Issue 13

MOVING TO LOW CARBON

By Fergus Ewing, MSP for Inverness and Nairn and Minister for Economy, Energy and Tourism, Scottish Government

At the end of last year, I had the pleasure of addressing the Developing Scottish Infrastructure: Getting Low Carbon Built In Scotland conference, where I outlined the progress the Scottish Government has made in this area in recent years. This included setting out our clear and ambitious policy priorities and highlighting some of the programmes put in place to encourage, support and accelerate the delivery of economic growth and jobs through investment in low carbon infrastructure projects.

Through this we have successfully delivered a marked increase in renewable electricity generation. We are on course to meet our interim target of 50 per cent by 2015, having successfully generated a record 49.7 per cent of Scotland’s gross electricity consumption from renewables in 2014.

The Scottish Government remains a champion of wave and tidal energy technologies, both through the creation of Wave Energy Scotland and through our investment in MeyGen, the worlds largest planned tidal stream energy project.

We have set a clear framework to support the delivery of low carbon, affordable heat through publishing our Heat Policy Statement in June last year, to focus and drive the pace of change and set out a framework for investment in a low carbon heat sector.

With 25 per cent of Europe's offshore wind potential, the development of offshore wind remains an exciting opportunity both for Scotland's economy and climate change agenda. To date we have granted planning permission to the equivalent of a 4000MW development – a quarter of which has secured a Contract for Difference.

We reached our community and a locally owned generation target of 500MW by 2020 five years early. There is now nearly 12,000 individual installations across Scotland of which 61MW is wholly owned by community groups. A great example is Point and Sandwick wholly-owned community wind farm on the Isle of Lewis – at 9MW the biggest of its kind in the UK. We have also tripled the number of installations that are examples of shared ownership from 12 in 2014 to 37 today.

We have set a clear framework to support the delivery of low carbon, affordable heat through publishing our Heat Policy Statement in June last year, to focus and drive the pace of change and set out a framework for investment in a low carbon heat sector.

Retaining our level of ambition to achieve 1.5TWh of Scotland’s heat demand to be delivered by district or communal heating by 2020, we established the Heat Network Partnership Strategy Support Programme to help local authorities develop a strategic approach to district heating. This includes offering a wide range of practical support, such as the Scotland Heat Map and additional funding was also allocated to the District Heating Loan Fund, bringing the total level of support available between April 2014 and March 2016 to £8 million.

To support transformative innovative local energy projects, we set up the CARES Local Energy Challenge Fund, supported by up to £20 million. Four projects are currently being taken forward. A second round was announced in March 2015 and £500,000 was awarded to support 23 projects at the early development stage.

Furthermore we have significantly supplemented project delivery support through the establishment of the £76 million Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition ERDF Programme. This is a Scotland wide, cross-sector project development unit, to support the development and acceleration of low carbon infrastructure projects in the next three years.

Since March last year the programme has:

  • launched the Geothermal Challenge Fund supporting four projects to undertake feasibility work.
  • launched the Water Source Heat Pump Challenge Fund, which is still live, with up to £375,000 identified to support the development of investment grade business cases
  • Awarded funding to accelerate over 15 projects across Scotland with over 30 more being supported to develop their projects.

Energy efficiency is a priority for the Scottish Government moving forward and has been designated a National Infrastructure Priority in recognition of its importance.

The cornerstone of this will be Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Programme (SEEP) which will provide an offer of support to buildings across Scotland – domestic and non-domestic – to improve their energy efficiency rating over a 15-20 year period.

The cornerstone of this will be Scotland’s Energy Efficiency Programme (SEEP) which will provide an offer of support to buildings across Scotland – domestic and non-domestic – to improve their energy efficiency rating over a 15-20 year period.

We are now working with stakeholders on developing the programme, including on pilot projects to test the market, demonstrate innovative approaches, and ensure effective integration. This programme development phase will take place before the full delivery phase begins in 2018, after new powers over energy efficiency have been devolved.

Related to this we have been working in collaboration with the Scottish Futures Trust to deliver a Non Domestic Energy Efficiency Framework. The economies of scale and standardised approach offered by a pan public sector framework is attractive to both the public and private sectors - offering both better, solutions and better value for money. The procurement process for this framework is now entering the final stages and on completion will allow us to start working with partners in local authorities and beyond on the development of a ‘spend to save’ project pipeline.

There is much to be proud of and I hope investment in these projects, and many more like them, will continue to blossom under the Scottish Government’s stewardship.

Of course Scotland is blessed with an abundance of natural resources and our oil & gas industry has provided massive economic opportunities over the last 40 years and is an important feedstock in large scale industry and manufacturing. While facing significant challenges at the moment, the sector still has a very significant role to play in Scotland’s energy mix – not least because of the hugely valuable expertise and experience in our oil and gas workforce. Of course these skills and expertise – especially those relating to offshore working in difficult environments – are hugely valuable for our renewables sector as well and many companies support both sectors.

There are challenges ahead particularly with the low oil price and reducing UK subsidies for renewable energy projects however I look forward to bringing together a new overarching strategy for energy in Scotland over the coming year.

Fergus Ewing
Is MSP for Inverness and Nairn and Minister for Economy, Energy and Tourism

By Fergus Ewing, MSP for Inverness and Nairn and Minister for Economy, Energy and Tourism, Scottish Government

Issue 13

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