While the newly-appointed Scottish energy minister and trade and industry secretary take time to come up to speed with their new portfolios, leading figures in the Scottish renewables sector have been able to save them some time.
Notwithstanding the greater UK-constitutional realities under which the Scottish Government does not have full control of all the economic levers, the industry wants to see clear and positive leadership – as well as much more, and much faster, progress to:
Draft new Scottish Energy Strategy
- De-carbonise heating and transport, with specific and measureable milestones and with pre-set annual percentages for the public sector (health, education, local government, emergency services, etc) to measure progress
- Develop and implement the following specific policies to create new employment in Scottish renewables sector
- Greater support – including specific policy goals and measurable milestones – for solar power – ‘even in Scotland!’
- Greater support – including specific policy goals and measurable milestones – for using one of Scotland’s biggest natural resources (cold water) for heatpumps in housing. (This technology is being championed in Glasgow by Star Renewable Energy – but only after it installed a heat-pump driven heating system in Norway)
- Clear policy, practice and delivery, on energy storage – notably battery storage for solar PV systems
- Clear policy objectives for ‘smarter grids’ and active network management – ie policy-led practice rather than ‘simple’ technology-led ‘silo-working’ – ie a ‘system-wide’ approach.
- A supportive policy framework to give both on- and off-shore wind time to become subsidy-free
- A focussed and targeted unit aimed at supporting the development of a Scottish wind turbine and blade manufacturing sector (in the same way, for instance, that Scot-Govt stepped into create Wave Energy Scotland following high-profile corporate collapses in the sector)
- Clear and specific policy goals and measurable milestones for carbon-capture and storage (rather than political grand-standing and party point-scoring)
- Clear and specific policy goals and measurable milestones for hydro-power
- Clear and specific policy goals and measurable milestones for marine/ocean energy
By setting clear and specific policy goals – and measurable milestones – ie by prescribing ‘must-deliver by’ energy type, the private sector supply chain would have a clear and stable addressable target market.
As Alan Duncan of BVG Associates, said: “Without a clear policy objective in support of investment in renewables, how will investors invest?”
Andy Kerr, Director of the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, set the scene for a fascinating Scotland’s Renewable Future.
He said: “This is a very timely conference as we collectively welcome the appointment of a Scottish government minister with cabinet-level responsibility for the environment and climate change, coming on the heels of the incoherent shambles that is the UK government energy policy.
“This new Scottish Government needs to think carefully about de-carbonising heating and should take a system-wide approach.”
Ian Marchant, Chairman of Nova Innovation and also Chairman of the Wood Group – which has a big foot in the renewable energy sector with its Glasgow-based subsidiary – said the Scottish renewables sector is at a tipping point.
It is moving away from the centralised, utility model towards a distributed power and de-carbonised smart grid network.
But he warned: “Scotland – and the UK – are running the risk of throwing away global leadership in renewables technology unless we act now at this tipping point.
“In 10 years, Scotland could be a world leader in marine energy.
“In 10 years, every new building will likely have embedded generation and solar power systems.
“In 10 years, the offshore wind-ustry could easily be cost-competitive with nuclear power – and employ more engineers.
“All these things could happen.
“Equally they might not unless the right policy triggers are pulled now.
Neil Kermode, Chief Executive of EMEC, the Orkney-based European Marine Energy Centre, concurred, adding: “There as much going on <in marine energy development> at EMEC than there is at the rest of the world put together.
“But we need a home market first before we can export our know-how.”
A similar point was made by Alan James, Managing Director of Banchory-based consultancy Pale Blue Dot, said: “Scotland has a strong renewables future, but renewable energy alone won’t deliver the total de-carbon objective.
“Renewable energy and carbon-capture and storage systems have a clear complementary fit, but we need clarity on energy policy.”
Tara Schmidt, Senior Manager, Global Trends Research at Wood Mackenzie, said international trends presently show growth for carbon-capture projects, particularly in China. She suggested this could be a growth sector – along with international consultancy services – for the Scottish renewable sector.
