SCOTLAND’S public sector could potentially lead the next stage of the country’s green energy evolution through leading by example.

Industry body Scottish Renewables said local authorities, health boards, National Park authorities, enterprise agencies and emergency services – along with a host of other public organisations – could all play a key role in the country meeting its future climate change targets.

Speaking as she launched a set of priority recommendations for the Scottish Government’s new energy strategy, Jenny Hogan, policy director at Scottish Renewables, said: “While significant progress has been made already, there’s a real opportunity here to make further significant changes to the way Scotland generates and uses energy.

“Public bodies can use their planning, procurement and economic development powers to lead Scotland’s transition to a truly low-carbon, sustainable energy system.

“Greening Scotland’s infrastructure and public estates can offer huge benefits in stabilising energy bills, creating jobs, investing in the local economy and cleaning up the environment.

“Local authorities such as North Ayrshire Council have shown how a determination to make the most of our abundant renewable energy resources can make a real contribution towards Scotland’s climate change goals, but there’s much more still to be done.”

Scottish Renewables’ publication “Renewed Ambitions: A Plan for Renewable Energy in Scotland” contains measures designed to “set a clear vision for the future of our energy sector”.

They include setting a target for at least half of Scotland’s energy needs to come from renewable sources by 2030, to create the conditions to at least treble renewable heat output by then, maximise electrification and decarbonisation of the transport system and to become a world-leading centre of excellence and expertise in renewable energy technologies and integrated energy systems.

It also calls for Scotland’s public sector to lead the next chapter of our energy evolution.

Hogan added: “Scotland’s previous climate change targets have provided a hugely powerful focus for government and industry and helped create the green energy industry we have today.

“A new target – for at least 50 per cent of Scotland’s energy needs to come from renewable sources in 2030 – would enable us to continue to build on the economic and environmental benefits our industry is already delivering.

“While renewables are now Scotland’s leading source of electricity, we have only just begun to address the need to reduce the carbon emissions from our heat and transport sectors.

“The Scottish Government’s planned new Energy Strategy gives us a chance to make the radical changes required in both if we are to get anywhere close to meeting our future climate change targets.”

In the North Ayrshire example, Emtec Energy was appointed to install 2MW of solar panels across a portfolio of 28 council owned properties, mostly primary schools.

The project started in August 2014 and was completed ahead of schedule in November last year.

NHS Ayrshire and Arran commissioned HWEnergy to install a new biomass boiler at the War Memorial Hospital at Lamlash in July 2013.

The new system will cut the hospital’s annual heating bills by 40 per cent, save 100 tonnes of CO2 emissions, as well as generating an annual income of around £25,000 for reinvestment into patient care through the Scottish Government-backed renewable heat incentive (RHI).