every five days compared to one in six last year.

The statistics add to concern over the closure of Longannet coal power station in Fife, which is expected to remain open until 2020 at the latest and could shut within a year.

Data shows that on Boxing Day, wind power accounted for just one per cent of output in Scotland, leaving Longannet to make up the shortfall. On other days, wind accounted for as much as 40 per cent.

Over the Christmas weekend, from December 25 to 28, wind power met just five per cent of Scotland's demand.

In the three years from 2012 to 2015, Scotland relied on English power for part of 231 out of 1036 days, or one in five.

For seven days in each year, Scotland imported electricity from England for a full 24 hour period

Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP Tom Greatrex, Labour's shadow energy minister, blamed Scottish ministers for what he described as an increasing imbalance in energy generation mix north of the border, meaning the country was more reliant on importing energy during spikes in demand or when the wind was not blowing.

He said: "These new figures demonstrate that the consequence of a relentless pursuit of an increasingly imbalanced energy mix in Scotland is that we are more dependent on importing power from England when demand is highest. We are now reliant on the rest of the UK for power for at least part of one day in every five.

"With power flowing from south to north at crucial points, these figures show how we can no longer comfortably rely on the idea that we in Scotland remain an energy exporter other than at times when there is an over-supply of electricity."

He said the figures would "compound" concerns about the lack of balance within Scotland.

"Having a separate energy generation and transmission framework would have left us at a disadvantage," he said. "On Boxing Day, when wind generated less than one per cent of the power from Scotland going into the grid, Longannet met 40% of our electricity demand through coal. That is why we need to ensure we have a balanced energy mix across the UK for the future - so these peaks in demand and unpredicted low wind yields can be managed.

"Holyrood policies have driven an increasing imbalance in our energy generation mix in Scotland, leaving us more reliant on the rest of the UK for power at times of high demand and low renewable generation, than the rest of the UK is on power generated here."

The Scottish Government said it was Scottish and European energy that keeps the lights on across Britain.

A spokeswoman added: "Scotland is a substantial and reliable exporter of electricity, with well over a quarter of all power generation exported in 2013.

"National Grid director Mike Calviou stated during evidence to the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee on March 11 that around 90 per cent of the time electricity flows from Scotland south to England, with it flowing in the opposite direction only 10 per cent of the time.

"The Government has always advocated a balanced electricity mix, with baseload thermal generation playing a key role, alongside renewables. "That aim is made harder to achieve by UK grid charges, introduced under a Labour Government in 2005, which unfairly penalise Scottish generation."