The leader of the Scottish Tory party has today called for the Scottish government to set up a new Sustainable Energy Innovation Centre to help focus renewable energy development in Scotland.
Speaking on the potential threats to the Scottish economy from British Independence from the EU-bloc, Ruth Davidson, MSP – who leads the Tory opposition to the SNP in Holyrood – said that ‘it is time the Scottish government firmly grasped opportunities presented by new technologies’.
Just last week, the SNP called on the UK government to develop a national renewable energy storage plan for wind and hydro power. See full article here:
Davidson, MSP for Edinburgh Central, said: “Let’s look at renewables. I’ve criticised windfarms when they damage precious countryside, and when their subsidies push up bills for families and businesses.
“But that should not be confused with a lack of belief in Scotland’s potential to be a dynamo of energy production – from many different sources.
“Looking to the future, offshore wind, wave and tidal, renewable heat and energy storage must all have a part to play in powering Scotland forward.
“And I want to see further action taken to push on with that renewable revolution. There is already a huge amount of renewable research and development work being done across both the public and private sectors.
“But there is also a need to better coordinate these efforts. Scottish Renewables* has suggested there is a need for a ‘focal point for this activity to ensure that it is appropriately ‘fostered and guided.”
“They are calling for the creation of a Sustainable Energy Innovation Centre, to provide that strategic focus and ensure that Scotland remains in the vanguard of renewable energy innovation.
- This call was first published six months ago before the Scottish Parliament election in May 2016 by Scottish Renewables. The Scottish Conservative Party made no mention of this in its own manifesto for the Scottish Parliament elections at the time.
“It would draw together businesses, government, universities and communities. It would help support workforce development and education, progress and prove new technologies, incubate businesses and bridge the gap between renewables R&D and the marketplace.
“Offshore wind, ocean energy, renewable heat and energy storage will all be vital in securing future jobs and a new energy system for Scotland. It’s an opportunity we mustn’t miss.
“So today, I’m committing the Scottish Conservatives to supporting the creation of a Sustainable Energy Innovation Centre”.
However, Davidson’s call was met with a cautious response by Scotland’s Renewable Future Forum.
A spokesman cited the risk of (yet) more duplication and overlap between a plethora of existing bodies – both British and Scottish – involved in Scottish renewable sectors.
These include the Scottish government’s own quangoes – like Scottish and Highlands Enterprise (which in turn operates another Scottish renewables quango in the marine energy sector, Wave Energy Scotland).
There are also sector-specific research bodies, such as the Scottish Carbon Capture and Storage consortium of Scottish universities, the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation, the multi-university Energy Transfer Partnership, and the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney, as well as multi-council energy consortia in addition to UK-govt agencies, such as the Glasgow-based Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult (OREC) and Innovate UK. He said:
“To create another government quango – the Sustainable Scottish Energy Innovation Centre – sounds like a positive move on the face of it, but the Scottish Energy Minister would be well advised to fully consult in advance of pulling this rabbit out of his hat in his forthcoming Scottish Energy Strategy.”
A spokesman for Scottish Renewables said that a Sustainable Energy Innovation Centre would not only focus on developing innovative types of renewable energy generation, but would also help facilitate research into the systems and networks needed to make the transition at the lowest cost to consumers.”