Local energy policy statement

This local energy policy statement containing set of key principles and associated outcomes represents the values we wish to see adopted.

Chapter 1: People - Building a future energy system that is shaped by and for the people of Scotland


  • Undertake early engagement with people who will be involved, directly and   indirectly.
  • Recognise and tailor support to the different ways people will want to engage.

This chapter highlights that the way people interact with energy will change in the future and discusses what this might mean for people and communities.

1.1 A future shaped by people

The Scottish Government's vision is to build a future energy system that is shaped by and for the people of Scotland.  By people we mean all energy users, living and working within a community and/or businesses.    

Local energy is wide-ranging, touching on many different areas and impacting on everyone – regardless of who you are or where you live.

In 2019, the Scottish Government published our Energy Consumer Action Plan[2] which established a framework to place energy consumer considerations at the heart of Scotland's energy policy – from local energy to energy efficiency and electric.

The Action Plan recognised the role that Scotland's energy consumers will play in making a net zero emissions Scotland a reality and for the behaviour change  required in consumers for this to take place, we must ensure that any change happens with people, not to them.   

Across the sector we must act now to improve our understanding of people's needs and interests, taking steps to protect them from regressive impacts, and encouraging the changes in behaviour which are critical to achieving net zero emissions. 

Energy Consumer Action Plan

Top priorities of the plan include:

  • Establishing an independent Energy Consumer Commission for Scotland to give people a more powerful voice in devolved energy policy and those areas reserved to the UK government.
  • Investing in new approaches to ensure that the energy market works for all energy consumers, including the most vulnerable, through our Improving Consumer Outcomes Fund. 
  • Advocating for much needed reforms to the energy market to the UK Government, industry and Ofgem

1.2 Future energy system

There is still uncertainty around what a future energy system will look like.  What is clear is there will be more choice in the ways people produce, consume and purchase the energy they need and thus, the ways in which people interact with the energy system is likely to be more complex than the current arrangements.

At present, the most informed people are able to take advantage of the opportunities that new local energy services can offer: we need to raise general awareness across all of Scottish society to ensure everyone becomes better informed and can take advantage of these opportunities. 

The responsibility to make that happen is a collective one, involving a wide range of stakeholders across the energy sector, not solely the Scottish Government.  We all have a responsibility to provide support and advice to help engage people. Only then can people begin to make the changes required to deliver net zero by 2045 in a way that is fair and inclusive.

1.3 Building on strong foundations

Scotland has a legacy of strong community engagement in local renewable energy generation projects. Our flagship Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES)[3] has supported hundreds of local community groups and other organisations to develop, own and/ or take a stake in local renewable energy projects across Scotland. 

The Scottish Government had a target for 500MW by 2020 which was exceeded, and we increased this to 1 GW for 2020 and 2 GW for 2030.  Progress towards this target has been positive, but changes in UK Government subsidies (for example, the closure of the Feed-in Tariff Scheme) has undermined progress. However we continue to encourage shared ownership models as a means of increasing community-led involvement in commercial projects.  

As we move towards recovery from the pandemic there needs to be greater focus and priority given to decarbonisation as the driver for community-led action.  New opportunities for communities will arise in the shift towards more localised energy solutions, giving more influence and choice and in doing so improving the quality of life for those living there.

Local energy projects will be more complex (for example, involving multiple stakeholders, new technologies, etc.) and involve more diverse groups of people within a local community, each with their own specific objectives.  This means that people  both as individuals and as part of wider-communities - will become more relevant and important. However, for each of these groups, the common expectations are that the energy system will be affordable, secure, reliable and resilient.

The Delivery Framework sets out a number of actions that will be taken forward to enhance support for community-led activity within the next CARES contract period which starts from 1 April 2021.

Case Study: Greener Kirkcaldy 

Greener Kirkcaldy, a community-led development trust in Fife, works locally to benefit people and the environment. 

They would like to see a future where everyone can heat their home affordably, eat well, and tread lightly on our planet. 

They want their local community to get ahead of the curve during this period of transition to a low carbon energy system and make sure no-one gets left behind. They are planning to install solar PV on their community building, and have secured Scottish Government funding to add battery energy storage to make the most of the energy generated. Once it is installed, they will demonstrate their energy system to other community centres in Fife, to help them future proof their facilities and be ready to engage in a more locally managed, low carbon energy system. 

