Scottish government sets out local energy policy approach

The Scottish government has set out its approach to helping to develop local energy projects as Scotland’s energy system becomes low carbon.

On 6 January, it released its Local Energy Policy Statement, outlining a set of key principles and outcomes that it wants to see adopted as part of a just, inclusive energy transition aligned with a green recovery, post Covid-19. It noted that as the journey to net zero unfolds, the way energy is generated, supplied and used will differ based on local need and opportunity. This, however, cannot be delivered in isolation and will integrate and align with other key policies, with the Policy Statement setting out the Scottish government’s principles that will underpin its approach to create vibrant, local energy economies.

It will aim to build active, energy efficient consumers and pledged to do so by undertaking early engagement with those that will be involved with local energy, both directly and indirectly, as well as recognising and tailoring support to the different ways people will change. Work here will involved a tailored package of support for community-led projects and identifying and supporting disengaged and vulnerable groups.

Recognising that local energy projects should reflect local characteristics and the need for a focus on collaborative strategic approaches and partnership working, the Scottish government is planning to collaborate with its Enterprise Agencies to establish a knowledge sharing portal and provide guidance on local energy plans, with a Scottish Islands Energy Strategy document also set to be published.

Systems designed and developed in line with local need is another desired outcome, with the Scottish government stressing all activity should provide a high level of security and quality of supply to all, emphasising that existing energy infrastructure should be considered first. It further stated that the design and operation of energy networks should consider the whole energy system, while supporting local, regional and national solutions. In the next Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES) contracts, it will include support for community groups to engage with DNOs and other infrastructure providers.

Elsewhere, the Scottish government pledged to prioritise projects that demonstrate a commercially viable and replicable opportunity, as well as prioritising and acting upon “low regret” opportunities that support net zero. It will continue supporting local energy solutions through various funding programmes, while in the next CARES, it will include support to prioritise shred ownership models and promotion of inclusive business models.

It also wants local energy projects to support the creation of high value jobs, including the development of the Scottish supply chain, while also stating that any changes to the energy system should ensure a just transition for Scotland’s workforce. It will work in partnership with Enterprise Agencies to maximise opportunities for developing supply chains, support them in establishing a Scottish Local Energy Systems Industry Form and ensure a role for community led activity in the future local energy landscape.