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BLOG: A Call for Evidence that could shift the dial on energy

Posted on 07/03/2019 by Nick Sharpe

It's relatively easy for renewables as an industry to think long-term.

Projects like hydropower stations and the large wind farms which supply the majority of our green electricity can take 15 years from inception to reality.

We’re already thinking about 2030, and even 2050.

That's what makes the Infrastructure Commission for Scotland’s Call for Evidence such an opportunity to think about the future of Scotland more widely, and the central role energy will play in it.

To me, 2050 looks like 100% decarbonised energy, heat and transport, tied to economic growth which benefits everyone in society.

We’ll be less dependent on gas and oil – the dirty fuels which have powered the gigantic leaps we’ve seen in living standards in the last two generations – but we’ll be more connected than ever before, and live in cities which are much larger than they are today.

To get to that place in the context of net-zero carbon emissions is a challenge.

But it's one our industry is almost uniquely equipped to handle.

Over the next five to ten years, for example, we’ll see the variability of renewable energy generation tackled for good, enabling even the smallest of players get a fair deal, all the way down to household and consumer level.

We’ll need to think how the technology which enables that transformation is scaled – at home, town, city and region levels.

And while traditional infrastructure investments – in roads, ports and our electricity grid – will be important, we’ll also need to build dependable infrastructure which can deliver the data networks needed to really shift the dial on the way we look at energy

Big decisions will be required to ensure we don’t lock ourselves into a path of dependency on non-renewable fuels in heat and transport, or which leave us no better off in terms of emissions at a global level.

The Infrastructure Commission for Scotland’s Call for Evidence could be the start of one of those big decisions.

Can we develop infrastructure in Scotland which truly delivers what the people of 2030, 2040 or 2050 will need?

The world is already undergoing a shift towards smart, health and wellbeing-driven lifestyles.

This year’s Consumer Electronics Show was awash with gadgets which gather intelligence and data to make us healthier and happier, from smartwatches which track blood glucose to virtual care assistants which remind users to take our medicine, then measure whether we’ve done so.

As individuals we can easily make choices that support those health and wellbeing-driven lifestyles.

As a society we need to actively pursue options, like renewable energy, which deliver them for everyone.

This call for evidence is an opportunity to set a vision and action plan to do that.

We must make sure we use it to map the dependencies and make the choices which will deliver a Scotland able to meet the challenge of climate change, as well as the ambitions of generations to come.

  • Blog by Claire Mack, Chief Executive, Scottish Renewables.

Pic: Fodagrafs on Foter.com / CC BY

Nick Sharpe

Director of Communications