A NEW blueprint has been drawn up to turn Scotland into a global powerhouse for green energy – a move which economists and scientists say would be transformative when it comes to the wealth and standing of the nation. The study lays the ground for Scotland to take full advantage of the hydrogen revolution. Renewable hydrogen would not only satisfy all our domestic energy needs, but it could also be exported. Until now it’s been impossible to properly store and export green energy. The Scottish economist and scientist who head up the new HIAlba-Idea think tank say Scotland could effectively fuel the proposed European supergrid, and generate so much money for the economy that the nation could establish a Sovereign Wealth Fund, as Norway did with North Sea oil. The UK failed to set up such a fund. HIAlba-Idea, the first think tank based in the Highlands, is run by the economist Professor Ronald MacDonald, and the mathematician, scientist and engineer Dr Donald MacRae. MacDonald is professor of macroeconomics at Glasgow University’s Adam Smith Business School. He has been a consultant adviser to the European Central Bank, the European Commission, the World Bank, the IMF and the UK National Audit Office. MacRae has held under-secretary positions in the Australian government and was a director with Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). MacRae’s work with CSIRO is key to the blueprints which the think tank is releasing tomorrow – called Hydrogen Scotland: A Route to Export Powerhouse and Maximising Scotland’s Wellbeing While Bravely Innovating. Australia has started to use solar power to develop renewable hydrogen. Hydrogen can be produced using solar, wave or wind power, and can then be used as a cheap, clean, plentiful energy source, and exported for the first time. Some have described the process as bottling sunshine and wind.The new technology is being hailed as the solution to many of the West’s environmental, economic and social problems. MacDonald says the energy revolution would solve the “tail-off in productivity of the Scottish and UK economy”, which came about with the shift from manufacturing to services. Renewable hydrogen is “the big transformative idea”, he says, which would “take us back to being a manufacturing economy and an export power house”. He added: “The revolution is having this cheap, storable and transportable energy.” MacRae called it “a game-changer”. While Scotland – and Orkney in particular – are making good progress with the technology, Australia has already created a “roadmap” for commercial use of renewable hydrogen. South Korea plans to convert its 26,000-strong fleet of buses to hydrogen, and Australia is eyeing the market for exports. Japan is also moving toward the use of more hydrogen vehicles.
Herald 24th March 2019 read more »