Scotland In 2050: Clean Energy – Realising Our Potential, Domestically And Internationally

Author:Ms Clare Foster
Profession:Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP

Scotland has established itself as a global market leader in the clean energy sector.

Many of the advancements in offshore wind, floating wind and tidal energy markets - from concept to commercial viability - were made in this country, and Scotland is now the envy of the world, given its knowledge base, its academic prowess and the abundance of opportunities to harness the elements, both on land and around our shores.

We have, over the years, achieved a number of notable successes in taking industry and academic concepts through to commercialisation, and the sector has demonstrated its resilience in adapting and innovating to change, at times in the face of adversity.

What has also emerged over these formative years is the sheer grit and determination of the sector and the will to make Scotland a global player in the development of the energy sources of the future.

For investors, Scotland was seen as an attractive location to back renewable energy projects and developments, backed by a fiscal regime designed not only to encourage inward investment but also to provide long-term security on those investments.

As a result, the development pipeline expanded rapidly, resulting in a boom in renewable energy projects across Scotland. We are rightly proud of our position at the cutting edge of the sector, in the development and deployment of new energy technologies, and we have as a country demonstrated that clean energy is the only logical way forward in powering our growing populations and increasingly tech-driven urban expansion.

However, in recent times the renewable energy sector has faced a number of challenges. The UK Government's drive to reduce renewable energy subsidies has had a significant negative impact, and the recent statistics are alarming: in January 2018, it was announced investment in 'clean energy' had fallen by 56% in 2017, driven essentially by government policy changes for the sector.

The fact that investors are reacting this way is not a great surprise, though continued investment is vital if Scotland is to have any hope of meeting the ambitious short, medium and long-term carbon reduction targets set out by Scottish Government, and in the new, more ambitious targets now being considered by the UK Government.

It could be argued the UK Government has created a favourable tax regime in the UK Continental Shelf for the oil and gas industries, and with sufficient will, could deliver a similar regime for the renewable energy...

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