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:
- Keep the current vision targets. They are already challenging and need to remain achievable.
- 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.
- Provide political leadership and develop long-term cross-party commitment at international, national and local levels.
- 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.
- 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.
- Provide the means to sustain interest in the STEM-related subjects of students from an early school age.
- Research the opportunities provided by CCUS, recognising its revenue generation potential.
- 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?