1. Ministerial Foreword
Scotland's Energy Strategy, published in December 2017, marked an important milestone in our transition to a carbon neutral economy. Taking a whole system approach, it provided a comprehensive overview of Scottish Government energy policy for the first time - covering reserved as well as devolved matters, and fully consistent with our climate change ambitions.
Our Climate Change Plan, published early in 2018, underlined the need to transform the way we produce, generate and use energy in Scotland - and the importance of energy as one of the key sectors of our economy. That's why the latest advice from the Climate Change Commission, published earlier this month, is so important. We embrace the new report and all that it contains - we have acted immediately to amend our Climate Change Bill to set a net-zero target for 2045. This means we will have the most stringent statutory targets in the world; we have proposed these new targets in good faith that the UK Government will also act quickly to raise its ambition in line with the CCC's advice.
Our Energy Strategy was designed to be flexible, and able to respond to changes in the commercial, political and social environment within which we are operating. In this Statement, we highlight the key developments in the sector which will have an impact upon our ability to deliver the Strategy, our progress made to date, and our key plans for the coming year and beyond.
Although the challenges remain huge, we are determined to do all that we can, using the powers that we have, to steer a sustainable path towards a Just Transition. However, there are several key areas where the progress and changes we want to see will rely upon the decisions and actions of others.
We will continue to look to the private sector to bring forward solutions to some of the challenges facing us, in turn realising the enormous economic opportunity that this transition represents; but we will also need greater ambition and co-operative action from the UK Government.
This applies not only to support and market mechanisms for the renewables and low carbon industry in Scotland and across the UK, but also to the major decisions required about the future of the gas network, needed to accelerate the decarbonisation of heat.
There are areas where we plan to take further action to develop Scotland's knowledge and competitive position. One of these concerns the role of hydrogen, which has huge potential across the whole energy system - as a means of decarbonising heat and transport, providing storage to help balance Scotland's growing renewable electricity generation, and drawing on the enormous expertise embodied in Scotland's oil and gas sector. This will continue to be an important part of the energy landscape as we go through this transition.
The right decisions at the right times will provide the necessary certainty for people and businesses, unlocking investment, and helping deliver the transformational change in renewable and low carbon heat that we have already seen in electricity.
The Scottish Government, through Scotland's Energy Strategy, has an important part to play in leading these debates, and influencing the changes we want and need to see. We share a great deal of common ground with the UK and other devolved governments; we intend to work collaboratively and constructively on these matters, and to help deliver outcomes consistent with our ambitions and priorities.
We are also working with consumer, industry, regulatory and business stakeholders, and with UK, European and international counterparts, as we aim to meet these challenges collectively and in the most sustainable way.
I am delighted to publish this first Annual Energy Statement. It allows us to reflect not only on the significant progress that has been made, but also to review our priorities and plans in the face of the changes continuing to take place around us - including the Scottish Government's commitment to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045, following updated technical advice from the UK Committee on Climate Change.
Paul Wheelhouse MSP,
Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands