The First Minister visited a University of Strathclyde power technology innovation and testing centre as she announced a new energy strategy for Scotland.

Nicola Sturgeon announced plans to accelerate the clean energy transition to reduce Scotland’s dependence on oil and gas ahead of a visit to the University’s Power Networks Demonstration Centre (PNDC) in Cumbernauld on Tuesday 10 January.

The draft Energy Strategy sets out the Scottish Government’s policies on domestic production of energy, alongside a plan to reduce demand and build a resilient and secure future net zero energy system.

The Scottish Government also published its first Just Transition Plan which aims to ensure that, as the energy sector grows and changes, it benefits citizens, workers and communities.

New opportunities

Strathclyde’s Principal & Vice Chancellor, Professor Sir Jim McDonald, co-Chairs the Scottish Energy Advisory Board (SEAB) with the FM; SEAB and its sub-groups are made up from over 100 business leaders from the energy industry alongside academic and public sector agency leaders.

The draft strategy provides a route map of actions, with a particular focus out to 2030, for the Scottish and UK Governments and is central to meeting Scotland’s climate change targets, as well as boosting jobs and improving wellbeing.

Opened in 2013 by Strathclyde, SP Energy Networks and SSE Power Distribution, with support from Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Funding Council, the PNDC supports the development and deployment of innovative electricity network technologies in order to advance energy system decarbonisation and create new opportunities for supply chain companies.

The PNDC is delivering on initiatives such as the Whole Energy Systems Accelerator (WESA) initiative, a collaboration between PNDC and the Energy Systems Catapult (ESC), which aims to understand the behaviour of consumers in their homes and how this behaviour interacts with technology, networks, policy, regulation and commercial models.

The WESA initiative is set to support 36 Scottish SMEs, commercialise 10 new products and create over 420 highly-skilled jobs worth around £21M to the economy.

Resilient energy

Sir Jim said: “As a University heavily engaged in research that is helping to drive the transition to clean, renewable energy, we were pleased to host the First Minister at PNDC for this important policy announcement.

“Thanks to its industry-scale test bed, the PNDC is providing investors with the evidence base they require for the creation of decarbonised and resilient energy infrastructure and systems deployment critical to achieve net zero innovation across the supply chain, creating economic and job growth for Scotland, and delivering on net zero targets. “

Speaking ahead of the visit the First Minister said: “The imperative is clear. In this decade we must set Scotland on the path to an energy system that meets the challenge of becoming a net zero nation by 2045, that supplies safe, secure and affordable energy for all and that generates economic opportunity through a just transition.

“The current energy crisis has demonstrated how vulnerable our energy system is to international price shocks, while laying bare the need for structural reform to ensure affordability for consumers.

“This strategy will shape the next 25 years of energy production in Scotland. It provides an independent assessment of the future of the North Sea and shows that as we reduce Scotland’s dependence on oil and gas – as both generators and consumers – there is a huge environmental and economic opportunity to be seized.

“Scotland is already at the forefront of the clean energy transition and our green jobs revolution is underway. By continuing to make the most of our vast renewable energy resource, we can deliver a net zero energy system that also delivers a net gain in jobs within Scotland’s energy production sector.”

Demonstration facility

Since its opening, PNDC’s facility has grown into a world-class innovation and demonstration facility with around 50 staff and has successfully delivered over 270 innovation projects in collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders, including large industrials, network operators, SMEs, policymakers and academic institutions.

This year marks a decade of innovation for PNDC, and it comes at a time when the organisation, and the landscape it is operating in, is rapidly evolving and expanding.