Green energy revolution is a golden opportunity for Scotland
The transformation of Scotland’s energy system will be one of the biggest economic and societal changes we will all live through.
Energy underpins every part of our economy and our energy industry is part of Scotland’s national economic identity, from coal mining through to large scale hydro and oil and gas. But the Scottish Government has recognised for a number of years that the unlimited extraction of fossil fuels cannot continue.
This week, it released its new Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan, a comprehensive route map for speeding up Scotland’s renewable energy revolution.
The plan sets out how we can accelerate our transition away from fossil fuels and towards renewable sources, enabling people across Scotland to benefit from cheaper, cleaner and more secure energy.
The SNP government is determined to do it in a way that’s just and leaves no one behind, and to harness the massive economic opportunities of Scotland’s abundant renewable resources.
As this plan shows, it is not just the climate crisis — vitally important though that is — that necessitates a just transition away from fossil fuels. The inescapable fact is that the North Sea is now a mature basin — even without the climate crisis, we would have a duty to plan now for life after oil and gas.
In this decisive decade for our energy sector, this strategy focuses on delivering bold, ambitious, near-term action to provide confidence and a clear steer to industry, investors and the people of Scotland.
Scroll below to read all the key points.
Increasing Scotland’s capacity to generate renewable energy
The Scottish Government’s plan sets out how we can substantially increase the current capacity for generating renewable electricity, which is already at record amounts —currently around 13.4 GW (gigawatts).
Wind power is already one of the cheapest sources of energy we have, and there will also be increasing roles for solar, hydro and marine power as Scotland confirms its intention to reject inappropriate and outdated sources of energy such as coal or fracking.
For context, one gigawatt of energy can realistically provide electricity to around 300,000 homes. The aim is to create additional 20 GW of capacity by 2030 – enough to power around 6 million homes, far more than the amount of households in Scotland.
This increased capacity would account for the equivalent of nearly 50% of all current energy demand of households and businesses.
Tens of thousands of new, good, green jobs in Scotland
The plan proposes a Just Transition to renewable energy in a way that ensures no one who currently works in fossil fuels is left behind – benefitting communities and workers across Scotland with high-quality jobs.
A recent report shows that Scotland’s renewables revolution can create over 380,000 jobs, and also increase the number of jobs in other sectors such as manufacturing.
Analysis shows the number of low carbon jobs in energy production is estimated to rise from 19,000 in 2019 to 77,000 by 2050 as the result of a just energy transition, delivering a 58,000 increase in jobs. This would mean there are more jobs in energy production in 2050 than there are now.
For some, particularly in the northeast where the oil and gas industry has been a major employer for so long, the scale of change required can feel deeply uncertain and worrying. But if we do it properly – with a determination to leave no community behind — it is in fact a huge opportunity.
The Scottish Government’s £500 million Just Transition Fund will support the North East and Moray to become one of Scotland’s centres of excellence for the transition.
And we are already seeing the employment benefits from the development of Scotland’s booming offshore wind sector. Scotland is now the best performing part of the UK in the PWC’s Green Jobs Barometer.
Powering ahead with renewable and low-carbon hydrogen
The plan also sets an ambitious target to generate 5 GW of hydrogen power by 2030 – the equivalent of a sixth of Scotland’s energy needs – with a further 25 GW by 2045.
This would provide a clean and sustainable alternative to fossil fuels, and would help to decarbonise heavy industry and transportation.
Scotland is already a leader in innovative hydrogen energy solutions, with the world’s first hydrogen-powered double-decker bus fleet in Aberdeen or the world’s first hydrogen-powered heating network currently being developed in Fife.
The Scottish Government’s proposals help to take the hydrogen industry further, maximising all the opportunities for good, green jobs that come with it.
Exporting surplus electricity to boost our economy
Increasing the generation capacity across renewable energy and scaling up the generation of renewable hydrogen will ensure we have enough to export to Europe and the rest of the world.
Exporting surplus electricity and hydrogen would cement Scotland’s position as a green energy powerhouse, while generating more economic growth to benefit our people and communities.
At the same time, exporting our surplus would also support decarbonisation in Europe, helping to achieve Net Zero as quickly as possible and tackling climate change.
Cheaper energy bills and more secure supply for all
Scotland is an energy-rich nation and the Scottish Government plan seeks to ensure that our massive renewable energy resources benefit everyone in Scotland through cheaper bills.
Delivering on this strategy to its full extent requires powers we do not currently have, for example to reform energy markets, deliver grid infrastructure upgrades or license the Acorn carbon capture and storage project around Peterhead.
The strategy sets out the specific, pragmatic actions that need to be taken by the UK Government to deliver an outcome that is in all of our interests. The SNP is urging the UK Government to introduce a windfall tax that applies to all companies benefiting from significantly higher profits, reform the energy market or devolve the powers to Scotland.
With the full powers of independence, we will be properly equipped to harness our potential in renewables and tackle the injustices such as the unfair energy transmission charges set at Westminster.
By setting bold targets for renewable energy generation and hydrogen power, as well as efforts to increase contributions from solar, hydro, and marine energy, the SNP Scottish Government is working hard to make the most of Scotland’s renewable energy resources.
Of course, a transition of this pace and scale cannot be achieved by government alone, and the Scottish Government will work with business and investors to attract the capital and inward investment that is needed to make it happen. It will support communities to benefit from, own and invest in renewable generation in their areas.
Scotland has the natural resources, skills and people to be a global leader of an energy transition that rises to the climate change challenge, delivers energy security and provides an economic transformation that will support and enrich our communities. We have a duty to seize it.
Together, we’re building a fairer, greener, better future for all – and with the full powers of independence, we’ll be able to supercharge our potential.
You can read the full paper on the Scottish Government website.