How can we develop an effective sustainable energy strategy that also ensures a just transition?

Recently the IET responded to a Scottish Government consultation on their vision and strategy for sustainable energy production and use, whilst also ensuring the benefits of transition to a green economy are shared widely and equitably.  This is certainly a very difficult nut to crack, for Scotland and for the other UK governments.

We think that Scotland needs to do more and work quickly to achieve its net zero vision.  Together, a range of technologies can provide holistic short to long-term economic and social benefits and minimise negative consequences.  The solutions are challenging, but they can help deliver a Just Transition and provide energy security and resilience.  Our key recommendations are as follows: 

  1. Keep the current vision targets. They are already challenging and need to remain achievable.
  2. Develop and implement a robust, whole system engineering plan for net zero across the energy spectrum. This will give greater understanding of how the vision, its ambitions, roadmaps and outputs can be best managed, taking account of the mix of sustainable energy sources, infrastructure, usage and capacity.  Without an integrated plan, siloed approaches can result in sub-optimal delivery.
  3. Provide political leadership and develop long-term cross-party commitment at international, national and local levels.
  4. Maintain Scotland’s energy resilience and security in its transition to net zero. Pragmatically this may involve a longer phasing out of fossil fuels, though it supports a Just Transition by mitigating against fuel poverty.
  5. Incentivise local green industrial initiatives by reviewing potential barriers such as administration, planning, regulation and funding. This can help create local jobs, provide well-paid careers and generate national economic benefits.  Where necessary, provide funding, especially for the early-stage industrial development of sustainable solutions.
  6. Provide the means to sustain interest in the STEM-related subjects of students from an early school age.
  7. Research the opportunities provided by CCUS, recognising its revenue generation potential.
  8. Provide financial support for sustainability initiatives by households that cannot afford net zero measures.

We recognise that some of these proposals may not be welcome, but we included them to be realistic. We think they are needed to catalyse political, industry, academic and societal buy-in, so as to meet energy needs cost-effectively and provide for a just transition, especially for lower socio-economic communities.

What are your thoughts?  For example Scotland has not included nuclear in its plans.  To what extent could that damage the strategy for sustainable energy?  Does it make a just transition significantly more difficult?

  • Yes, I agree with the long term logic but please itemise exactly what needs to be done this year with MBO target start,  interim and finish dates  

    1. Exempt planning permission for solar panels on house roofs.

    2. Funds and plan to convert all hydro plants to allow pumped storage as well where possible.

    3  Plan and funds to Rehab existing nuclear stations

    4. Tidal/wave energy projects with Management By Objective [MBO] target dates plus commitment by the government through university grants..

    5. Give tax relief for double glazing and roof/wall insulation for old houses on receipt of materials purchased list and cert for class D compliance.

    6. ????


  • Unfortunately this is all just Rhetoric and Greenwashing. There is no engineering content at all. What I would expect from the IET is something like a Capital Expenditure Request seeing as the plans appear to involve spending Billions or Trillions.

    What is the objective?

    What is the background to this request?

    What is the proposed solution?

    What are the time scales?

    What resources are required?

    What is the cost?

    What is the payback or other justification?

    What are the alternatives?

    Why were they rejected?

    All these points need to be supported with data and calculations.

    Looking at the IET’s proposal:

    1.What are the ‘Current Vision Targets’ (that phrase seems Dilbertesque)? This should be based, at a minimum, on the IPCC Working Group documents and should  include the uncertainties and assumptions used as well as the background of the 1.5°C target and the likely timescales for the different RPC Scenarios, again with the uncertainties and assumptions.

    2.This needs much more detail (it would be a winner at Buzzword Bingo). For example:

    What are the future energy requirements as Electricity and Heat?

    What solutions are available to supply this energy, wind, solar, nuclear etc?

    Each possible solution should include:

          Resources required and their availability, for example copper steel, rare earths, concrete.

          The energy required and emissions generated to obtain them.

           The Energy Return on Energy Invested (EROI) including the complete infrastructure such as back up for intermittent resources, new transmission lines (noting that           these may need to be oversized for interment resources).

           How long it will take to implement the solutions.

           What else is required to implement the solution such as a complete new EV charging infrastructure or a hydrogen infrastructure.

          How will the capacity market work? Should the intermittent suppliers have automatic priority as today or should the market be based on price?

          What are the options to reduce energy use, insulation, more efficient processes etc? Can each solution be justified? Will it actually save more energy than is used in        its implementations within a sensible time span.

         What are the true costs of each solution? The CFD system does not work and the intermittent suppliers are not delivering at the strike price, they are delivering at the       market price which is much higher. This however generates the false assumption that renewables are the cheapest form of energy. It is easy to look at a big offshore       wind project, note the capital cost, note the nameplate output and capacity factor and work out the basic cost per MWh without maintenance or interest.

         How will the whole system be integrated including cross border links?

