Can Scottish green growth lead the world?

16 Feb 12 - Martin McAdam, Chief Executive Officer

Earlier today I spoke at a debate hosted by the Carbon Trust and The Times newspaper on the topic "Can Scottish green growth lead the world?"

The simple answer, from my perspective, was "yes we can".

In many respects Scotland already punches well above its weight. Although our population is just nine per cent of the whole of the UK, Scotland has over 45 per cent of its renewable energy installations.

In total the UK has just over 10,000MW of renewable capacity installed. Of this, 4,600MW is in Scotland. Whatever the future holds, the UK will be dependent on green energy from Scotland to meet its low carbon energy goals.

In the context of a market like China, which now has 67GW of installed renewable energy, what is happening in Scotland may seem small.  Clearly our country cannot lead the world in installations, but it can and should lead the world in innovation, technology development, and eventually in the export of new technologies such as wave and tidal.

We are already on track. Scotland has a global lead in these technologies, whilst the significant inward investment in Scottish enterprises from global conglomerates such as Mitsubishi, Gamesa and most recently Samsung Heavy Industries are testament to other people's confidence in our ability to deliver offshore wind.

This confidence, I believe, is based on a growing green 'eco system' that is providing the foundations for massive success. Scotland has some great natural advantages in:

• resource, with the best wind, wave and tidal resource in Europe;
• technology, with some of the leading firms in the wave, tidal and offshore wind arena; and
• skills - with Aberdeen a genuine global hub of offshore expertise.

But these natural advantages are not enough. To capitalise fully on the renewable opportunity requires vision, stable regulatory policies and the means to fund the vision.

The Scottish Government has shown leadership through the vision of the First Minister and a 2020 goal to meet 100 per cent of Scotland's total electricity demand through renewable energy generation.

The policies that will enable the vision are in place too, together with the early stage incentives and funding that all new industries require.

We have the vision, and we have the policies, but they cannot deliver new industries alone.

The final piece of the jigsaw is financial. We need private sector investment, and on a large scale, to buy into this positive vision and make Scotland not the biggest, but the best, most innovative export-led green economy in the world.

Click here for my full statement from this morning's debate 'Can Scottish green growth lead the world?


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