The future of energy in Scotland
Scotland’s energy system is changing and the patterns of energy use are changing too. The choices we make about energy are among the most important decisions we face.
At the moment our draft Energy Strategy is in consultation, and we are really keen to hear what you think about it.
Scotland has much to be proud about – over the last 40 years or more we have grown to be known as an international centre of expertise in oil and gas and subsea engineering, but in recent years we have developed an international reputation as a knowledge hub for modern, renewable energy technologies.
Latest figures show that 58,500 people are employed in the low carbon and renewable energy sectors in Scotland and it has been an economic good news story over the last decade.
This growth in our low carbon economy places us at the forefront of the global challenge to reduce the carbon footprint of our energy needs, which is very much at the heart of meeting both our domestic climate change targets and international climate change obligations.
Our 2050 vision is for a modern, integrated clean energy system, delivering reliable energy at an affordable price in a market that treats all fairly. By 2030, we aim for 50% of all energy consumed in Scotland to be met from renewable sources.
The supply of safe, reliable energy underpins the continued growth of the Scottish economy.
We want to see a strong, low carbon economy which will deliver opportunities for suppliers and consumers of energy alike – helping to reduce the damaging impacts of fuel poverty in Scotland, and creating a vibrant climate for innovation, investment and jobs.
However, this is a period of considerable change in the energy sector.
The task to fully decarbonise electricity production has been largely, but not yet wholly, achieved in Scotland – well ahead of other countries – leaving us with a different kind of energy challenge; one where heat and transport now take on even greater significance than electricity albeit this may require growth in the supply of low carbon electricity in order to achieve it.
The car that we drive today, for example, is typically fuelled with petrol or diesel. Our future transport needs will be met substantially through electricity or alternative fuels; presenting new infrastructure challenges and new patterns of behaviour for users as well as the need for further electricity generating capacity.
How consumers embrace these choices will be guided by smart technologies, information on energy use and more openness from companies about the best time to consume energy.
Choices about the scale of supply and consumption of energy have substantially broadened in recent years. Consumers can now generate energy for their own needs, from solar panels or a wind turbine for example and innovative energy storage options, such as heat batteries, are also being deployed.
In the future, groups of consumers may choose to invest jointly in new local energy solutions. The ability to store energy, at scale, is also changing dramatically, with local solutions to complement larger-scale, national infrastructure provision.
We recognise that energy remains unaffordable for too many in Scotland and this is a key concern for Scottish Ministers and Parliament. Fuel poverty creates misery for individuals and families. This is driven partly by high energy prices, but also by buildings with poor insulation and inefficient energy solutions.
There are exciting opportunities to shape our future energy system, and to help tackle the challenges of climate change, affordability of energy, and the efficiency of our energy use.
Over the next eight weeks I’ll be blogging about different areas that the draft energy plan covers, highlighting how the plan may affect individuals and businesses.
We are seeking your views on the vision for our future energy system and how we will seek to achieve this. We are all consumers of energy and have a stake in determining the future energy system.
Just to reiterate: don’t forget to have your say and respond to the energy consultation.