Scotland’s Electric Future

Scotland’s longest road, the A9, is to be fitted with electrical charging points its entire length from Falkirk in central Scotland, through Inverness and on to Scrabster Harbour in the very north of the country. At the launch of the project First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the road will show that electric vehicles can offer important advantages to motorists in rural as well as urban settings.

Speaking at the launch she said “Over the next few months we will set out detailed plans to massively expand the number of electric charging points in rural, urban and domestic settings. We will make the A9, already a major infrastructure project, Scotland’s first fully electric-enabled highway.

“This is an exciting challenge and one I hope all members and the whole country will get behind. It sends a message to the world – we look to the future with excitement, we welcome innovation and we want to lead it.”

The policy which is part of the Climate Change Bill also includes the phasing out of new petrol and diesel cars and vans and promoting ultra low emission vehicles by 2032, eight years earlier the current UK Government proposal.

Scotland currently has more than 1,800 charge points – around 15% of the UK total and the highest of any UK region with further plans to expand Scotland’s EV charging infrastructure right across urban, rural and domestic areas between now and 2022, with promises of financial support for local solutions and small-scale research into challenges surrounding charge points, particularly in domestic tenement properties.

The government also plans to transform public sector car and van fleets by the mid 2020s and commercial bus fleets by the early 2030s.

A Transport Scotland spokesman said: “The A9 already has a number of fast and rapid chargers at strategic locations. We recognise that as electric vehicle driver numbers increase so must our charge point numbers to ensure that drivers have the support and confidence to travel the country without experiencing ‘range anxiety’.

“To support our ambition of phasing out the need for petrol and diesel cars and vans by 2032, we will continue to work with each of our delivery partners to further develop the A9, making it Scotland’s first electric highway.”

Friends of the Earth Scotland director Richard Dixon welcomed the plans as “the greenest programme for government in the history of the Scottish Parliament.

“The Scottish Government has put improving and protecting the environment at the heart of their legislative and policy programme. Promises here will reduce climate change emissions, save people from air pollution and help Scotland become a leading example of a low carbon country. This package is a very significant step towards a fossil-free Scotland.”

Scottish Renewables deputy chief executive Jenny Hogan welcomed “recognition of the economic, environmental and social value of renewable energy.

“The announcement of £60million to deliver cutting-edge low-carbon energy infrastructure like electricity battery storage and sustainable heating systems will build on the success of projects already announced under the Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme and further enable our shift to a cleaner, greener economy.

“A focus on ultra-low emission vehicles, and particularly a drive to encourage their uptake by public bodies, will help move our transport system to one powered increasingly by renewables. A new Climate Change Bill which will toughen Scotland’s statutory 2050 greenhouse gas emission target will provide a context for the further development of our industry, enabling renewables to continue to reduce emissions and drive sustainable economic growth.”

While the Scottish Government is planning our carbon free future a new offshore wind farm, which will provide a slice of the clean energy required is according to the University of Strathclyde, expected to contribute £827.4 million to the country’s GDP.

The 450MW Neart Na Gaoithe project could see capital expenditure of up to £2 billion, with around £510 million of this to be spent in Scotland. Operational expenditure is expected to total around £1.7 billion over the project’s 25-year life, with around £610 million of this to be spent within the country.

The wind farm will also support around 13,900 jobs over its construction and operation. The majority of the jackets and piles that make up the turbine structures and half of all maintenance will be procured within Scotland. The facility is expected to go into operation during 2021.

Jenny Hogan, Director of Policy at Scottish Renewables, said: “These new figures show the huge potential offshore wind offers to Scotland’s economy, in addition to the key role it has in tackling climate change.”

With Scotland producing record amounts of clean renewable electricity it makes sense to promote clean use policies. Our transport energy use is one of the largest contributors to our carbon emissions so an increase in charging points along with a constant reduction in new petrol and diesel cars will greatly reduce our overall emissions.

The definitive reduction targets as part of the Paris climate deal will not be easy to meet but it is our obligation to do so. Government policies like those above are therefore necessary for us to achieve these targets.

We will one day all be driving electric cars that much we can now be sure about. The pace of uptake has pleasantly surprised us and as the technology continues to improve, particularly covering the issue of range, we expect this to increase further.

The government policies will also speed up use and as our carbon emissions reduce everyone will benefit.

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