The choices we make about energy are among the most important decisions we face. The supply of safe, reliable energy underpins the continued growth of the Scottish economy and delivery of key services. Our energy industry provides high quality jobs and a vibrant climate for innovation. Affordable energy provision is a prerequisite for healthy, fulfilling living and productive, competitive business.
This is a strategy for the period to 2050; an appropriate time frame in which to consider a full energy transition. We can be proud of the expertise and innovation within our oil and gas industry and the industry will continue to have a key role as Scotland makes its transition to a low carbon economy. The exploration and production of oil and gas in Scottish waters will continue to provide high-value employment and a stable energy supply for decades to come. Our ambition is that these strengths should also provide the engineering and technical bedrock for the transformational change in Scotland's energy system over the coming decades.
Scotland's climate ambitions underpin the priorities laid out in this draft strategy consultation, determined by Scotland's Climate Change Act, together with our objectives to create a dynamic, sustainable and inclusive economy. A new 2030 'all energy' renewables target is proposed in this draft Energy Strategy - setting an ambitious challenge to deliver the equivalent of half of Scotland's heat, transport and electricity needs from renewable sources and drawing together the ambition for a full transition in each area of energy supply and use.
This is an exciting period, as Scotland's energy supply mix changes. Scotland's electricity production has seen huge shifts in recent years, following the closure of the last coal-fired thermal station. One of Scotland's proudest recent achievements is the huge increase in new renewable electricity supply. As this document is published, the task to fully decarbonise electricity production has been largely achieved in Scotland - well ahead of other countries, which will now have to make a similar transition to prevent the damaging effects of global climate change. Scotland's achievements leave us with a different kind of energy challenge from that of most countries; one where heat and transport take on even greater significance than electricity.
We are already seeing the benefits of Scotland's ongoing transition, with over forty thousand people employed in the low carbon and renewable energy economy in Scotland.
In sectors such as low carbon heating, our supportive policy environment has allowed Scottish-based companies to compete globally. Such opportunities are likely to increase in future years, as the international market for low carbon goods and services continues to grow.
Our patterns of energy use are changing too. We are now more efficient than ever in the use of energy - and further major shifts in our energy use lie ahead. The car that we drive today, for example, is typically fuelled with petrol or diesel. Our future transport needs will be met substantially through electricity or alternative fuels; presenting new infrastructure challenges and new patterns of behaviour for users. How consumers engage with these choices will be guided by 'smart' technologies, providing better information on energy use and a better platform for informed decisions on when it is best to consume energy.
Choices about the scale of supply and consumption of energy have substantially broadened in recent years. Consumers can now generate energy for their own needs, from solar panels or a wind turbine for example. In the future, groups of consumers may choose to invest jointly in new local energy solutions. The ability to store energy is also changing dramatically, with local solutions to complement larger-scale, national infrastructure provision. Scotland will need a more flexible energy system, which can accommodate the many choices that consumers and generators will make in the future. This energy challenge represents an exciting opportunity to capture the economic benefits of pioneering these approaches, here, in Scotland.
Most important of all, we recognise that energy remains unaffordable for too many in Scotland. The resultant fuel poverty creates misery for individuals and families. This is driven partly by high energy prices, but a further significant driver is a building stock that is, all too often, profoundly wasteful in energy. While significant strides have already been taken in improving the energy efficiency of domestic properties, improving the energy efficiency of all of Scotland's building stock - both domestic and non-domestic - and, eventually, decarbonising the heat supply to those buildings, stands as the major long-term energy challenge for Scotland. This draft Energy Strategy aims to set out how Scotland can meet the needs of those who are least able to pay for their energy, through supporting energy solutions that provide warmer homes and better outcomes for consumers overall.
We hope that in the months ahead, in finalising our Energy Strategy, this document stimulates debate about the energy challenges in Scotland and the policies needed to meet the aspirations of the people of Scotland to deliver a secure, sustainable energy future for all, in the best interests of our communities, economy and environment.
Paul Wheelhouse MSP
Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy.
Email: Jenna Williamson