While many of the responses to the Scot-Govt’s Scottish Energy Strategy have highlighted its vague and opaque rhetoric on decarbonising heat and transport, solar power has been eclipsed and geo-thermal energy has been buried – or forgotten.
And while the Scotland Forum of the Nuclear Free Local Authorities – whose members include Glasgow cooncil – welcomes much of the ambition of the Scottish Government to continue to drive a renewable energy revolution forward, it also calls for greater ambition in a number of important areas, including heat and transport.
The Scotland Forum said that Scottish Government should encourage all public bodies to develop a strategy for solar energy.
Currently most (71%) of UK councils currently have no strategy or plan for future solar investment, and no target for future deployment, while 70% have no plans to deploy solar in the next five years.
Many councils blame changes to government subsidy schemes, with 47% citing cuts in financial support as the main barrier to investment in solar energy. Lack of capital to provide up-front investment was also cited as a barrier by 23% of respondents, while a lack of internal stakeholder buy-in was highlighted by six per cent.
A spokesman for the Scotland Forum NFLA said: “The priority for the Scottish Government should be to work with energy companies to help them adapt the traditional utility model to the new realities, so that they can emerge from their old, out-of-date hypercentralised structures to become fit for a future dominated by a decentralised model.
“Most, if not all, of the large European utilities now recognise that ‘large nuclear or thermal power plants designed to function as baseload are challenged by the more flexible decentralised model.’
“The centralised model of power production is dying and being replaced by local solar and wind, supplemented by batteries and intelligent management of supply and demand.”
A report from giant multinational investment bank, UBS, which declared that it is “time to join the [solar] revolution” is another example of how the mainstream is beginning to see the future of energy.
UBS says large centralised power stations, like the proposed £16 billion Hinkley Point C nuclear power station could be obsolete with 10 to 20 years. Large power stations will soon become extinct because they are too big and inflexible, and are “not relevant” for future electricity generation, according to the bank.
UBS says solar energy costs have fallen rapidly and the technology is now on the verge of being competitive without subsidies. Battery costs are declining fast and electric vehicles will soon cost the same as conventional cars.
The bank expects home solar systems, small-scale home battery technology and battery-powered vehicles (BPVsto be a sensible investment for consumers in much of Europe by 2020.
The UBS report follows similar analysis by other large financial institutions and energy experts who expect new solar and renewable technologies to drive rapid change in large scale utility companies
The NFLA added: “It is also surprising not to see more on energy storage and working with public sector housing providers on projects which, for instance, combine solar PV and battery storage or heat batteries for tenants suffering from fuel poverty.
Meanwhile, supporters of geothermal heat energy will be disappointed to read only one passing mention to this energy source in the draft Scottish Energy Strategy.
It is already known that there is potential to deploy geothermal energy on a very wide scale in Scotland.
A £250,000 Challenge Fund was launched by the Scottish Government in March 2015 to explore the roll-out of geothermal energy projects. This was intended to build on the experience of housing projects in Shettleston and Fife.
Scotland’s Midland Valley features a network of abandoned mines in many areas. These are now flooded and could play an role in future in energy supply, providing access to thermal reservoirs.
Already, small-scale housing projects in Glenalmond Street, Shettleston, and at Lumphinnans in Fife use water from disused mines to provide the heat for members of the local community.
Plans to drill a deep geothermal well below Aberdeen could help position the region as a global energy hub and highlight the potential from this form of energy for the rest of the UK.
A report by Iain Stewart, professor of geoscience communication at Plymouth University, says Scotland could do more with the geothermal resources on its doorstep as part of a push for clean, renewable energy.
Stewart’s study into the feasibility of installing a deep geothermal single well at the new site of the Aberdeen conference centre, at a cost of £1.5m-£2.5m, concludes that it represents a unique opportunity.
Stewart said the scheme would supply low-carbon heat to the AECC and nearby homes, be a catalyst for deep geothermal energy in Scotland by acting as a showcase project, work as an educational tool to raise public awareness, and help develop crossover skills with the oil and gas industry.
The project does not require fracking and so it is more likely to be acceptable to the public than some other geothermal projects involving “stimulation techniques”.
Aberdeen is one of five areas where geothermal feasibility studies have been backed by the Scottish government. The others areas are Guardbridge in Fife, Polkemmet in West Lothian, Hartwood in North Lanarkshire, and Hill of Banchory in Aberdeenshire.
Another pioneering scheme in North Lanarkshire could see around 700 households benefit from a source of warmth from the legacy left behind by Scotland’s coal-mining past. In a joint effort with local councillors, scientists from the James Hutton Institute are exploring the possibility of creating a geothermal district heating system by tapping the warmth of underground floodwater at the disused Kingshill Colliery at Allanton.
The NFLA spokesman added: “The Scottish Government published the independent scientific reports it commissioned on the prospects for four geothermal energy sites – just hours before parliament was dissolved in May 2016.
“The expectation then was that a future strategy for geothermal energy would be included in the Scottish Energy Strategy, but this does not seem to have happened.”
The NFLA also said it is important to start working on route maps for the Orkney, Shetland and Western Islands to achieve energy independence using a combination of renewable electricity, hydrogen and green gas to provide electricity, heat and transport fuels – rather than waiting for the UK Government to approve grid connections which may never happen.
How YOUR Scottish Energy News helps shape the Scot-Govt. draft Scottish Energy Strategy
The NFLA Scotland Forum response to the Scot-Govt’s draft Scottish Energy Strategy has been strongly influenced by Scottish Energy News, which is cited in its references, as follows:
- Scottish Energy News 4th July 2016 http://www.scottishenergynews.com/scotlands-leading-housingheatnetwork-set-to-grow-with-11-million-investment-plan/
- Scottish Energy News 22nd April 2015 http://www.scottishenergynews.com/norway-town-generates- 85- of-its-heat-for-17th-cost-of-gas-without-emissions-thanks-to-glasgows-star-renewable-energy/
- Scottish Energy News 3rd April 2016 http://www.scottishenergynews.com/scot-govt-publish-resultsoffirst-geo-thermal-energy-feasibility-studies/
- Scottish Energy News 11th May 2016 http://www.scottishenergynews.com/orkney-selected-for-neweuwide-hydrogen-power-project/
For full article http://www.scottishenergynews.com/scotlands-renewable-future-delivers-draft-new-scottish-energy-strategy/
Scot-Govt. pledges £50m investment in 13 new low-carbon energy, heating and storage projects in new Scottish Energy Strategy