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Setting targets: Scotland's bold energy vision

•  Strategy sets nation's aims on heat, electricity, transport
•  Ambitious targets on renewables, buildings
•  Government support, regulation key – EST Scotland expert

Off the back of Scotland's Climate Change Act, Scottish Government has just published a draft Energy Strategy – and it's ambitious stuff. 

It sets out a target for 50 per cent of Scotland’s energy consumption across the board to come from renewables by 2030 – building on an existing target to supply all of electricity demand from renewable sources by 2020. There are also bold targets for transport and heating. 

Turning up the heat

Energy Saving Trust Scotland is preparing a response to the publication now, and Strategy Manager, Elaine Waterson, commented:

“We're really positive about the vision, particularly around residential housing. Looking at our key areas, the targets for 80 per cent of homes to use low carbon heating, and improving building fabric to reduce heat demand by six per cent, both by 2032, stand out.” Elaine Waterson, Strategy Manager, Energy Saving Trust

The strategy calls for the decarbonisation of energy in Scotland to be both socially and economically sustainable – and Elaine points to the key focus of social responsibility when improving energy efficiency and security of supply at domestic level. She said:

“In terms of the plans being socially sustainable, it's a must that fuel poverty is considered. Whatever comes next can't significantly increase bills for households already struggling to pay.”

The UK's zero heroes?

A striking feature of the strategy is the goal to make Scotland's buildings 'near zero carbon' by 2050 - with a number of possible routes to achieving this cited. Elaine said:

“At the moment, it's not entirely clear how the zero carbon target will be achieved – will it be helped, for example, by pumping hydrogen onto the gas grid, or introducing large numbers of technologies like air source heat pumps. Again, the vision is really admirable, but there will have to be a lot of time and effort ploughed in to make sure the detail's right.”


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A local focus

There's no doubt that the final version of the strategy will have fine-tuned some of the points – as well as laying down where responsibility will lie in stimulating the market for, and delivering, the large quantities of measures and infrastructure required. 

Councils look set to have a lot of responsibility to accelerate the pace of energy efficiency and low-carbon heating – something they have long been involved in through schemes like Scotland's Energy Efficiency Programme (SEEP) and area-based partnerships. Elaine said:

“Local authorities in Scotland have lots of experience in delivering programmes. They know their areas well, and understand the local housing stock. I'd say they're very well placed.”

Chance to be bold on leaky homes

Despite the obvious ambition, Elaine believes there are some areas where the strategy could go a bit further. 

She said: “We'd like to see even more priority given to energy efficiency – closer to the Existing Homes Alliance ask for the vast majority of homes in Scotland to be a band C by 2025 and more consideration given to the possibility of deeper energy efficiency retrofits.” 

A UK split in energy policy?

Pennan, ScotlandWhat does strike home when considering this proposed energy future for Scotland, is the possibility of the nation taking a considerably different path to the rest of the UK. Does Elaine think this is likely?

Elaine said: “Possibly, especially in energy efficiency. This is acknowledged in the draft strategy, but also the fact that some aspects still rest on decisions made in Westminster, such as on the future of the gas grid. Broadly speaking that's not the case with home energy efficiency, where Scotland can go ahead singularly and build on existing progress.”

A role for regulation

There's no doubt that the foundations are already in place – and that a firm steer from Scottish Government has been a key part of successes so far. Elaine added:

“We're building on strong support for renewables and energy efficiency – this is not trying to create something from scratch. We can learn from what's been done before, and add to it. 

“But we can't underestimate the importance of regulation. It's especially needed if we're to tackle the energy efficiency of not just the private rented sector, but all owner occupied housing too. Looking at Scotland's figures on things like renewables compared to the rest of the UK, it's undeniable that government intervention has made an impact overall.” 

The strategy is currently open for consultation, with the final version to be published later in the year. 

Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, or tweet us at @EnergySvgTrust. Follow our dedicated account for Scotland: @EST_Scotland.

