At least they recognise they “need to take communities with them”.  Maybe our Petition to the Scottish Parliament has touched a nerve!
WITH 50 days to go until COP26, the United Nations Climate Change
Conference in Glasgow, and a newly struck deal between the SNP and the
Scottish Greens, even more attention will turn to environmental issues and
the huge potential of renewable energy.
The Programme for Government unveiled this week had laudable ambitions for
a “just transition” to low carbon, with investment in the north-east, but
ministers still face difficult choices and economic challenges. The news
that CS Wind (UK), the South Korean-owned company that ran the sole
facility for manufacturing wind towers, has gone into administration after
a year in mothballs provides an example that announcing a green energy
revolution does not, on its own, magically bring about economic and
environmental results.
That rhetoric is, however, hardly confined to this administration. All the
major UK political groups have accepted the necessity of low-emission
goals, and trumpeted the opportunities of renewables. Even if the choices
may be more difficult, and the costs higher, than their various programmes
(which show, in fact, a remarkable degree of unanimity) admit, this seems
to be, at least in the general direction of travel, a genuine political shift.
And despite CS Wind’s failure, the opportunities from getting this right
are real enough. For Scotland, they are potentially immense; our natural
resources for providing green power are as significant in their way as
North Sea oilfields previously were, but endlessly renewable and
environmentally sound.
Tidal, wind and hydro initiatives, community projects, world-leading
research in our universities, industry expertise that could be transferred
from existing energy technologies and our geographical advantages offer a
foundation on which great things could be built. The challenge will be to
ensure that the manufacturing skills, the jobs and the innovation in these
schemes are solidly established here, and that we do not simply export an
end product for the benefit of companies and support industries elsewhere.
We have had experience of this with both onshore and offshore wind, when
the hardware, infrastructure and ownership that ought to have sprung up in
Scotland failed to materialise. That is no petty nationalistic cry along
the lines of “It’s Scotland’s wind”. Enterprises on this scale naturally
require investment and co-operation with firms from elsewhere in the UK and
internationally, and we should, and will have to, embrace them. But it
would be folly not to use the new drive towards green energy to establish
solid, long-term industries and jobs.
Teeside, with a net zero plant, significant solar and offshore and
innovation in hydrogen technologies, has been making great strides; the
Scottish Government should be looking closely to see what we can learn, and
ensure that we compete even more effectively. Within a decade, £70 billion
will be invested in UK offshore and we may see a 10-fold increase in green
Scottish energy production (it has already tripled since 2009); those
staggering figures must be translated into jobs, industrial regeneration,
innovation in engineering and industrial opportunity to benefit our own
That will require public acceptance of major changes. If, as the SNP/Green
plan suggests, onshore wind might double, Holyrood must take local
communities with them. As with the shifts in behaviour at domestic level
with cars and boilers, these will not be cost-free or easy choices. There
are still almost 100,000 jobs directly or indirectly linked to oil and gas
in Scotland; the comparable figure for renewables is 23,000, of which only
6,500 are direct and full-time. Transferring and adapting those jobs and
skills will not be a straightforward process. There is clearly a long
distance to go, but the potential gains make it well worth undertaking.
There is huge cause for optimism, given the country’s natural resources,
its industrial heritage, its scientific expertise and the avowed commitment
of its politicians. But the opportunities cannot simply be paraded as if
they were an achievement already brought about, nor the costs and
difficulties waved away. The future is bright and green, and holds the
promise of prosperity, but it will also require hard thought, bold choices
and significant investment if Scotland is to benefit.

SAS Volunteer

We publish content from 3rd party sources for educational purposes. We operate as a not-for-profit and do not make any revenue from the website. If you have content published on this site that you feel infringes your copyright please contact: to have the appropriate credit provided or the offending article removed.


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *