We submitted a response to the Scottish Government's Draft Energy Strategy and Just Transition plan, following comments from our membership, board directors and other partner organisations.
Our view is that the draft Strategy and Plan sets strong foundations but will fail to move us at the necessary pace, and with the necessary focus, to achieve a just energy transition for Scotland by 2045. While it outlines commendable initiatives and targets, collectively these lack a cohesive framework. Energy is a system, and it requires an integrated systems approach to engendering change. Due to the constraints presented by our grid infrastructure; and also due to the location of potential in the rapid deployment of human resources and tested technology, we believe an integrated systems approach should foremostly be designed and delivered at local or community network level, providing demand side flexibility, resource adequacy and system resilience within the context of 100% renewables-dependent generation. There are opportunities to meet energy consumption needs through smaller scale generation, storage and smart local energy systems, with households and businesses educated and supported to reduce or manage their demand, including through exercising agency with regards to transport and heating.
Notably, this approach holds promise for maximising environmental and community benefits, something which the Strategy and Plan is demonstrably committed to but, with its current actions and targets, will fall short of delivering. With respect to community benefits, in the current draft, these are mainly associated with community benefit payments and shared ownership arrangements negotiated between communities and developers. While both these mechanisms have a role to play, outright community or local ownership of energy generation and modes of deployment must be supported and incentivised as a means to achieving integrated local energy systems which keep wealth circulating within communities. This is in line with Scotland’s aspirations for a wellbeing economy but, crucially also, it is in line with Scotland’s responsibility, both domestically and on a global scale, to deliver on the climate justice agenda.