The past ten months have been a very testing time for everyone. The COVID-19 pandemic has touched every aspect of our lives and will likely continue to do so for a long time. We are now carefully and cautiously moving into the recovery phase. As we do so, our aim is to ensure that Scotland's economic recovery promotes inclusive growth, creates opportunities for all, and supports and accelerates our transition towards a net-zero economy.
Consumers and Scotland's local communities are integral to both our green recovery and the ways in which we will rebuild following the pandemic. I want to ensure they remain front and centre, and able to remerge stronger with increased resilience. This Local Energy Policy Statement, underpinned by ten principles sets out how we can achieve this.
Our energy system is changing, with renewable and low carbon energy providing the foundation of our future energy system. By 2030, we aim to be able to generate 50% or more of Scotland's overall energy consumption from renewable sources, and by 2045 we aim to decarbonise our energy system almost completely. A shift towards more localised energy solutions is a vital part of our journey to a net zero future with Local Energy developing alongside (and within) a vibrant national energy network.
The local energy landscape is complex. It involves a range of different links, relationships and interdependencies which this statement seeks to explain. Links with other key Scottish Government policies include the heat decarbonisation challenge, tackling fuel poverty and supporting local heat and energy efficiency strategies.
We have a strong foundation to build on. For over a decade the Scottish Government's flagship Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES) has provided support to hundreds of local community groups and other eligible organisations to develop, own and/ or take a stake in local renewable energy projects across Scotland. The post COVID-19 green recovery now requires a shift in focus to decarbonisation as the key driver for community-led action at a local level.
In response to the feedback from the consultation process, a Delivery Framework has been produced which sets out a number of actions that will be taken forward by us and others to support the policy statement's implementation.
I would like to thank the Steering Group who attended meetings and shared their expertise, all those who responded to the public consultation, and those who attended workshops and webinars. All views received were greatly appreciated and helped shape this Policy Statement.
Although we have a long road still to travel with COVID-19, it is already clear that our recovery must make Scotland more resilient to future crises, including those associated with climate change. A just transition to net zero is crucial to building our resilience, and will help deliver a recovery from the pandemic that supports emissions reductions, while ensuring that industry and communities benefit across Scotland.
In anticipation of a 'new normal' it is paramount that we all work together. In doing so we have a chance to build a fairer and greener society and economy – one that will thrive.
Paul Wheelhouse MSP
Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands