“Scotland's future lies in low carbon technologies and greener business,” says Cabinet Secretary for Sustainable Growth John Swinney in connection with the release a discussion paper on the transition to a low-carbon economy. The report is the first to show how Scotland can take “pole position” in the drive to secure the economic benefits of greener and renewable energy business.
“We have the most ambitious emissions reduction targets in the world and we have the natural resources and the desire to become a leading low-carbon economy,” he adds. “We must seize the opportunity and make the transition a reality.
Estimate for jobs in renewable energ rises by 10,000 since 2009
Last year, the Scottish Government released a blueprint to create at least 16,000 jobs in renewable energy over the next decade. This report estimates that an additional 26,000 jobs in renewable energies could be created, in addition to 26,000 jobs in emerging low-carbon technologies and 8000 in environmental management.
Low-carbon and renewable energy goods and services will be worth £12 billion by 2015, up from £8.5bn in 2007, the report notes. Scotland currently has 70,000 jobs in low-carbon and renewable energy sectors.
“Moving Scotland's industries to low-carbon products and services is an economic and environmental imperative and is already happening; witness the billions of pounds being invested in green energy,” says Swinney.
“Yet there is so much more potential across domestic and rapidly expanding global markets such as green energy, sustainable transport, energy efficiency, waste, recycling and pollution. All the estimates show that the jobs potential, demand for new skills, and supply chain benefits could be vast.
Competition in renewable energy is growing
“Other global competitors are investing heavily in the same areas in which Scotland has competitive strengths,” the report cautions. “SW England has already been designated a ‘low carbon economic area’ for marine renewables under the UK Low Carbon Transition Plan and, in the US, $20bn in tax incentives will be invested in wind and solar industries along with US$54bn in direct support to energy technology schemes by 2017.”
Sector Skills Councils are already active in solar water heating, solar photovoltaic’s (PV) for microgeneration, ground source heat pumps, biomass, biofuels, microhydro generation systems, fuel cell technology, rainwater harvesting, grey water, mechanical heat recovery ventilation, low energy lighting and smart metering.
Last year, Scotland exported £845 million in low-carbon and renewable energy goods, with wind at £112m and solar PV at £88m.
Discussion paper examines more than renewable energy
The discussion paper highlights a range of rapidly-expanding low carbon market opportunities, not just in the renewable energy industry but in every sector and business across Scotland, it explains.
“As we emerge from recession, we have an opportunity to develop new low-carbon products and services to accelerate economic recovery in the shortterm, and to drive long-term sustainable economic growth.”
The discussion paper is designed to gather views from across Scotland, in advance of the Government’s release of a Low Carbon Strategy this autumn. Responses to the consultation document are due by June.