The Scottish Government Draft Energy Strategy

The week the Scottish Government launched the draft Scottish Energy Strategy and commenced a consultation period for the plans lasting until May this year. Within the document the plans for Scotland’s heat, electricity, and transport energy sources to be in place by 2030.

At the Strategy and Consultation launch Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse said that it “sets out a modern, integrated energy system that delivers reliable, low carbon energy at affordable prices to consumers in all parts of Scotland by 2050.”

The aim is to build upon the existing Scottish Energy sector, increase energy security, and tackle fuel poverty. This is to be achieved by a number of policies and plans including £50 million to support thirteen renewable energy and low carbon solutions for heating, electricity generation, and energy storage. This follows on from last week’s publication of the draft climate change plan which proposed the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of 66% by 2032.

The new strategy document also confirms that underground coal gasification (UCG) the process used to extract natural gas from coal seams would not play any part in the country’s future energy mix. UCG was blocked by the Scottish government last year after an independent review raised “serious environmental concerns.”

On fracking Mr. Wheelhouse said “We will very shortly launch our full public consultation on unconventional oil and gas so that the people of Scotland can express their views on this important and contentious issue. The results of that consultation will be a key consideration in finalising our energy strategy later this year.”

The strategy document states ministers will then “consider the full range of evidence and make a recommendation to Parliament on the future of unconventional oil and gas in Scotland, and invite members of the Scottish Parliament to vote on the issue”.

Speaking at the Scottish Parliament Mr Wheelhouse said “By the end of 2015 we had seen the largest annual increase in renewable heat output since measurement began, up by more than 1,100 GW hours in a single year. In 2015 Scotland produced enough heat from renewable sources to meet between 5.3 per cent and 5.6 per cent of non-electrical heat demand.

“We can all take pride in such successes however it’s clear that more progress will be required, particularly in the supply of low carbon heat and transport, if we are to remain on track to meet our ambitious climate change goals.

“To maintain momentum, a new 2030 all energy renewables target is proposed in our energy strategy, setting an ambitious challenge to deliver the equivalent of half of Scotland’s energy requirements for heat, transport and electricity from renewable energy sources.

“I hope that members will welcome this landmark proposal given the support shown for such an ambition last month in this chamber during the debate on support for Scotland’s renewables sector.”

Jenny Hogan policy director at Scottish Renewables said the proposals are a “landmark moment in Scotland’s transition to a low-carbon economy.”

The new draft strategy shows that Scotland is serious about building on the fantastic progress made in renewable power over the past decade and maintaining our position as a global leader in green energy.

“Setting a new target for renewables to deliver half of our energy needs by 2030 sends a strong signal that renewable energy will be at the heart of Scotland’s economy and is key to meeting our climate change targets at lowest cost.

“While ambitious, the target is achievable but absolutely depends on the right support from both the UK and Scottish Governments” she continued.

Gina Hanrahan, climate and energy policy officer at WWF Scotland said “The new all energy target sends a strong message to business and industry, both here and globally, that Scotland plans to build on its amazing progress on renewable electricity in the heat and transport sectors.”

Deirdre Michie, chief executive at industry body Oil & gas UK said “I welcome the Scottish Government’s recognition that oil and gas has an important part to play in Scotland’s energy mix going forward and that it is committed to supporting the policy of maximising economic recovery of the remaining hydrocarbons on the UK continental shelf.

“As we decarbonise towards 2050 and beyond, this sector can continue to make a significant contribution to Scotland’s economy. We support 330,000 jobs in the UK, 45 percent of which are in Scotland and many of which are highly skilled.

“The North East is a centre of excellence in areas such as subsea engineering, with potential to substantially grow the exports of supply chain goods and services, which in 2014 generated revenues of £16 billion for the UK economy.”

During the consultation period the Scottish Government will be canvassing views on a potential government owned Energy Company as well as renewable energy bonds.

Mr. Wheelhouse added “I am very keen to ensure this strategy, which helps to underpin key aspects of the Scottish Government’s Climate Change Plan which was published last week, is infused with the thoughts and views of people from right across Scotland and I would strongly encourage everyone to participate.”

The consultation has been greeted positively in Scotland with a touch of added caution. The targets are high however they are certainly achievable. In order for this to happen though there needs to be many changes in how we generate and distribute our energy. The policies discussed will go some way in achieving this but in our opinion more must be done and at a faster pace than previously if we are to reach our goals.

That’s not to say we shouldn’t set targets this high. For the benefit of us and our future generations we have to be ambitious in tackling our greenhouse gas emissions and renewable energy generation. This consultation has set us on the right path but it is what happens next that will be the significant factor in giving us a safe, clean, and secure energy future.

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