Renewables – Scotland

Renewable energy in Scotland is facing multiple threats including the end of subsidies, rising planning fees and a shortage of viable new technologies. There is a “perfect storm” of challenges approaching, according to Scottish Renewables, which represents the green energy industry. UK government feed-in tariffs, which support small-scale and household generators such as solar panels or wind turbines, will come to an end next month. The Scottish government will also increase fees for planning applications, up to a maximum of £280,000 for the largest projects. Scottish ministers were forced to scale back the reform, which would have led to fees increasing tenfold, after an industry backlash. Paul Wheelhouse, Scottish energy secretary, said that the scaled-back plan could still lead to “marginal” projects being axed. The last of the wind farms approved in 2015, when the Conservative government announced that onshore wind would no longer be eligible for subsidies, is due to be completed this summer. Scottish Renewables said this would have “enormous implications” for the supply chain, which would have to find new ways to make money. The onshore wind sector supports 8,000 jobs, amounting to half of Scotland’s total renewables workforce. Some of those jobs will be maintained operating and maintaining existing wind farms, but many will be at risk when the last new project is completed. Ageing wind farms are reaching the end of their operational life with no support for replacement. About 10 per cent of Scotland’s large wind farms will have reached 20 years of life by 2025, and will probably be lined up for decommissioning, according to Scottish Renewables. This will rise to about a third of onshore wind farms by 2030.

Times 12th Feb 2019 read more »

Posted: 12 February 2019

Energy Policy – Scotland

A PUBLICLY owned energy company as proposed by the Scottish Government presents significant opportunities to show leadership in developing renewable and low-carbon energy supplies, as well as tackling climate change and other environmental issues, according to a new report. Powering Our Ambitions, from the Common Weal think tank, also suggested the new company could address the need to provide low-cost, low or zero-carbon energy to Scotland’s fuel poor and other vulnerable householders. Their report looks at the role of a Scottish National Energy Company (NEC) and sets out the case for a Scottish Energy Development Agency (SEDA). Report authors – Dr Keith Baker, Gordon Morgan, Dr Ron Mould and Iain Wright – warn that it would be a “serious missed opportunity” if the NEC was simply seen as a publicly owned energy supply company, which would have “limited opportunities” to tackle such problems and only a “slight effect” in lowering retail fuel costs. They also want a SEDA to be set up as a commercial entity alongside the NEC, which would be regulated by Ofgem until a Scottish regulator was established. “This dual approach should largely mirror the successful approach adopted by the Danish Energy Agency,” they said. A fundamental aim of the NEC should be the strategic development and delivery of new zero or low-carbon energy supplies to the fuel-poor or otherwise vulnerable households, and to rural, remote and disadvantaged communities. This would bring the development of local, sustainable fuel supply chains – which included solar, wind, solar thermal, geothermal, suitable biomass and hydro – into the NEC’s remit. The authors suggested that the new company should seek to enable, “rather than compete with”, other non-profit and community-controlled energy companies. They added: “But the Scottish Government should, with urgency, look at the assets and infrastructure of the recently closed down Our Power business to see if these might be purchased or acquired to form some of the necessary infrastructure of the NEC.” Craig Dalzell, Common Weal head of policy, said: “Scotland stands on the brink of a renewables revolution that will dwarf anything that could be gained from the remaining extractable oil assets. Scotland is well placed to lead the world to a carbon neutral future. But to do this it must harness its own energy potential and begin the transformations required. This cannot be left to ‘the market’. “Common Weal’s new policy paper … shows how a national energy company and an energy development agency can transform the energy sector from root to branch in order to secure that future as well ensuring that the words ‘fuel poverty’ are forever banished from Scotland.”

The National 8th Feb 2019 read more »

THE Scottish Government has set ambitious targets for decarbonising Scotland and tackling fuel poverty, but these ambitions risk failure without some significant innovations when it comes to buildings and transport. One is their commitment to establishing a publicly owned National Energy Company (NEC) to help transform the energy system and markets. However, it is unclear how it will undertake that task. In our paper Powering Our Ambitions, Common Weal sets out how we believe the NEC should be established and develop over time and, more importantly, how Scotland’s energy policy-making would benefit from establishing a Scottish Energy Development Agency (SEDA). This dual-track approach would mirror the success of the Danish Energy Agency. We believe this can help revitalise moves to rapidly decarbonise Scotland and overcome the problems that arise from viewing the NEC as purely an energy supply company. Witness the sad demise of Our Power – largely funded by the Scottish Government. The SEDA would prioritise and co-ordinate the distribution of funding related to energy R&D, strategic planning and overcoming the rural-urban fuel divide. These sums are considerable and may amount to over £500 million in 2018/19 and a further £1.25 billion in affordable housing and energy efficiency over four years, which must increase to meet climate change objectives. It would prioritise the training of experts in district heating technologies which have the potential to decarbonise heat in homes, offices and hospitals, alongside insulation where appropriate. It would work with local authorities, health boards, housing associations and other agencies to identify fuel-poor and vulnerable households and ensure schemes which meet their needs are prioritised. This would end the present system whereby authorities, in effect, bid for funding. A more holistic approach should enable the wider government’s social and economic objectives to be better incorporated. The SEDA would report directly to the Scottish Government. The NEC would initially act as a preferred contractor for suitable schemes prioritised by the SEDA, particularly district heating schemes, and would employ experts trained through the agency. Most district schemes are unlikely to be commercially attractive to competing energy firms, so the NEC would co-ordinate their construction and own and manage the infrastructure, in much the same way that Scottish Water does. This would ensure compliance with regulator Ofgem. Many technologies can fuel such schemes, notably large-scale solar thermal, geothermal, hydro and wind combined with inter-seasonal heat storage and heat recovery systems. Which is used will depend on the location, so part of the NEC’s role will include the development of local sustainable fuel supply chains.

