GET ready for Scotland’s 2030 renewables revolution.

This could be driven by our new national energy company, which should be controlled at municipal level, according to a discussion paper by think tank Common Weal.

In the latest policy paper prepared by Craig Berry, the author of Common Weal’s previous well-received paper on Scotland and the space industry, he states that Scotland requires urgent powers on energy policy to set up a world-leading energy industry.

READ: Common Weal's 20-page discussion paper in full

This process has been stifled by the UK energy strategy set since the 1980s by both Conservative and Labour governments in Westminster.

In the new paper setting out a 2030 vision for renewables in Scotland, Berry, an engineer by profession, calls for Scotland’s new National Energy Company – announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon last year -– to emulate German and Nordic approaches by delivering not-for-profit renewable energy with strong municipal control.

The report, entitled Renewables Scotland 2030, states that UK energy policy since 1980 has failed Scotland. It has led to the six largest energy companies seeing profit margins rise by 4.48 per cent since 2016, with 34.9 per cent of households in Scotland currently facing fuel poverty.

The Scottish Energy Company – the details of which are still being developed - should have five key objectives, Berry’s report says.

These are: reducing fuel poverty, and eventually eliminating it; meeting 75 per cent of energy demand through renewable; decentralising the energy supply; expanding research and development in green and smart technologies; and maximising social value through a not-for-profit approach.

READ MORE: Independent energy for an independent Scotland – let's make it happen

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

Berry said: “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.”

The discussion paper says that the private monopolies of the UK energy regime hold 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 the approach of Norway and the Netherlands in incentivising the purchase of electric vehicles, introducing new charging infrastructure and establishing low emission zones.

The paper argues that Scotland has only captured 0.06 per cent of marine energy potential and the Scottish Government should boost research and development in wave and tidal technology, with an aim to capture 25 per cent of marine energy resource by 2030.

According to Berry, a National Battery Technology Innovation Centre should be established to drive investment in new innovative battery technology, working with universities. The Scottish Government should also work with the NorthConnect project to provide Scotland with a route to export its additional renewable resource to mainland Europe.

READ MORE: Here’s how we’ll create a Scottish bus revolution

Ben Wray, Common Weal head of policy, said: “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.”


Key points from the Common Weal report

  • The Scottish Government should invest in energy infrastructure and electric vehicles to meet 75 per cent of overall energy demand by 2030.
  • The Scottish Government should aim to capture 25 per cent of marine energy resource by 2030.
  • Scotland is on track to meet 100 per cent of electricity demand by renewables by 2020. The Scottish Government should look to invest in grid modernisation and energy storage to increase efficiency and decrease costs to consumers.
  • The Scottish Government should create a not-for-profit energy company with municipal control, led by a Scottish Energy Agency.
  • As we move towards a full ban of petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030, the Scottish Government should create an electric vehicle strategy which increases focus on access to electric vehicles, with an aim to have electric vehicles meet 50 per cent of the car market share.
  • An additional £82m should be invested in building up Scotland’s charging infrastructure, with the aim of five charging stations for every 1000 electric vehicle drivers.
  • On Renewable Shipping – currently 15 of the 33 ferries in the Caledonian MacBrayne fleet have an operational profile that makes electric (eight) and hybrid (seven) ferries profitable, with three already run on hybrid technology and two soon to come into service.
  • An additional £62m in additional investment is required to meet the green ferry demand by 2030, with £121m being saved in operation costs over a ten-year period.
  • A Carbon Fund should be created in which the business sector commits to achieving certain emission reductions through payments to an environmental fund.
  • Additional strategies in defence, broadband, housing and fishing are required to enhance the efficiency of Scotland’s energy policy.