Scottish Energy Advisory Board minutes: January 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the Scottish Energy Advisory Board

Attendees and apologies


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

Members in attendance

  • Michael Matheson MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport
  • 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
  • Keith Anderson, CEO, Scottish Power
  • Mark Wild, CEO, SGN
  • Rozanne Foyer, General Secretary, STUC
  • Adrian Gillespie, Chief Executive, Scottish Enterprise
  • Jane Morrison-Ross, Chief Executive, South of Scotland Enterprise
  • David Whitehouse, CEO, OEUK
  • Andrew Jamison, Chief Executive, ORE Catapult
  • Fintan Slye, Director, National Grid ESO
  • Ronnie Quinn, CEO, NECCUS
  • Matt Sykes, Managing Director, Generation, EDF
  • Charles Hammond, CEO, Forth Ports
  • Keith MacLean, Founder and Director, Providence Policy
  • Jim McColl, Founder and CEO, Clyde Blowers
  • Dave Pearson, Director, Star Renewables

Scottish Government attendees

  • Kersti Berge, Director of Energy and Climate Change
  • Ragne Low, Deputy Director for Onshore Electricity
  • Andrew Hogg, Deputy Director for Energy Industries
  • Sue Kearns, Deputy Director for Heat in Buildings
  • Catriona Laing, Deputy Director for Climate Change
  • Head of Whole Energy Systems & Technical Policy Unit


  • Ian Marchant, CEO, Dunelm Energy
  • Alistair Phillips-Davies, SSE
  • Stuart Black, HIE
  • Frank Mitchell, SDS
  • Andrew Jamieson, ORE Catapult
  • Collette Cohen. Net Zero Technology Centre
  • Claire Mack, CEO, RESLG Scottish Renewables

Items and actions

Welcome and Introductions

The First Minister made opening remarks, welcoming and thanking members for their attendance.

Minutes and matters arising 

Previous minutes from SEAB’s April 2022 meeting were approved by the group.

Discussion on the draft Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan

Whole systems approach

David Pearson commented that the current policy and strategy direction is good, but would urge consideration of other forms of technology going forward, including river source heat pumps.

Fintan Slye praised the strategy and how it successfully links between Net Zero ambitions, economic growth, job creation/upskilling and the Just Transition. He offered to contribute to a whole systems approach, including considering the scale of expansion in onshore and offshore wind energy, as well as hydrogen, and the role of networks. 

Supply Chain and Skills

David Whitehouse indicated that new investment routes are needed. Investment in oil and gas should only be made if an appropriate climate compatibility checkpoint is in place, and where the industry is driving the transition. He noted that, while the strategy is ambitious, more could be progressed in Scottish and UK based manufacturing than is detailed in the draft. Carbon Capture and storage could be a tremendous international business for Scotland.

Charles Hammond noted that he has written to the UK Government sharing how to make the planning system more proactive to ensure that more green investment is secured.

There is a clear intention to continue to invest in infrastructure and the renewable energy supply chain and to collaborate with others on the East and West coasts of Scotland to ensure the success of the industry across the whole of Scotland. This could be aided with further public investment in skills.

Keith Anderson noted that Scottish Power launched their “1000 New Green Jobs” campaign the previous week, but that more work is needed to address the retraining and upskilling of Scotland’s workforce.

Eileen Russell said that it was positive that skills are mentioned heavily throughout the ESJTP and stated the importance investing in up-skilling immediately. Further, she noted that Skills Development Scotland (SDS) is committed to providing up-skilling, but in order to do that they require more in-depth programme planning. SDS will be providing detailed feedback on the ESJTP during the consultation period.

The First Minister thanked those that had contributed so far and said that it was interesting and helpful to hear the positive reaction to the strategy. The First Minister stated that there would be merit in further consideration by the Board of skills and whole system. The First Minister also highlighted that the contribution that the oil and gas industry has made to Scotland’s economy, society, and energy security for over half a century has been vitally important, and the oil and gas sector must be supported though the energy transition.

Sir Jim thanked the First Minister for her comments and continued the meeting, inviting further discussion. The First Minister left the meeting at this point.

Lewis Shand-Smith raised the concern that there are not enough people to upskill and train. He also noted that it is crucial that action to upskill is distributed widely across Scotland, and highlighted the need to focus on maximising investment by ensuring that we consider partnership with local communities. There is a huge opportunity for community renewal and community democracy.

Melfort Campbell noted the need to consider the skills that people currently have, as well as the skills which will be required in the future. Bridging this gap could be stronger within the strategy and better tie in with academic research. It is important to ensure that this is a fair and just transition, and to be aware of the danger of leaving those behind that depend heavily on hydrocarbons for cooking, heat and light. There is an opportunity for stimulating enterprise investment which can support the conversion of existing housing stock and commercial buildings.

Ronnie Quinn welcomed the focus on CCUS in the draft strategy, and suggested that, more broadly, the ESJTP would benefit from including a critical path analysis to help identify barriers.

The Cabinet Secretary noted that he was pleased to hear the positive reactions to the draft ESJTP, and stated that the Scottish Government will take into consideration the points made in the meeting on increasing the ambition of the strategy. He also noted that there are many transferable skills that can be used to support the transition. The Cabinet Secretary observed that there is also significant work happening alongside the strategy, for example on skills. 

David Whitehouse reflected on the imperative to decarbonise homes, and the significant domestic supply chain opportunities arising from this. 

Keith Anderson highlighted that it is important that we do not lose focus on the need for investment, and that we think carefully about the transition timeline and in particular planning and consenting timescales.

Brian McFarlane welcomed the strategy and noted that it is a significant step in the right direction. There are huge economic opportunities, with upskilling Scotland’s workforce leading to job creation. He also noted the need for a plan for delivery for the strategy, including key actions.

Energy Efficiency and Heat 

Keith Bell recognised the Scottish Government’s work on a Heat and Buildings Bill, and stated that he is keen to find what the Scottish Government consider to be the main barriers to the delivery and how the members of SEAB could help with overcoming those. He noted the significant distributed jobs opportunities from buildings decarbonisation.

David Pearson observed the extent of reserved powers on energy and highlighted that a major barrier for heat pumps is the price of electricity, stating that this is policy driven and not the result of a technical or production barrier. 

Mark Wild noted the need to ramp up the insulation of Scotland’s housing stock, and that in order for the transition to be successful, we must focus not only on renewable technology but also energy efficiency improvements. He noted the need to take a whole systems approach, including recognising the value of hydrogen or gas on cold, still days.

Lewis Shand-Smith warmly welcomed the ESJTP but flagged the need to promote buy-in with consumers and agreed with Mark Wild on the importance of insulating homes.

Eileen Russell highlighted that we must be clear about how we are going to create these new net-zero job opportunities, as well as communicate to the population that they are an attractive and beneficial line of work. Additionally, she highlighted the inherent equalities opportunities in the transition.

AOB and close

Sir Jim concluded, announcing that the aim of the board was to meet again in April and thanked everyone again for their time.

Summary of Actions

The Scottish Government to explore with SEAB how to address skills development and a whole energy system approach. 
The Scottish Government to continue consideration of how to ensure a whole energy system view, and to take SEAB members’ comments into consideration in further development of the ESJTP. 

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