And Lawrence Slade, Chief Executive, UK Energy, added; “Carbon-capture must be a key part of Scotland’s renewables future. Or do we just sit back and let China develop the CCS technology and then we re-import it?”
He suggested a National Commission on Heat and Transport De-carbonisation as a way to focus effort.
And, forecasting a far greater emphasis on de-carbonising heat and transport over the next 10 years, Slade also advised the renewables sector to ‘keep your eye on the consumer’ who will be paying for this.
“Remember,” he said, “solar is subsidy-free at the customer-level. And solar could be a game-changer if it goes hand-in-hand with battery storage on the consumer side, as well as side-by-side in combined ‘hybrid’ solar and wind power renewable energy parcs.”
Wind costs are coming down, and will continue to fall, said Neil Douglas, Director, Natural Power.
“Although there is no single, silver bullet, that will produce an overnight solution,” he told the conference at the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, “costs are being driven down faster than expected.
“And some shallow-water operators closer to shore are already operating offshore wind turbines at less than £100 per mw-hour.
“As an industry, we need to achieve this target by 2020 – which would give us the opportunity to export this expertise internationally.”
A domestic Scotland-based and locally-owned wind turbine and blade manufacturer would stimulate and encourage innovation – and drive down wind power costs, said Alan Duncan, Senior Associate, BVG Associates.
He added; “And if we’re going to have a wind turbine manufacturing and supply-chain industry in Scotland, we need to have a pipeline of projects so industry can invest.
“Scotland has 25% of Europe’s wind resources, but it has virtually no commercial control over Scotland’s ‘green oil’ (renewable energy from wind)”.
Heat pumps, fuel cells and lighter, more efficient wind turbine blades
As well agreement on a ‘system-wide’ approach to de-carbonisation heat and transport, technology – both ‘old’ and new – can also play a big part in this.
Doosan Babock – which began life in Renfrew in 1891 – is mulling the prospect of manufacturing its new range of fuel cells (first invented in 1839 by Sir William Grove) in the town.
Dr. Les King, Director of Technology and Policy at Doosan Babcock, added: “Fuel cells – which also have a more modern pedigree in powering the US space shuttle programme in 1981 – are also environmentally-friendly.
“They use hydrogen and water to make electricity, with no moving parts and can be rapidly scaled up in stacks from 200kw to 2MW, making them ideal in hospitals, hotels, industrial parks and data centres.”
Dr. King cited energy policy in Japan which mandates a fixed proportion of energy to be generated each year using fuel cells as an option for the new Scottish Energy Strategy.
Heat pumps are also an ‘old’ technology – invented in Glasgow in the 19th century. But Dave Pearson, Director of Star Renewable Energy, says they too have a clear and growing role in de-carbonising heating – if the Scottish Government’s new Scottish Energy Strategy mandated this form of power.
After first export orders in Norway, Star Renewable Energy is now installing heat pumps for Glasgow Housing Agency. David Pearson said: “Not only do heat pumps create warmer homes, they also create jobs in manufacturing them and in fitting and installing them.
“Instead of burning gas to heat homes, we’re heating homes and creating new jobs.”
Also hoping to create new jobs – in Scottish manufacturing is ACT Blade, the Edinburgh-based start-up company which has patented a new carbon-fibre and textile material which enables it to make longer, lighter and more profitable wind turbine blades.
Dr. Sabrina Malpede, founder and Chief Executive, said; “With capital expenditure costs on ACT Blades up to 90% those currently on the market, this will make a major impact in reducing overall wind turbine costs.”
As one industry source said: “ACT Blade could do for Scotland, what Nokia did for Finland. Surely this should have a place in our new Scottish Energy Strategy?”
Make your voice heard.
You can copy and paste this Draft new Scottish Energy Strategy from Scotlands’ Renewable Forum to Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Business (energy) at:
And you can also send this to your own local MPs/ MSPs and trade associations.
Meanwhile, here’s a tweeted photo of Alexander Burnett, (right) Tory MSP, Shadow Scottish Energy Minister, with Mark R Whittet, Scottish Energy News, held at Holyrood following SCOTLAND’S RENEWABLES FUTURE conference.