Scottish Energy Advisory Board minutes: December 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 6 December 2023.

Attendees and apologies


  • Rt. Hon. Humza Yousaf MSP, First Minister (co-chair)
  • Prof. Sir Jim McDonald, Principal Professor and Vice Chancellor, University of Strathclyde (co-chair)  

Members in attendance

  • Prof. Keith Bell, Co-chair, Energy Networks SLG and committee member, CCC
  • Melfort Campbell, Co-chair, Oil & Gas & Energy Transition SLG and CEO, IMES Group
  • Lewis Shand-Smith, Chair, Energy Consumers Commission
  • Brian McFarlane, Co-chair, Scottish Offshore Wind Energy Council and Head of Projects, SSE
  • Adrian Gillespie, Chief Executive, Scottish Enterprise
  • Jane Morrison-Ross, Chief Executive, South of Scotland Enterprise
  • David Whitehouse, CEO, OEUK
  • Andrew Jamieson, Chief Executive, ORE Catapult
  • Fintan Slye, Director, National Grid ESO
  • Charles Hammond, CEO, Forth Ports
  • Jim McColl, Founder and CEO, Clyde Blowers
  • Dave Pearson, Director, Star Renewables
  • Stuart Black, CEO, HIE
  • Frank Mitchell, Chair, SDS
  • Keith Anderson, CEO, Scottish Power
  • Keith MacLean, Founder and Director, Providence Policy
  • Sam Ghibaldan, Consumer Scotland

Scottish Government attendees

  • Kersti Berge, Director for Energy and Climate Change
  • Ragne Low, Deputy Director for Onshore Electricity
  • Michelle Quinn, Director for Offshore Wind
  • Lisa McDonald, Deputy Director, Offshore Wind Programme, Investment and Skills
  • Head of Energy Strategy and Markets Unit
  • Head of Heat Strategy and Consumer Policy Unit
  • Head of Electricity Networks and Regulation
  • SEAB Secretariat


  • Rozanne Foyer, General Secretary, STUC


Items and actions

Welcome and Introductions

Sir Jim welcomed members and introduced the agenda.

The First Minister extended his welcome and provided introductory remarks in which he made clear his priorities around driving investment into new clean energy infrastructure and increasing green growth in Scotland. He also shared his wish for there to be open and honest dialogue at SEAB on the challenges ahead, and his desire to demonstrate genuine action while working with local government and the UK Government, and wider stakeholders.

Scotland’s Future Energy System

Scottish Government officials introduced the draft Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan, setting out a proposed vision for Scotland’s future energy system, including energy generation mix and future demand. These themes were raised at the last SEAB meeting.

Melfort Campbell observed that there is a need to grow industrial opportunities in Scotland, as well as demand. He noted that there is an economic opportunity to transform industrial capability.

Andrew Jamieson noted the critical nature of a whole system approach, particularly in relation to offshore wind opportunities, where increased entrepreneurialism and innovation are needed. He also argued that we need to be clearer on the true scale of the hydrogen opportunity.

Keith Bell highlighted Scotland’s engineering capacity and the benefits from a Scottish engineering training hub. He agreed that clarity is required on opportunities from a hydrogen market, and a clearer overall strategy on the role that hydrogen will play, borne out by evidence/ analysis.

Claire Mack underlined the importance of clear ambitions in setting strong market signals. Scotwind in particular, and INTOG, have been powerful market signals for offshore wind, as is the £500m commitment on wider infrastructure and supply chain. There is a need for an expeditious consenting process to underpin accelerated growth in the offshore wind sector.

The First Minister thanked the members for their comments, highlighting that many of the points made would be covered in the upcoming Green Industrial Strategy and agreed that there is a lot of international interest in Scotland’s potential.

Heat in Buildings

Scottish Government officials gave a presentation on proposals for a Heat in Buildings Bill, launched on 28 November, and asked for members’ views.

Dave Pearson shared a concern that the Review of Electricity Market Arrangements (REMA) will not do enough to help consumers with electricity prices.

Lewis Shand-Smith said a new public engagement strategy was required, adding that fuel poverty was becoming all too commonplace.

The First Minister emphasised the importance of legislation to send signals to the market. He noted the need for political consensus when tackling climate change, and through the energy transition to the benefit of consumers.

Electricity Grid

Scottish Government officials gave a presentation on the critical importance of grid for our net zero energy ambitions.

Fintan Slye spoke about the constraints of reserved powers and stated that the SSEP (Strategic Spatial Energy Plan) will be a key enabler to unlocking the acceleration of electricity network infrastructure build-out.

Keith Anderson agreed that we must ensure consenting and permitting is streamlined and necessary resources are in place including training and skills.

Sam Ghibaldan noted the importance of public engagement in the transition.

The First Minister agreed that industry and government both need to be clear what the long-term vision is.

Offshore Wind Programme Strategic Outline Business Case

The membership agreed to endorse the approach taken toward offshore wind investment opportunities and next steps after a presentation given by Scottish Government officials.

Andrew Jamieson agreed that supply chain expansion is needed, as well as more value-added services.

Several members referred to overcoming regulatory and consents barriers to ensure Scotland is the fastest place to develop projects.

Adrian Gillespie said greater collaboration is needed in terms of innovation but noted that the pipeline of inward investment is very strong.

Members discussed being clearer on milestones, working backwards from the 2030 ambition and fully understanding the reality on the ground.

The First Minister noted the importance for investors of clarity on milestones and agreed that that clarity would be beneficial for schools, further and higher education institutions and employers in terms of skills development.

Sir Jim asked members to actively contribute to collaboration on all of this important work.  

Summary of Actions

Scottish Government officials to consider how to improve our collective understanding of how to match industrial capability to subsequent demand in key potential energy sector markets.

Scottish Government officials to explore international examples (e.g. Germany) of long-term planning in support of order book certainty, and of regulatory mechanisms to accelerate grid infrastructure and associated supply chain roll-out.

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