Scotland in 2050: Clean Energy – realising our potential, domestically and internationally

Scotland in 2050: Clean Energy – realising our potential, domestically and internationally

This is a guest post from Clare Foster, Partner and Head of Clean Energy at Shepherd and Wedderburn.

Scotland has emerged over the years as a global leader in the clean energy sector, with an abundance of opportunities to harness the elements, both on land and around our shores.

Many of the technological advancements in offshore wind, floating wind and tidal energy – from academic concept to commercial viability – have incubated in Scotland, as have the respective markets and supply chains required to commercialise these technologies.

The recent acknowledgement at Scottish and UK government level that drastic action is needed to rapidly decarbonise our economies has brought a renewed focus to developing the viable markets that will advance renewable energy and carbon reduction technologies.

The UK government outlined its commitment to developing offshore wind in the new Offshore Wind Sector Deal announcement in March, described in the official announcement as an “energy revolution to provide a third of all UK electricity by 2030”: a demonstration that with the right support, new technologies can sprint from concept to commercial viability and play a key role in future energy security in years rather than generations.

The rapid advancement of carbon reduction technologies has come not a moment too soon: the world has finally woken up to the twin threats of climate change and the destruction of biodiversity.

Recent demonstrations by climate activists brought parts of London to a standstill; school children went on strike to raise awareness of climate change – and with that awakened many of their parents to the idea their children have an acute understanding of the consequences of inaction on climate change, summed up in a humbling speech to Westminster MPs by teen activist Greta Thunberg, who said the “ongoing irresponsible behaviour” of industry and decision makers “will no doubt be remembered in history as one of the greatest failures of humankind”.

Scotland, of course, is world renowned for creating ground-breaking technologies with global significance, much of it the fruits of academic research. Our universities continue to lead the way in the rapid advancement of wind, wave and tidal energy technologies and in the other technologies that will decarbonise our economies. The industries blossoming around these advancements have also, in their formative years, demonstrated their resilience in adapting and innovating to change, often in the face of adversity.

What also emerged in those formative years was the sheer grit and determination of those working to develop these sectors, championing Scotland as a global centre of excellence for the development and advancement of the energy sources of the future.

Where Scotland goes from here is the key question. From a policy perspective, there is plenty for those in the sector to aim for. The Scottish Energy Strategy and the Energy Efficient Scotland: route map both set ambitious targets for energy production, as well as for a warmer, greener, more energy efficient country. Both also articulate the Scottish Government’s various clean energy aspirations. Together with the Scottish Government’s recent announcement that it is targeting net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045, they emphasise that the political will is there. But how could and should these policies and targets evolve and translate into a development pipeline? And, beyond our own shores, what more should we be doing to export and develop our hard-won expertise to overseas markets?

We have the talent and the resources… what we now need to address are two key challenges:

  1. to make Scotland as attractive a destination as possible for clean energy inward investment; and
  2. to cement Scotland’s position as a global leader in clean energy by getting better at exporting our technology, our expertise and our ability to develop projects from concept to commercialisation, and creating viable, vibrant markets centred around these technologies.

We will explore these issues, and how we galvanise the industry into tackling them, in a session – sponsored and organised by Shepherd and Wedderburn – on the first day of the All –Energy 2019 conference. The catalyst for this discussion is the Fraser of Allander Institute’s report, Scotland in 2050: Realising our Global Potential, commissioned by Shepherd and Wedderburn to mark its 250th anniversary, to help Scottish businesses, organisations and entrepreneurs’ best position themselves, and the Scottish economy, for the future. The report draws on fresh insights derived from new economic data, long-term global growth forecasting, statistical modelling and, most importantly, the views of more than 100 business leaders and representatives of public and private sector organisations.

Join me and my distinguished panel of experts to debate the issues that may impact our market-leading position and hear what steps businesses are already taking to maximise the opportunities both here and globally. There is a huge amount to do to solve the climate change crisis and all of us have a part to play in addressing this.

Learn more about Clare here: https://shepwedd.com/people/clare-foster

Learn more about Shepherd and Wedderburnhere: https://shepwedd.com/

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