DO Scots nowadays understand the immense potential of renewables outside their doors?

When talking to several activists who were part of the SNPs 1970s immensely successful “It’s Scotland’s Oil” campaign, they welcomed the idea of a similar issue-focused narrative in the present day.

One of the reasons the SNPs “It’s Scotland’s Oil” campaign worked so well was the lack of awareness outside the gas and oil industries to what was happening in the North Sea and why it was so important.

They then made a clear, positive vision of Scotland based on other countries, hammered this message home in digestible and targeted materials, and thousands of members were involved in delivering a single, simple message: “It’s Scotland’s Oil”.

Professor Gavin McCrone – author of the McCrone Report – said that it was “regrettable” neither the Scottish or UK Government had efficiently communicated to the public the potential of renewables or a plan to harness the energy.

What would a renewables campaign look like?

National columnist Pat Kane is a long-time independence campaigner and describes himself as a “futurist”.

Kane can remember how the “It’s Scotland’s Oil” campaign shaped narrative in the 1980s.

He said: “I was a wee boy when the campaign happened and I remember having these utopian dreams of Scotland – a gleaming, modern, fuelled on endless energy Scotland – and I thought we were gonna be the best country in the world, so my kid dreams were shaped by the idea that we had an abundance of energy behind us.”

READ MORE: 'Conspiracy' to hide extent of oil wealth from Scots, Tom Devine says

He said the growing knowledge of the climate crisis gives Scotland “a second bite of the apple”, the apple being the chance to live in “a lucky country”.

“I think that not blowing a second chance should be quite acute in people’s minds,” he adds

He also believes that the relationship between modern independence and energy abundance “is quite powerful” – especially insecure energy markets.

“It makes the future feel real and liveable. It’s a really optimistic, progressive and futuristic theme to explore. The idea that you turn on appliances and machines, or anything and the back of it you have the idea that the energy is coming from entirely renewable resources – it’s a really attractive way to go into the 21st century.

“To connect independence to that prospect, control your country to maximise your natural energy and resources, I think it’s attractive."

The National: Tidal turbines for Scottish projectTidal turbines for Scottish project (Image: PR)

A slogan can sometimes make or break a campaign.

“It’s Scotland’s Oil”, “Get Brexit Done”, “Why Not Scotland?”, “Build Back Better”, “Labour isn’t working”.

Would a future campaign be called “It’s Scotland’s Energy”?

Kane threw his idea into the running: “Independence is natural.”

He said: “Independence is the natural state of affairs for a small country to be in, but also independence is naturally powered.”

It’s complicated…

In 1974, oil was a tangible object, discovered in a specific place, with a straightforward earth-to-home process that was already established as a money-maker in global markets.

Each of these points and methods can’t be said or used the same for renewable energy.

Craig Dalzell, who is head of policy and research at think tank Common Weal, said the complexities of energy has made it much more difficult for the public to comprehend and in turn, grasp Scotland’s possible wealth.

The National: Materials from 1970sMaterials from 1970s (Image: Archive)

“I think it’s very difficult to get that grasp, because the sector is so completed and so complex, there’s so many moving parts and so many companies involved that are themselves very complex structures. It’s a sector that does require a fair bit of expertise to get a grasp on.

“What we have seen though, is increased awareness on how vulnerable we all are to global shifts in energy markets and energy demand and just how interlinked, almost unnecessarily, it all is.”

READ MORE: McCrone: Can Scotland ditch oil and gas and still be 'energy rich'?

Why is a campaign like this important?

In addition to our coverage this week, Dalzell paints a picture of Scotland’s economic future. The one Scots, activists, and the Scottish Government risks living if the potential of renewables is not realised or communicated efficiently.

“One thing I have found, especially with my work on ScotWind auction, is that we’re seeing the same companies – a lot of the oil barons of the past – getting involved in Scotland’s renewable future.

READ MORE: The North Sea firms profiting from Scotland's oil

“If we’re giving them the same grasp and control, and ability to extract profit from Scotland as we with the oil, and we’re doing the same thing with wind, then we’re setting ourselves up for the exact same kind, or potentially an even greater quite frankly, economic failure.

“The major difference being – oil eventually runs out. Either oil runs dry completely or the climate emergency takes over – but wind does not.”