SCOTLAND’S leading energy industry experts have called on the Scottish Government to “grasp its opportunity to transform the country’s energy sector”, ahead of the publication of its energy strategy later this week.

The Future Energy Taskforce is calling for a bold vision to decarbonise Scotland’s energy system and hit climate change targets, and it says that the Scottish Government will need to use all the powers at its disposal, including targets, incentives and regulation to bring about the changes required.

Meanwhile, the world’s largest subsea power cable has come ashore at Ardneil Bay in North Ayrshire.

At around 385km long, it’s a crucial part of the £1 billion Western Link project, a joint venture between ScottishPower and National Grid to take renewable power from Scotland to homes and businesses in England and Wales.

The laying of the cable recently saw marine engineers discover a sunken German U-boat off the coast of Dumfries which, according to folklore, was attacked by a sea monster while prowling Scotland’s coastline towards the end of World War I.

Remarkable sonar images show the 100-year-old vessel largely intact and attempts to identify the wreck have led experts to conclude that it may be that of a UB-85.

On the Scottish Government’s forthcoming energy strategy, Dr Keith MacLean OBE, chairman of the UK Energy Research Centre advisory board and facilitator of the taskforce, said: “We welcome the fact that the Scottish Government is for the first time bringing together all of its plans for energy, across the electricity, heat and transport sectors, into one strategy.

“A major task like decarbonising the energy system will not be achieved on a piecemeal and incremental basis, nor without an integrated long-term plan.

“This new energy strategy is an excellent opportunity for the Scottish Government to assert overall leadership and control over the nation’s energy future.

MacLean added: “Decisions will need to be made, and ‘low regrets’ options like energy efficiency taken forward now, rather than waiting for silver bullets in the future.”

Professor Jan Webb, of Edinburgh University, said: “Scotland’s relatively old and often draughty buildings account for nearly half of our energy spending, and we have a great opportunity to improve their warmth without turning up the heating.

“All homes should be renovated to a minimum ‘C’ energy performance rating by 2025, through incentives and standards which build on successful existing schemes.

“We also need to start planning now for a future sustainable and renewable heat supply.

“Local governments will need to examine the best options for their areas and be empowered and resourced to develop detailed strategies.”

Dr Keith Bell, Professor of Smart Grids at Strathclyde University, said Scotland had made great progress in reducing emissions from electricity generation and there was more to be done.

He said: “The electricity system has the potential to play a major role in decarbonising new sectors like transport and heat as part of a least cost overall strategy that includes a continued focus on meeting people’s needs while using less energy.

“A smarter electricity system and improved consumer engagement, if done well, can help people feel more in control of their energy use.”