The National 8th Feb 2019 read more »

Posted: 8 February 2019

Energy Policy – Scotland

Scottish Government policy supports decarbonisation while also promoting increased extraction of fossil fuels. To achieve a Just Transition, what will it take to move beyond these contradictory positions? Ending our dependency on fossil fuels is an opportunity to build a fairer and more equal Scotland. We know that this transition won’t be successful unless it is fair to workers and communities who depend on jobs in high-carbon industries. At present government policy supports decarbonisation while also promoting increased extraction of fossil fuels. As the Just Transition Commission prepares to meet for the first time, we look at what it will take to move beyond these contradictory positions.

FoE Scotland 25th Jan 2019 read more »

Posted: 1 February 2019

Energy Policy – Scotland

The Scottish Government will learn from the failure of Our Power as it continues to develop plans for a publicly-owned energy company, cabinet secretary Aileen Campbell has said. Our Power, the Edinburgh-based energy supplier, announced last week that it had ceased trading, having been set up four years ago. The not-for-profit company had been given loans totalling £9.5 million by the Scottish Government in a move to try and address fuel poverty. At the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton asked whether the Scottish Government could learn lessons from the volatility seen in the market following the collapse of 11 small energy firms over the last year. Communities and Local Government Secretary Ms Campbell said: “We’ll give that commitment to take any learning that we can from the experience that we’ve gone through with Our Power. “Of course, we continue to develop proposals that will deliver the ambition of a public energy company and we’re on track to deliver that ambition by the end of this Parliament.

Northern Echo 29th Jan 2019 read more »

Posted: 30 January 2019

Energy Policy – Scotland

Environmental campaigners claim that it is “credible” for Scotland to achieve “net zero” emissions by 2045, even though ministers’ target is to reduce these by 90 per cent by 2050. WWF Scotland said in a report that if “deep emissions reductions” were made across all sectors and carbon sinks were used to remove greenhouse gases, the net zero target could be hit. Gina Hanrahan, policy director for WWF Scotland, said: “By 2050, the target date under the Scottish Climate Change Act, Scotland could be removing far more emissions than it creates. This report makes clear there is a credible route-map to achieve net zero in the 2040s.”

Times 24th Jan 2019 read more »

The National 24th Jan 2019 read more »

Holyrood 23rd Jan 2019 read more »

Posted: 24 January 2019

Energy Policy – Scotland

Scotland could become net-zero for greenhouse gas emissions by 2045, according to a new report. The study, for WWF Scotland, says reaching the target could be achieved “comfortably” if there is a political and social will for change. It follows a report to the UN last year which warned of the consequences of not achieving targets on global warming. The Scottish government has said it will set a net-zero target once it has a clear pathway to achieving it. A new Climate Change Bill is currently being debated at Holyrood which proposes reducing harmful emissions by 90% by 2050 – up from a previous target of 80%. The target covers a “basket” of greenhouse gases including carbon dioxide and methane. The report, by Vivid Economics, says Scotland has “multiple advantages” to help it reach net-zero, such as an abundant potential for renewable energy and a large land mass for increased forest cover. Trees act as a “carbon sink” by soaking up carbon dioxide, meaning some industries would be able to continue emitting gases. The power and transport sectors can reach zero or near-zero emissions through advances in technology and a transition to electric vehicles, the report concludes. Emissions in industry, it adds, can be reduced by at least 60% without damaging productivity while agriculture could achieve a 35% drop while maintaining current production levels.

