Scottish Energy Strategy

There are few surprises in the Scottish Government’s new energy strategy. It followed a consultation conducted at the beginning of last year which drew over 250 substantive responses.

The general principles of the Scottish Energy Strategy remain as set out in the consultation. It aims at keeping prices as low as possible, encouraging low-carbon energy development and security of supply. The six key priorities are to be implemented ‘over the coming decades’ include:

  • Promote consumer engagement and protect consumers from excessive costs
  • Champion Scotland’s renewable energy potential, creating new jobs and supply chain opportunities
  • Improve the energy efficiency of Scotland’s homes, buildings, industrial processes and manufacturing
  • Continue to support investment and innovation across our oil and gas sector, including exploration, innovation, subsea engineering, decommissioning and carbon capture and storage
  • Ensure homes and businesses can continue to depend on secure, resilient and flexible energy supplies
  • Empower communities by supporting innovative local energy systems and networks

Paul Wheelhouse, Scottish Energy Minister, said: “Scotland’s first Energy Strategy will strengthen the development of local energy, empower and protect consumers, and support climate change efforts while tackling fuel poverty. This strategy will guide decisions of the Scottish Government over the coming decades. We want to make sure, within the scope of our devolved powers, good stewardship of Scotland’s energy sector – something we have called the UK Government to step up to for years.”
 This Strategy sets two new targets for the Scottish energy system by 2030:

  • The equivalent of 50% of the energy for Scotland’s heat, transport and electricity consumption to be supplied from renewable sources.
  • An increase by 30% in the productivity of energy use across the Scottish economy.

There is undoubtably a lot of support for the ambition in these targets and principles. The challenge with any long term targets, which stretch outwith the normal political cycle, is delivery. In this respect the strategy remains weak on the road map for delivery. In fairness, the Scottish Government doesn’t control all the levers of energy policy, and even if they did, there are a lot of unknowns. Not least technological change, market change and of course the dreaded Brexit.

One area where more could be done in Scotland is over community energy. The targets and actions are modest and there is still little clarity over the scope of the proposed national energy company. Scotland should be championing municipal energy.

There will be an Annual Energy Statement, which sets out progress made towards targets, statistics and developments, together with an assessment of technological changes and system developments. This will at least provide an opportunity to measure how much of the ambition in the strategy is being turned into practical action.

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