Gary Hartley's picture
Gary Hartley is Energy Saving Trust's expert blogger. He has extensive experience researching and writing on a number of topics, with particular expertise in sustainable energy, policy, literature and sport. As well as providing regular blog content, Gary has also been published in numerous magazines and journals.

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I have heard that the HEEP scheme deadline has been extended, but can't see any report of this anywhere. Is this true? No one is answering the phones.

An open letter to the Scottish Government, Energy Strategy Consultation

I am a Scottish scientist replying to the Scottish government's Energy Strategy Consultation (this email is for publication if you wish) which I am sorry to say is not very inspiring because of your "Scottish Energy Strategy - the future of energy in Scotland" document's fundamental scientific errors and fraudulent nonsense which make me lose confidence in the people who are managing this consultation.

I really think it would be better to appoint someone else to start again with a new energy strategy document, this time produced by someone competent to the task.

For example, your "VISION for 2050" is fatally flawed because of your reliance on "Carbon Capture and Storage" which I take to be a fraudulent exercise by the fossil fuel industry.

Typically, with CCS fraud, most of the carbon dioxide which may be captured won't be stored for long before it is sneakily vented to the atmosphere by cowboy operators because there will be a profit in doing so. Leaking CO2 will always be cheaper than storing CO2. Storage can't be policed. Indeed the fossil fuel industry has no intention of policing CCS.

The CCS fraud is simply promoted to serve as a slogan and an excuse for ignorant government ministers to repeat as per in your "Scottish Energy Strategy - the future of energy in Scotland" document, while continuing to support the business-as-usual fossil fuel industry and dodging valid criticisms of fossil fuel burning causing global warming and environmental damage.

Promoting the Carbon Capture and Storage fraud is obviously the wrong priority for energy planning in Scotland.

I have comments on your numbered points, as follows.

67. The draft climate change plan makes the same wrong claims about CCS. They are wrong. You are wrong about CCS. 2 wrongs don't make a right.

75. Hydrogen is not a "hydrocarbon" (there's no carbon in hydrogen) therefore hydrogen should not be introduced as such.

84. "Fuel cells" which use "natural gas" as their fuel are still at an early stage of development whereas hydrogen fuel cells are well established. Therefore it makes no scientific sense to propose starting off with natural gas fuel cells and then running them off hydrogen.

Perhaps you are confusing the fact that natural gas BURNING thermal generators (not "fuel cells") can also be run by burning hydrogen gas?

Don't confuse your gas-burning generators with your fuel cells. You sound like you don't know what you are talking about.

The following sentence is once again entirely WRONG!

"Hydrogen gas at scale will most likely require natural gas (methane) as the source
feedstock and as such in order to be low carbon, carbon capture and storage
facilities will be a necessary system requirement."

WRONG! The great potential renewable use of hydrogen is not making it from natural gas but by making it from water via electrolysis powered by wind, solar or other renewable generators.

What you propose with the so-called "carbon capture and storage" (which doesn't work and is fraud) is fossil fuel hydrogen, not renewable, not sustainable and that too is a FRAUD.

The whole section titled


is utterly wrong, unscientific, an invitation to fraud and it should be deleted. That's points 86 to 91. Bin it. CCS is a fraud.

Really, the Scottish government would do better for an energy strategy by binning your entire document and by publishing and promoting a link to my Scottish Scientist blog.

My ideas for a renewable energy strategy are more scientific, more realistic and more ambitious than your so-called "Scottish Energy Strategy" which is a disgrace to Scotland I am sorry to say.

Scottish Scientist
Independent Scientific Adviser for Scotland

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Hi Tabitha, thanks for getting in touch. We’re sorry to hear you had difficulty with the phone lines. Please may we confirm which number you were dialling?

Home Energy Scotland advisors are available on 0808 808 2282 from Monday to Friday between 8am to 8pm, and on Saturdays between 9am to 5pm. Alternatively you can request a call back within five working days. They will be able to discuss the HEEP schemes with you further.

We hope this helps.

EST Team