ScottishRenewables has written to Holyrood ministers pressing the need for a public information campaign to back ‘once-in-a-generation’ upgrades to the grid network.
The trade body wrote to cabinet secretary for finance Shona Robison MSP, making clear its asks for the sector ahead of the Scottish budget due in late December.
Chief amongst those asks is its request for a public information campaign to “highlight why a once-in-a-generation electricity network expansion is needed for our clean energy transition to net-zero,” the missive says.
It comes as National Grid looks to deliver upgrades equivalent to five-times what it has achieved in the last four decades in the seven years to 2030, while Scotland grapples with connection queues for some 40GW of offshore wind in the coming decades.
Yet new lines remain contentious, with many rural communities voicing discontent around proposals, including in the north east of Scotland.
Meanwhile, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt unveiled new plans in the Autumn Statement which would see households closest to new pylons and electricity substations receive up to £10,000 off their bills over a decade.
In addition the renewables body called for the creation of a ‘consenting seed fund’ to help develop potential port and manufacturing projects across Scotland, supported by a net zero ports guarantee scheme that would enable developers to secure funding and unlock investment.
It comes as this week bosses behind the Forth Green Freeport say the region will deliver £7bn of private and public funding over the next decade.
Investment in transmission, port infrastructure and skills would be “early foundations for economic growth”, Scottish Renewables said, while also highlighting other opportunities in the decarbonisation of heat and in maximising Scotland’s green hydrogen potential.
On the latter, it also urged the government to adopt measures to transition “directly” to green hydrogen and set a specific green hydrogen target of 3GW by 2030. That’s underpinned by requests for a hydrogen strategic infrastructure plan which would set out how Scotland could production and export potential of the zero-carbon fuel.
Looking to investment, it called for the creation of a £2.5 million ‘net zero scaling-up fund’ to help SME invest in facilities, skills and equipment needed to grow in the renewable energy sector, as well as a £10m targeted scheme for SMES in the offshore wind industry specifically.
The creation of a nationwide Just Transition Tuition Fund would also support individuals seeking to upskill or enter work in renewables, it said.
“Scotland’s early mover advantage as a global leader in renewable energy is increasingly under threat from international competition for the supply chains, financing and skilled workers needed to build a net-zero economy,” said chief executive Claire Mack.
“To build on the progress we have made so far in taking advantage of our world class clean power potential it is vital that the Scottish Government takes decisive action now to encourage long-term investor confidence and sustainable growth in Scotland’s renewable energy industry.
“To fully unlock the cleaner, cheaper and greener future we all aspire to, the Scottish Government’s budget must include clear ambitions for renewable energy and place infrastructure, investment and innovation at the heart of its plans.”