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Securing the Benefits of Scotland's Next Energy Revolution


Chapter 1: Scotland's low carbon energy potential

Our geographical advantages are so great that Scotland has the opportunity - if it can be grasped - to consolidate its position as a net energy exporter thus providing us with long-term energy security and long-term economic benefits.

17. Scotland has an enormous geographical competitive advantage in the field of low carbon and renewable energy:

  • In a UK context, Scotland punches well above its weight. The waters around the Scottish coast contain around 40% of the UK's fixed offshore wind practical resource; 35% of the floating resource; three-quarters of the wave resource; and over a third of the combined tidal stream and tidal range resource. 1
  • In a European context, current estimates show that Scotland has 25% of Europe's potential offshore wind and tidal power and 10% of its wave potential.
  • Scotland's offshore storage capacity for carbon emissions is the largest in the EU and greater than the capacity of the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany combined.

18. Our geographical advantages are so great that Scotland has the opportunity - if it can be grasped - to consolidate its position as a net energy exporter thus providing it with long-term energy security and long-term economic benefits. Indeed, our future economic prosperity may hinge on the successful and environmentally sustainable exploitation of our natural resources.

19. Some examples of the potential economic benefits of the next energy revolution are worth citing:

The Scottish Low Carbon and Environmental Goods Sector was worth £8.5 billion in 2007/8 and is forecast to grow to around £12 billion by 2015/16. 2

More than 28,000 full-time equivalent jobs could be created in the offshore wind sector, if the most ambitious development scenarios can be realised, according to recent research for Scottish Renewables. Indirect and induced effects could create another 20,000 jobs by 2020. 3

The development of Carbon Capture and Storage ( CCS) opportunities in Scotland has the potential to support 10,000 jobs in Scotland, and, in a broader sense, low carbon employment in Scotland could increase by around 60,000 to approximately 130,000. 4

20. At a time of economic recession across the Western world, when ever deeper budget cuts start to take effect, the opportunity now opening up to Scotland by the next energy revolution is one that we must not miss.

21. Major challenges lie ahead of us, of course, as we try to capitalise on that opportunity:

Maintaining and enhancing the environmental status of our seas must lie at the heart of all our actions in developing a low carbon economy. To allow our precious natural resources to be exploited unsustainably would not just destroy the environmental legacy that future generations will rightly expect us to pass on to them, it would also undermine the very energy revolution that we are seeking to bring about.

We must provide and attract investment into the development of low carbon energy sectors. The necessary infrastructure, research and development, training, technology development and offshore supply-chain all require significant investment, sustained over a number of years, if the full potential of the next energy revolution is to be grasped.

22. Notwithstanding these major challenges, taking the right strategic decisions now on the economic, environmental and planning levels will be key to us grasping the opportunities open to us. They will be key to the successful development of a flourishing and environmentally sustainable renewables industry and low carbon economy; to achieving long-term energy security; to the overall long-term well-being of Scotland as a nation; and to the continued development of thriving local communities the length and breadth of the country.