Infrastructure, investment and innovation key to clean energy future, renewable energy industry tells Scottish Government

29/11/2023
Claire Mack, Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables

AHEAD of the Scottish Government’s draft budget for 2024/25, Scottish Renewables is calling for infrastructure, investment and innovation to be at the heart of plans to secure a world class clean energy system for Scotland.

In a letter to Shona Robison MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Scottish Renewables has outlined how the Scottish Government can secure Scotland’s global competitiveness and unlock the socio-economic opportunity of renewable energy across the country.

The submission sets out that new electricity transmission infrastructure and investment in strategic ports and skills are early foundations for economic growth. Other opportunities lie in the decarbonisation of heat and in maximising Scotland’s green hydrogen potential.

Increasing the capacity and effectiveness of Scotland’s planning departments will help secure a more robust pipeline of projects and investment in onshore and offshore wind, and these must be priorities for the Scottish Government.

Claire Mack, Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables, said:

“Scotland’s early mover advantage as a global leader in renewable energy is increasingly under threat from international competition for the supply chains, financing and skilled workers needed to build a net-zero economy.

“To build on the progress we have made so far in taking advantage of our world class clean power potential it is vital that the Scottish Government takes decisive action now to encourage long-term investor confidence and sustainable growth in Scotland’s renewable energy industry.

“To fully unlock the cleaner, cheaper and greener future we all aspire to, the Scottish Government’s budget must include clear ambitions for renewable energy and place infrastructure, investment and innovation at the heart of its plans.”

In more detail, Scottish Renewables recommends action in three areas:

Infrastructure

New electricity transmission infrastructure is a priority for Scotland, with new power lines, pylons and substations needed to meet our increasing electricity demand, while Scotland’s ports are vital to securing the enormous opportunities of our offshore wind sector.

Scottish Renewables recommends that the Scottish Government:

  • supports a public information campaign to highlight why a once-in-a-generation electricity network expansion is needed for our clean energy transition to net-zero.
  • proactively administers and updates the Community Benefits Register to ensure we have a fuller picture of community benefit payments across Scotland.
  • establishes a Net-Zero Ports Consenting Seed Fund to enable the development of potential port and manufacturing projects across Scotland.
  • establishes a Net-Zero Ports Guarantee Scheme to secure crucial funding and unlock private investment in port infrastructure.
  • increases the capacity of planning departments across Scotland and caters for the growing volume of renewable energy planning applications.

Investment

Supporting the growth of clean energy SME suppliers will bolster Scotland’s competitiveness but the Scottish Government must invest in skills to secure the home-grown workforce required to achieve net-zero.

Scottish Renewables recommends that the Scottish Government:

  • creates a £2.5 million Net-Zero Scaling-up Fund to help SME suppliers invest in the facilities, skills and equipment needed to grow in the renewable energy industry.
  • establishes a £10 million Offshore Wind Supply Chain Development Scheme to support SMEs with securing clean energy supply chain opportunities, such as those from ScotWind and INTOG, over the next five years.
  • establish a nationwide Just Transition Tuition Fund for individuals seeking to upskill or enter work in renewables.
  • implements an MCS Certification Fund to support the qualifications of heat pump installers and remove barriers for workers looking to secure high-value, green jobs.

Innovation

Scotland must grasp the export and storage opportunities of green hydrogen to maximise its abundant renewable resource while the decarbonisation of heat remains a difficult issue that will need a variety of approaches to be tackled successfully. 

Scottish Renewables recommends that the Scottish Government:

  • commits to transitioning directly to green hydrogen and set a specific green hydrogen target of 3GW by 2030.
  • delivers a Hydrogen Strategic Infrastructure Plan outlining how Scotland will maximise its green hydrogen production and export potential.
  • increases the funding available for renewable energy systems in the Home Energy Scotland Grant and Loan Scheme to £20 million.
  • commits to city and town-wide district heat networks across Scotland.
  • accelerates the rollout of energy efficiency measures and the critical low-carbon technologies of heat pumps and heat networks across public and private buildings.

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