Forget (private sector) transport, our Scottish Energy Strategy should focus on national switch-over from natural (but carbon-emitting) gas to (zero-carbon) hydrogen

srf-logo-for-senIN CONFIDENCE: Memo to: Scottish Energy Minister

From: Scotland’s Renewable Future Forum

Re: Scottish Energy Strategy 2017

It is (in energy policy terms) the nicht afore Christmas, and a’ aboot St. Andrew’s Hoose,** Scot-Govt. civil servants are busily drafting the new Scottish Energy Strategy for publication next month.

But mair by good luck than by design – and with the planned full-power generation from the MeyGen underwater tidal turbine power station on the Pentland Firth sea-bed next summer likely to deliver the large-scale despatchable volume electricity needed (allied to current albeit intermittent wind-turbine electricity) – the focus now moves on to de-carbonising heat and transport.

Transport will likely be solved by ‘Mr Tesla’ and his  rival German and Japanese-owned volume car manufacturers – with specialist supply chain Scottish SMEs playing a part in battery design (if not production) – so the remaining key de-carbon variable is heat.

The solution to (methane-emitting, climate-harming) ‘natural’ gas from the North Sea is hydrogen – albeit with Clyde-built heat-pumps from Glasgow’s Star Renewable Energy, solar, AD-bio-power also playing a large part – and counter-part carbon-capture facilities.

Scotland’s hydro power plants will keep on pumping – but it is most unlikely that any new large-scale hydro will be built, while small-scale hydro and community-owned renewables will make a welcome albeit modest contribution.

The existing UK-wide (natural) gas network of distribution pipes to (almost) every household in the UK could be (relatively) easily switched to hydrogen (gas).

This would require the private sector gas network and distribution operators working with central government in the national interest to effect a methane to hydrogen gas switchover – in the same way the 1970s switch from ‘town’s gas’ to ‘natural’ gas was carried out.

It is in this role that the government can now most effectively make a positive contribution in the emerging new Scottish Energy Strategy.

Much of this has already been articulated at Scotland’s Renewable Future Forum conference held earlier this year at the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation. And the key policy outcomes or ‘asks’ – for holistic solutions – from Scotland’s Renewable Future Forum have been submitted already to the Scottish Energy Minister.

scottish-government-logoSee here for full details

Meanwhile, these ‘asks’ are generally repeated in a ‘me-too’ follow-up submission yesterday by the Scottish Renewables Ltd trade association; for instance;

  • Set a target for at least 50% of Scotland’s energy needs to come from renewable sources in 2030
  • Create the conditions to at least treble renewable heat output by 2030
  • Create the conditions to at least double the current installed capacity of renewable electricity generation by 2030
  • Maximise the electrification and decarbonisation of the transport system
  • Become a world-leading centre of excellence and expertise in emerging renewable energy technologies and integrated energy systems
  • Widen the benefits of renewables by growing the Scottish supply chain and developing a Scottish Renewable Energy Bond
  • Ensure Scotland’s public sector leads the next chapter of our energy evolution

** ‘Cooncil’ is the Scots language word for ‘council’ and is not pejorative; Ditto for nicht,  a’, aboot, hoose & mair (Eng. translation; night, all, about & house’)

 Dictionar o’ the Scots Leid  / Dictionary of the Scots Language –

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