First Minister Humza Yousaf has warned that Scotland risks losing out on energy transition opportunities unless the UK government pursues more ambitious policies.
The First Minister said without “urgent change”, the UK would fall behind its international competitors and risked “throwing away the transformational green opportunities available to Scotland.”
The comments come ahead of Mr Yousaf’s opening address to the All-Energy conference in Glasgow on Wednesday, in which he is expected set out his ambitions for the energy sector as a central part of Scotland’s future net-zero economy.
In his first major speech to industry since taking on the role, he will call on the UK Government to be a “willing partner” with Scotland by committing to a raft of measures which would help drive investment in green technologies and make the most of the country’s renewable energy potential.
These measures are set to include a request for Westminster to work with Holyrood to announce an “accelerated timetable” for the north-east’s Acorn carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) scheme.
The project, based at St Fergus and central to the wider Scottish Cluster decarbonisation project, missed out on “Track 1” funding in 2021, and is now considered a “leading contender” for the Track 2 process which is currently in progress.
In addition, Mr Yousaf will ask the UK government to “at the very least” match the Scottish Government’s £500 million Just Transition Fund for the north east and Moray.
He will also call for measures to address the transmission charging system that “penalise” offshore wind generators in Scotland and act as a disincentive to further investment.
The current charging system was designed around 30 years ago as a means of incentivising operators to build projects near to major urban hubs, but means developments in remote locations – like many on- and offshore projects in Scotland – have to pay large fees to put energy into the grid.
The system was last year labelled a “robbery” by Aberdeen MP Stephen Flynn.
Wednesday’s plenary speech is also set to contain further announcements on Scotland’s low-carbon hydrogen plans.
The Scottish government unveiled a Hydrogen Action Plan in December which set out 33 actions that to be taken over the next five years to support the development of a hydrogen economy, backed by £100m of funding.
‘Further and faster’
Speaking ahead of the All-Energy Conference, the First Minister said: “The Scottish Government sees the move to net zero as the biggest economic opportunity this country has, as well as being an environmental necessity.
“There is a global climate emergency and the Government I lead is determined to support the energy sector in every way we can as we make progress towards net zero.
“For our part, the Scottish Government will lead from the front when it comes to key measures to deliver a Just Transition, ensuring no workers are left behind.
“We will seek to work closely with partners, including the wider industry, and of course the UK Government, who hold many of the key powers in relation to energy. Action from the UK Government is essential to ensure that both Scotland and the UK meet our climate targets and harness the economic benefits of the Just Transition.
“But the truth is, like so many areas of the Brexit-based economy, that the UK risks falling further behind comparable countries, and throwing away the transformational green opportunities available to Scotland, unless there is an urgent change.
“The Scottish Government is absolutely committed to embracing the future and investing in the technology that will get us to net zero. Under my leadership, we are ready to step up and accept we need to go further and faster – but we urgently need the UK Government to take decisive action as well.
“In the face of generous subsidies being offered elsewhere, we need the UK Government to be a willing partner by committing to a much more ambitious strategy for encouraging green investment – in order to ensure that Scotland and the rest of the UK are not left behind in the race for global capital.”
The comments come as the UK scrambles to respond to major green initiatives such as the US’ multibillion-dollar Inflation Reduction Act and the EU’s Green Deal.
Running from 10-11 May, more than 7,500 people attended last year’s two-day All-Energy event, while more than 250 exhibitors and 500+ speakers are booked to visit in 2023.