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First Scottish Government 'Future of Energy in Scotland' Strategy Released

Scotland's first Energy Strategy ‘The Future of Energy in Scotland’ was released on 20th December 2017, and sets out the Scottish Government’s vision for the future energy system in Scotland. This new Energy Strategy will guide the Scottish Government’s decisions on energy over the years ahead.

It articulates six energy priorities for a whole-system approach that considers both the use and the supply of energy for heat, power and transport. The Strategy sets two new and ambitious targets for the Scottish energy system by 2030:

•  The equivalent of 50% of the energy for Scotland’s heat, transport and electricity consumption to be supplied from renewable sources

•  An increase by 30% in the productivity of energy use across the Scottish economy

The Strategy aims to double Scotland’s renewable electricity capacity from 9GW to 17GW by 2030. It considers two indicative scenarios for the low carbon energy system in Scotland in 2050: an electrified future; and a hydrogen future. Both are consistent with Scotland’s climate targets, and these two scenarios show how low carbon electricity and hydrogen could be used to meet demand across the industry, services, residential and transport sectors:

•  2050 Scenario 1 – An Electric Future: around 80% of residential energy demand is met from electricity, 100% of cars and light goods vehicles are powered by electricity, and 70% of energy in the service sector supplied by electricity.

•  2050 Scenario 2 – A Hydrogen Future: 60% of demand in the residential sector delivered by hydrogen, 100% of cars and light goods vehicles as well as some buses and HGVs are powered by hydrogen, potential to capture over 10 million tonnes of CO2 across industry, and demand for gas as an input increases by around 60%.

Scotland in 2050 is unlikely to reflect either the electric or the hydrogen pure scenarios; it is more likely instead to combine elements of the two, as well as new options that have yet to be developed. Some regions of Scotland may depend more heavily on hydrogen or other low carbon gases for decarbonisation, whilst others could adopt electrical solutions.

The new Energy Strategy includes specific references to current hydrogen and fuel cell demonstration projects such as the FCH-JU supported Aberdeen Hydrogen Bus Project, and also to local energy system projects in the Orkney Islands such as the European-funded ‘BIG HIT’ project which build on the Surf ‘n’ Turf project in Orkney by producing hydrogen from renewable sources for transport and heating.

This new Energy Strategy highlights the connections between the energy system and all parts of the economy, and the importance of delivering low carbon energy to sustainable, inclusive growth. It proposes an adaptive strategy, using whole energy system thinking to maximise the capture and utilisation of renewable energy. It sets out the intention to identify and pursue ‘no regret’ or ‘low regret’ options, and progress over the next few years will have a huge bearing on strategic decisions about which technologies should form part of the future Scottish energy system.