BBC 23rd Jan 2019 read more »

Posted: 23 January 2019

Energy Policy – Scotland

The Scottish Government should ramp up investment in environmentally friendly infrastructure projects in order to achieve its climate ambitions, according to opposition MSPs. Experts recommend 72 per cent of public spending on infrastructure should be allocated to low-carbon schemes such as electrification of public transport and renewable power to meet climate change targets and safeguard society. But the latest figures suggest only 32 per cent of government-led investment in the next 12 months will go to schemes considered the least harmful to the planet. Meanwhile, 10 per cent will be paid to high-carbon projects such as oil and gas works and road-building and 58 per cent to neutral developments such as schools, hospitals and prisons. This represents a small rise in low-carbon investment and slight fall in high-carbon compared with the previous year. However, a new report from the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) predicts that future investment is likely to increase for carbon-heavy developments and decrease for low-carbon projects. Patrick Harvie, joint leader of the Scottish Greens, insists ministers must “pick up the pace” of transition to a greener society to stave off environmental calamity and protect communities.

Scotsman 19th Jan 2019 read more »

Posted: 20 January 2019

Energy Policy – Scotland

Record levels of electricity have been generated from renewable sources in Scotland, figures have shown. More than 70 per cent of Scottish electricity was renewable last year, up from 54.4 per cent of Scotland’s demand in 2016. The rise has been attributed to the increased capacity of wind power, which contributed an additional 4,600GWh increase in electricity generation. Energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “These figures show Scotland’s renewable energy sector continues to grow with a new record set at 70.1 per cent of Scotland’s electricity demand that could be met from renewable resources. “This represents an almost 16 percentage point increase over levels seen in 2016 and places Scotland well ahead of the rest of the UK. “I am also very pleased to see so many new projects coming online, with installed capacity reaching a new record of 10.475GW at the end of Q3, up almost 6 per cent on last year, and with a strong pipeline of further projects under construction or to look forward to.

Scotsman 20th Dec 2018 read more »

Posted: 21 December 2018

Energy Policy – Scotland

Scottish state energy firm must be at ‘heart of policy-making’. A publicly owned energy company must be positioned at the heart of policy making, according to a Holyrood committee. Proposals are under consideration by MSPs on whether to establish a state-owned company that would supply household power.

Energy Voice 17th Dec 2018 read more »

THE publicly owned energy company promised by the Scottish Government must be placed at the “heart of decision-making”, according to an MSP. The SNP aims to establish a provider by the end of the current parliament in 2021 as part of moves to tackle fuel poverty. Setting out the plan in October last year, Nicola Sturgeon said energy would either be bought wholesale or generated in Scotland and then sold to householders at “as close to cost price as possible”. But as the Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee delivers its recommendations, Gordon Lindhurst, its chair, has called on the Scottish Government to set out how it will deliver on its aims amidst high expectations on cost, impact and the environment. The Scottish Conservative MSP, who represents the Lothian region, said: “If a publicly owned energy company (POEC ) is to provide cheaper energy and tackle fuel poverty, it must sit at the heart of decision- making and market transition. “However, in an already crowded market place, we would like to see a clear mission statement on how the company plans to build a sustainable customer base, how it will operate, how it will align with existing initiatives, and what extra value it will add.” In a letter sent on Friday, the committee says a POEC must be positioned at the heart of policy making and be “sufficiently independent” from the Scottish Government to avoid breaking anti-competition rules. The advice, which follows evidence sessions and draws on research commissioned by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre on behalf of the committee, also said the company “would have to compete on equal terms with others” for any public sector contracts. It cites the example of Bristol Council, which struck a deal with an outside supplier rather than its own Bristol Energy initiative.

The National 17th Dec 2018 read more »

The Centre for Energy Policy suggested four overarching objectives that a Scottish POEC could have – creating new energy infrastructure platforms, accelerating wider energy system transformation, increasing engagement and participation in the energy system and reducing costs to consumers.

ITV 17th Dec 2018 read more »

Posted: 17 December 2018

Just Transition

Guest blog by Dave Moxham of the Scottish Trades Union Congress: In the light of ‘Gilet Jaunes’ protests, it is clear that radical change, organising, democratic ownership, and government intervention are essential parts of the transition to a low carbon economy. Today, the Scottish Government announced the first tranche of commissioners and the remit of the Just Transition Commission. In our view it is unfortunate at best that the Government did not wait until it was in a position to announce the full membership of the Commission. Perception is vital, and we are now busily allaying concerns about a ‘two-tier’ Commission. We are assured that the final Commission membership will include trade unions and environmental groups, who lobbied for the body in the first place. The sooner this becomes clear, the better. We are however strongly welcoming of the Government’s support for a Just Transition Commission which we believe should endure well beyond its initial two years phase. In announcing its first three members in Poland today, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said “We are committed to achieving carbon neutrality while growing a sustainable economy that improves the opportunities, life chances and wellbeing of every citizen of Scotland, and I am absolutely determined that this will be done in a way that is socially inclusive.” These are important ambitions which the STUC can fully support. Achieving it will require a fundamental rethink of how such change can be delivered.

FoE Scotland 10th Dec 2018 read more »

Posted: 13 December 2018