Nick Molho, Executive Director, Aldersgate Group: THE Scottish energy sector is poised to undergo a transformation that could, if fully realised, see it at the forefront of the global market for low carbon goods and services, which is already worth over $5.5 trillion. According to the Office for National Statistics, Scotland’s low-carbon and renewable energy economy generated a turnover of £10. 5billion in 2015 and employed some 58,500 people. Scottish businesses have strengths in a number of areas such as tower manufacturing for the wind energy industry, manufacturing of low-emission buses and batteries, cutting edge innovation in marine renewables and the provision of energy efficiency services. Importantly, some of the skills developed in the declining offshore oil and gas sector are now benefiting the renewables sector, with around one-third of marine engineers in the UK offshore wind industry coming from oil and gas. This is happening at a time when the low carbon economy is becoming globally relevant, even more so after the Paris Agreement on climate change. In 2016, some $240bn was invested worldwide in a record amount of new renewable energy capacity, with more than 40 per cent of investments coming from rapidly developing economies such as China, India, South Africa and Mexico. Whatever Brexit means for Scotland’s future, the global shift to a low carbon economy makes it essential for Scotland’s future competitiveness and the delivery of its climate targets to put ambitious, consistent and sufficiently detailed low carbon policies in place. This approach holds the key to attracting greater levels of affordable private sector investment, grow supply chains and put Scottish businesses in the best possible position to tap into the growing export opportunities of the global low carbon market. The good news is that this is essentially what the First Minister and five of her cabinet secretaries committed to doing at the Scottish National Economic Forum (NEF) in Inverness on May 12. The ambition to transform the energy sector is set out clearly in the Scottish Government’s draft Energy Strategy, which moves the agenda forward in a number of respects.
Herald 19th May 2017 read more »