Report: Renewables Scotland 2030

Ben Wray

The paper focuses on four key areas: energy infrastructure, electric vehicles, autonomous distribution and shipping.

A SCOTTISH National Energy Company should seek to emulate German and Nordic approaches by delivering not-for-profit renewable energy with strong municipal control, a new Common Weal paper argues.

‘Renewables Scotland 2030: A discussion paper on how to transform Scotland’s energy sector by 2030’ is authored by engineer Craig Berry and can be read in full here

Berry, author of a previous Common Weal paper on Scotland’s space industry, argues that the new National Energy Company, announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of last year (of which the details are still being developed), should have five key objectives:

  • Reducing (and eventually eliminating) fuel poverty
  • 75% of energy demand met through renewables
  • Decentralisation of the energy supply
  • Expand R&D in green and smart technologies
  • Maximise social value through a not-for-profit approach.

This would be inspired by Germany’s turn towards municipalisation, with 72 municipal energy companies established since the 1990’s, and the Nordic system, which has emphasised “collective learning and knowledge formation” through a “collectivist approach”.

“[Municipalisation] is critical in creating a transformation to a sustainable energy system based on energy efficiency and renewable energies. Creating a municipal energy company allows strong governance in the local energy market. The return for each municipality running its own local utility is significant when the focus is on affordable energy as opposed to increasing returns,” Berry argues.

Other key points in the report include:

  • The private monopolies of the UK energy regime holds back development of Scotland’s renewable potential, with Scotland currently utilising less than one-sixth of its total green energy power capacity.
  • To meet the Scottish Government’s targets for a ban on petrol and diesel vehicles by 2032 a strategy for a smooth transition is urgently needed, which should include following Netherlands and Norway’s approach in incentivising the purchase of electric vehicles, introducing the new charging infrastructure and establishing low emission zones.
  • Scotland has only captured 0.06% of marine energy potential. The Scottish Government should boost R&D in wave and tidal technology, with an aim to capture 25% of marine energy resource by 2030.
  • A National Battery Technology Innovation Centre should be established to drive investment in new innovative battery technology, working with universities.
  • The Scottish Government should work with the NorthConnect project to provide Scotland with a route to export its additional renewable resource to mainland Europe.

Ben Wray, Common Weal head of policy, commenting on the paper, stated: “This paper proposes an exciting vision for taking a leap forward over the next 12 years in meeting Scotland’s undoubted potential to be a European renewables giant. 

“In designing a national energy company, the Scottish Government must learn from the successes of others in Europe who have utilised strong public, local control to expand renewables production at affordable prices.

“In place of the UK’s model – private monopolies at rip-off prices – we need a Scottish model which by 2030 can see strong municipal control of renewables in public hands.”