How can future green energy demands be met, asks Holyrood's Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee

The Economy, Energy and Fair Work Committee is looking for a wide range of views on electric vehicle infrastructure and local energy as part of a three-part inquiry into the energy sector.

In a short but focused inquiry the Committee will be undertaking an ‘holistic health check’ on the Scottish Government’s role in powering and increasing the use of electric vehicles, locally owned energy all the while linking in the recent Royal Society of Edinburgh’s Scotland’s Energy Future Report.

Committee Convener, Gordon Lindhurst MSP said:

“While the areas the Committee are looking at are distinct in their own nature, they are all very much linked to one another in relation to decarbonising the Scottish economy.

“The Scottish Government made key pledges in their Programme for Government on the increased use of electric vehicles, including the phasing out of petrol and diesel cars by 2032. It is important to see, in practical terms, how this will be achieved and what major changes in infrastructure are needed.”

“I look forward to seeing the views from across Scotland about how best we as a nation can decarbonise the energy sector and produce a greener future.”

 

Background

The key areas that the Committee hopes to explore are:

  • The RSE’s Future Energy Report was published in June 2019 following nearly two years of inquiry. It is a comprehensive study with the following remit:
  • Reviewing the influences on energy demand in Scotland;
  • Examining how that demand may be met, and assessing the feasibility and security of the range of possible options;
  • Taking account of the environmental imperative to reduce carbon emissions and associated political commitments;
  • Considering the moral and ethical implications of the various options open to Scotland;How and where energy resources are developed, the way in which we use them, and
  • The level of responsibility we have as a nation for the energy we consume.

 

Ten key recommendations were made, as follows:

  • An independent expert advisory commission on energy policy and governance for Scotland should be established under statute.
  • Decisions on how and in what to invest must be made, and the most effective timeframes for investment activity and the potential nature of returns on different types of investment must be properly considered, by both the Scottish and UK governments, in a timely manner.
  • Scotland requires a clearly articulated position on security of supply and must decide whether domestic energy-generating capacity should be increased.
  • Scotland should look to improve its energy security by increasing the capacity, and diversifying its range, of storage options.
  • Achieving our climate protection targets can be made easier by reducing overall demand for energy and achieving this should be a priority.
  • Enforcing higher standards of energy efficiency in new-build housing and infrastructure should be a regulatory priority.
  • Building regulations around energy efficiency and their enforcement should be regularly reviewed to ensure they are both more responsive to R&D and consistent with policy targets.
  • The Scottish Government should review the need for R&D investment and skills development.
  • Serious consideration should be given to how best to socialise the costs of transition to address issues of social justice.

 

The Programme for Government has made a series of commitments in relation to electric vehicles (EVs) or ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs), including:

 

  • Phasing out new petrol and diesel cars by 2032, ahead of the UK Government’s 2040 target.
  • Providing £17 million to support the demand for ULEVs through the Low Carbon Transport Loan scheme and expanding the scheme to include used EVs.
  • Creating the conditions to phase out the need for all new petrol and diesel vehicles in Scotland’s public sector fleet by 2030 and phasing out the need for all petrol and diesel cars from the public sector fleet by 2025.
  • Forming a new Strategic Partnership with electricity network companies to improve electric vehicle charging infrastructure and electricity networks across Scotland.

 

The Scottish Government has set targets of 1GW of community and locally owned energy by 2020, and 2GW by 2030.

 

The most recent progress report, published in June 2018, found that 617.06MW of locally owned, and 79.65MW of community owned projects have been installed; amounting to a total of 697MW, or 70% of the 2020 target and 35% of the 2030 target. This is a 6% increase in operational capacity in the last year. 

 

A total of 18,830 individual renewable energy installations is split between:

  • 432 MW of electrical capacity
  • 256 MW of thermal (heat) capacity
  • 7 MW of combined heat and power (CHP) capacity
  • 2 MW of capacity attributable to ‘unspecified’ technologies or energy categories e.g. energy from waste projects


 

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