To take on net zero and rising bills we must deliver a secure energy supply which works for consumers
Recent progress in Scotland shows what can be achieved with investment in renewable energy sources that are affordable for customers.
Across the country, energy prices are continuing to rise, and inflation is at a rate not seen since the 1970s. Worryingly, these issues are unlikely to abate anytime soon, outlining the urgency in which we need to act to protect consumers and deliver a secure supply of energy.
We know the challenge to decarbonise has to be one which brings customers along on the journey. Governments can't just impose solutions and expect customers to step up, not least during a cost-of-living crisis. Governments across the UK and at the local authority level need to enable solutions that work with customers and the challenges they face in managing their household budgets.
While some may think now is the time to re-think our net zero commitments, now is in fact the time we need to be doubling down on them. Net zero and energy security go hand in hand with one another and green technologies can play a leading role in reducing our dependence on global energy markets.
In Scotland, we are blessed with rich renewable energy resources and thanks to decisive action taken by the Scottish Government, we are on track to achieving net zero by 2045, five years ahead of the UK target. In offshore wind for example, 17 new projects have recently been announced as part of the ScotWind auction, which has a combined potential capacity to generate up to 25GW of energy.
For perspective, Scotland’s biggest existing offshore wind farm – Moray East, in the Outer Moray Firth, is Scotland’s single largest source of renewable energy, and has a capacity of 0.95GW (950 megawatts). This is enough to power about 650,000 homes. Taken together, these new offshore wind projects approved through ScotWind, could power more than 20 times that.
With all of this renewable potential in Scotland, there is a fantastic opportunity to utilise our resources to generate green hydrogen, which can be used to decarbonise a number of sectors. Renewable energy powers the creation of green hydrogen, which is made through the process of electrolysis, by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen.
One of the main attractions of green hydrogen is its ability to be stored and used as and when required. This is a critical factor in delivering a secure supply of energy across the country as the storage of green hydrogen can help manage the variability of renewable energy. For example, when the wind doesn’t blow, we can rely on the stored green hydrogen to fuel our economy, that was produced when the wind was blowing.
The next decade is a crucial juncture in our journey to net zero
Scotland is already a global leader in renewable energy and very soon, for the first time anywhere in the world, green hydrogen will be used to heat the homes of customers in Fife. SGN, Scotland’s gas distribution network, is delivering H100 Fife, which beginning next year, will supply up to 300 customers with 100% green hydrogen for heating, offering a vision of how we heat our homes in the future. When it comes to the tackling the climate emergency, Scotland is setting a blueprint for the rest of the world to follow.
While we can be proud of the action taken in Scotland to deal with climate change, the next decade is a crucial juncture in our journey to net zero where we must deliver an affordable and secure supply of energy for customers across the UK. While the UK Government has committed to increase the hydrogen production target to 10GW, with half being green hydrogen, we need to kick-start activity in our supply chains and turbo charge the hydrogen economy. To begin with, we need to stimulate demand in the technology by accelerating moves to secure a safe increase in the legal limit of hydrogen in the gas grid to enable blending as soon as possible. We also need a clear policy framework from Westminster that will enable us to capitalise on our renewable resources in Scotland to create a thriving green hydrogen market.
There is no silver bullet to dealing with the energy crisis that is engulfing the country at present. However, we can and should capitalise on the opportunities presented to us via our rich renewable resources to create a secure supply of energy and help us get to net zero as quickly as possible.
Get the inside track on what MPs and Peers are talking about. Sign up to The House's morning email for the latest insight and reaction from Parliamentarians, policy-makers and organisations.