They are also planning to inform their community about solar PV and storage, brief them on changes coming in the wider energy system and how individuals might engage and benefit from this engagement. 

Greener Kirkcaldy are participating in Community Energy Scotland's 'Community Energy Futures' programme. This is helping build the knowledge and capacity of community groups in areas of high fuel poverty, to help their communities gear up and benefit from the coming energy changes so that no-one is left behind.

1.4 Early engagement

It is important that organisations developing projects or providing enabling infrastructure undertake meaningful and open engagement with the people and communities who have an interest, there are many organisations across Scotland who are already well established within communities who are known, trusted and can help. We encourage all to explore how local trusted organisations can support project development.

Community engagement should start as early as possible and should continue throughout the development phase of the activity and also throughout construction, operation and beyond.  When planning an initial community consultation, it may be helpful to consider:

  • What should be the geographical area to engage (as linked to Chapter 2)?
  • Within that area, who are the appropriate contacts and communities of interest for consultation?
  • How best can vulnerable groups within the community can be engaged and represented?

There are already processes in place at a local level that require consultation, led by the Local Authority, primarily to support planning. These could, potentially, be adapted to include local energy needs. The Scottish Government's Good Practice Principles[4] [5] for renewable energy developments provides a good starting point in helping a community to understand what's involved.

When dealing with people, who are often removed from the energy system and its development, it will be important to be clear what the rationale is for the project or proposal and that this is done in a way that is easy to understand.  For example, is the focus energy security, low carbon heat, or the introduction of more electric vehicle charging infrastructure. This will help in reassuring people and also help with future projects.

1.5 No one is left behind

The Scottish Government recognises that achieving its ambitions for tackling climate change will require transformation across our economy and society. As the pace of our transition increases, the need to ensure it is just becomes ever more important. That is why the Scottish Government has taken world-leading action to embed Just Transition principles[6] in our Climate Change legislation.  

The Scottish Government has also established a Just Transition Commission[7] to provide practical advice on 'a net-zero economy that is fair for all'. It is considering how to achieve this in a way that tackles inequality and poverty, while promoting a fair and inclusive jobs market.  The commission started work in January 2019 and produced an interim report in February 2020.  In light of COVID-19, the need to ensure a just transition is more important than ever.  

The Fuel Poverty (Targets, Definition and Strategy) (Scotland) Act 2019[8], passed with unanimous support across Parliament in 2019 set out ambitious targets towards eradicating fuel poverty across Scotland.    

The future energy system is likely to see rapid changes in technology and innovation. This is expected to bring more choice for consumers (both domestic and business users), and greater economic opportunities/ benefits for Scotland. However, it is important to recognise that there may be additional costs, and that some people may struggle to grasp the new opportunities in the energy market.  Consideration must be given as to how low income families across Scotland are not unfairly burdened with these costs and to ensure that their energy is affordable. 

An Equality Impact Assessment and Fairer Scotland Impact Assessment has been undertaken in conjunction with this Policy Statement.

1.6 Driving Demand Reduction

Reducing Scotland's energy demand is a key component of the energy transition.  Smarter energy systems, combined with more energy efficient homes and more empowered and knowledgeable people who have greater control over their energy, will be large factors in achieving a net zero economy.

Energy Efficient Scotland[9] is the Scottish Government's 20 year programme containing a set of actions aimed at making Scotland's existing buildings near zero carbon by 2045 in a way that is socially and economically sustainable. By the end of the programme Energy Efficient Scotland will have transformed the energy efficiency and heating of Scotland's buildings making existing homes, shops, offices, schools and hospitals more comfortable and easier to heat. 

However, this role should not fall to the Scottish Government alone - it is critical that there is a shared purpose and responsibility encompassing all of Scottish society for reducing our energy demand and being responsible consumers of energy.  

We Will

  • Review how the Just Transition Commission recommendations and principles, when published, can be applied to those developing local energy projects.
  • Provide a tailored package of advice and support to develop community-led projects, with a focus on decarbonisation, in the next CARES contract period which starts on 1 April 2021
  • As part of the next CARES contract period, identify and support disengaged and vulnerable groups, including direct support to specific groups and awareness raising more generally in local communities.  


Email: ashton.blackburn@gov.scot

Back to top