Scotland in 2050: Clean Energy – Realising Our Potential, Domestically and Internationally

June 5th 2019

The UK’s leading renewable energy event – All Energy 2019 – took place from 15-16th May at SEC, Glasgow, showcasing the latest technologies and services for the energy supply chain and both private and public sector energy end users, developers and investors. With an active role in decarbonising Scotland’s cities through its hydrogen workstreams, the Alliance attended the event.

A "Scotland in 2050" panel session took place on day one, discussing ways in which the energy sector can work to maximise Scotland’s economic potential, both domestically and internationally. The aim of the session was to explore the ways in which the Scottish energy sector can work to:

1. Make Scotland as attractive a destination as possible for clean energy inward investment; and

2. Position our country as a global leader for clean energy and increase export of our technology, expertise and ability to develop projects from an idea into a vibrant and ever-developing market.

Clare Foster (below), Partner and Head of Clean Energy at Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP, chaired the session alongside several industry professional panellists, including:

Professor Graeme Roy, Director of the Fraser of Allander Institute, University of Strathclyde

Oscar Diaz, Technical Director, Moray Offshore Renewables

Claire Mack, CEO, Scottish Renewables

Peter Knott, Managing Director, Green Investment Group

Joan Pisanek, Business Development Manager, Sunamp

The session, sponsored and organised by Shepherd and Wedderburn, stemmed from the Fraser of Allander Institute (FAI) research project “Scotland in 2050: Realising our Global Potential”. The report intends to help Scottish businesses, organisations and entrepreneurs best position themselves, and the Scottish economy, for the future. Clare Foster explained:

We have a great reputation for creating ground-breaking technologies, and our universities continue to lead the way in a rapid advancement of a number of technologies which will decarbonise our economies. But where Scotland goes from here is the key question.

To answer this question, the FAI drew recommendations from over 100 Scottish businesses. Professor Roy highlighted the main themes that emerged through these recommendations.

  • Infrastructure was the first point of focus. It was suggested that taking climate and environmental changes into consideration, the re-design of Scotland’s infrastructure – particularly digital infrastructure with regard to housing and transport – will be an integral part of Scotland’s progression towards 2050.
  • Trading on knowledge was another key discussion point. As has been seen in recent years, Scotland’s high-class Universities are producing skilled, knowledgeable and employable workers. As a result, Scotland is known for its high-quality products and services. It is important to primarily, ensure that these strong skillsets continue to be embedded into our future professionals and furthermore, utilise Scotland’s ability to compete on high value to maximise economic growth.
  • Reaching Sufficient Scale to meet productivity demand was highlighted as a vital part of the country’s forward progression. Professor Roy explained that in order to fully reach Scotland’s economic potential, local businesses must be fully supported to help them reach a scale in which higher productivity and distribution is feasible.
  • Collaboration was recognised unanimously as a key player to drive Scotland’s global potential. Firstly, more collaboration between the Government and businesses will provide the opportunity to gain more market access. Secondly, whilst local students and businesses often work together throughout Scotland, there is still room to strengthen the link between businesses and acadaemia:

"We can try to utilise the power of our academic base to drive economic development. Energy is one area that has done well in that, linking into the universities, but there’s certainly more that can be done – particularly for smaller businesses" (Professor Graeme Roy, FAI)

  • Finally, strategizing Scottish Policy to suit our long-term focus was said to be vital. This includes focusing on the country’s strengths at investment scale to maximise global success.

Taking these recommendations into consideration, the link between the provision and efficient use of skills and knowledge, productivity and collaborative working is apparent. In particular, education is vital in enforcing all of this. As Professor Roy explained: “When you’re operating on a world stage, scale and efficiency matter.”

Scotland prides itself on a world-renowned education system, producing highly skilled and employable graduates which, in return, brings the highest quality of products and services. However, as stated by Claire Mack, it is now time to really drive economic growth forward globally:

This is not just about focusing on the domestic market. We are small and mighty in the world, but we’ve got a lot more to offer if we take our skills and knowledge out of the UK, and don’t just focus primarily on the domestic market.

By utilising Scotland’s talent to promote the country as a high value, reliable market player to the rest of the world, there is no doubt that the Scottish energy sector will continue to flourish.

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