    3. If 1. and 2. are correctly justified this will not be a problem. If 1. and 2. do not justify themselves then no one will commit to them.

    4. Reasonable, but care must be taken with Net Zero. How can it be demonstrated that any offsets used are real and not just a paper exercise?

    5. All solutions need to be carefully analysed at the planning level. Is more damage caused to nature by the solution than by burning fossil fuels, wood chip for example?

    All ‘green’ jobs created go directly on the bottom line of energy costs. Someone has to fund ‘Well-Paid Careers’, usually the taxpayer or consumer.

    6. Very important but irrelevant to this topic.

    7. What revenue generating potential?

    8. How does the support get funded? This needs to be described.

    This would be the very minimum of detail I would expect to present to the Board of Directors.

    How does the IET think that their Presentation is justified?

  • Hello, please have a look both at the original Scottish Government consultation and also the IET's full submission response.  These give the context and rationale to the recommendations of the IET working group.  Our response was not designed to cover all issues relating to Scotland’s energy strategy and just transition plans, but to provide answers to a number of specific questions.

  • The two referenced documents are also mostly ‘Green Babble’. The Scottish Government document defines electricity storage in MW, not in MWh except for Coire Glas which is correctly defined.

    The route maps they show don’t make any sense. For example:

    The energy demand map states 2.6 TWh of thermal energy supplied by heat networks in 2027 and 6 TWh of thermal energy supplied by heat networks in 2030. I cannot find any details in the text, is this from fossil fuels or renewable sources?

    The energy supply map state 5 GW of renewable and low carbon hydrogen by 2030 and 25 GW by 2045 without considering the energy sources and conversion efficiencies. I have to guess that ‘low carbon hydrogen’ means from fossil fuels but with carbon capture, a technology that does not exist at this scale yet.

    This is just another example of virtue signaling while avoiding the rather unpalatable realities of actually planning to implement any of the suggested changes. As I said previously this is only credible if presented as a CER with sufficient details and justification at an engineering level.

  • Agree, especially the Dilbert comment. The engineering equivalent of 'all fur coat and no knickers', it reads as if it was written without doing any actual calculations involving verifiable nos at all. And that is how engineering must be planned. Anything less is merely neurotypical management waffle - and if anyone is not sure what I mean by that, I refer to  the sort of behaviour  parodied in the BBC series W1A...


  • You could make your own submission, Roger.

  • Indeed I could Simon however I am not in a 'Well Paid Green Career' that would pay for my time. I also expect it would be ignored as it would contain unpalatable numbers and facts.

    I have looked at the costs of windpower and the energy requirements of transport on this forum before. 

    The True Cost of Wind Power - Engineering Discussions - IET EngX - IET EngX (

    We need your help to tackle the transport challenge! - Engineering Discussions - IET EngX - IET EngX (

    I don't think much has changed in the meantime.

  • Public awareness around energy transition is a challenge. Awareness of it's impacts, needs and benefits, helps with adoption of new and revived energy systems. Adoption of the latest technology is a complex challenge that effects every stage of developing an effective technological structure for energy transition that is just.

    The lobby of fossil fuels is rampant in creating bottle necks for successful development of alternative energy systems that can ease transition; such as the hydrogen economy. 

  • Another piece of fairly meaningless Green babble. As usual the fossil fuel lobby is blamed for the failure of alternative energy systems. This avoids having to accept that the demands of the Green lobby won’t actually work, especially in the demanded time scales.

    It is typical for the Green lobby to make demands but not offer any solutions ‘Just Stop Oil’ ‘Insulate Britain’. How? What is the cost? What resources are required? What is the EROEI? There is the rather mistaken view that there are infinite resources available for ‘Green’ things. Green jobs, especially well paid ones, are somehow a benefit and not a burden on the consumer.

    Hydrogen vehicles have been around for decades:

    1959 Allis Chalmers Fuel cell tractor. It worked, they plowed a field or two with it.

    2002 Mercedes Benz A class fuel cell. It was designed with a sandwich floor to make space for batteries and fuel cells.

    2005 BMW Hydrogen 7. It worked, production and storage of liquid hydrogen was too energy intensive.

    Were these all stopped by the fossil fuel lobby or by technical difficulties and costs?


    The next big thing is heat pumps. These are probably a good idea if designed into a new build or installed as a replacement in a relatively modern well insulated building. Retrofitting old buildings will cause more problems and costs than any gains. The German Green Party is trying install a heat pump in it’s party headquarters in Berlin. They started in 2019 and after spending EUR 5 million they still have no heat.

    You may well cry ‘Climate Denier Website’ but I have also looked at the original German, Der Spiegel is behind a paywall.

    The Green movement is trying to push this onto  the public when they can’t make it work themselves.

  • Ok, so what is the solution to reducing emissions of greenhouse gasses? We can't just keep saying "that technical solution won't work, and that technical solution won't work". We're engineers, we're the ones who are supposed to have the skills to come up with technical solutions.