Scotland has potential to lead the world in smart integrated energy systems

Thinking Cities
By Thinking Cities September 22, 2015 10:55

Scotland has potential to lead the world in smart integrated energy systems

Vision, innovation and investment into a new, better integrated energy system will help Scotland meet carbon targets, create jobs and secure an international leadership position says a new report from the Carbon Trust. The report outlines a vision for Scotland to harness its abundant natural resources and world class technology innovation capabilities to develop a dynamic, smart, energy efficient energy system.

According to the Carbon Trust there is now a great opportunity for Scotland to create a new joined up energy strategy to help realise this vision. This would result in Scotland developing a smart energy system grounded by the principle of integrating the energy vectors of power, heat and transportation. This has the potential to not only deliver energy security and jobs at home but provide exportable expertise for international energy markets.

Scotland has a number of distinctive characteristics that present both challenges and opportunities in the move to a low carbon energy system:

  • Significant natural resources;
  • Very strong academic and industrial capabilities;
  • Relatively high levels of heat demand and fuel poverty;
  • Limited interconnection; and
  • High urban population density

Whilst Scotland is well on its way to meeting its electricity demand target, progress on heat and transport needs to accelerate significantly over the next five years in order to deliver on existing targets. This challenge is compounded further as heat and transport accounts for over 70 per cent of total energy consumption in Scotland. The country needs to build on its success so far and evolve its energy strategy to take a holistic approach to energy infrastructure planning to bring offshore renewable generation technologies, bio-energy, district heating, energy storage, energy management and consumer engagement solutions together under one flexible and dynamic energy system.

Scotland has the highest heating demand per household in the UK and highest levels of fuel poverty, despite having the highest offshore renewable energy resource in Europe. By ensuring the energy system is flexible the Carbon Trust believes renewable energy supply can exceed electricity demand with surplus energy exported, or stored across energy vectors of heat and transport or through the use of hydrogen as an energy carrier.

Andrew Lever, Director of Innovation, The Carbon Trust commented:

“Scotland has come a long way in the journey towards meetings its ambitious carbon reduction targets and we believe Scotland has now reached an important juncture in this journey. By pulling all the strands of the energy strategy together the nation has a significant opportunity to optimise the use of Scotland’s abundant renewable energy resources and exploit its distinctive characteristics to not only meet the nation’s climate change targets, but generate significant economic value for Scotland in the long term.

“To realise this vision Scotland needs a new integrated smart energy system. This is good news for Scotland. We believe it has the skills and capacity required to address many of the innovation challenges that exist and the political will to unleash the nation’s potential to deliver Scotland’s future integrated low carbon energy system.”

Key to unlocking Scotland’s integrated energy future is targeted innovation and in particular the Carbon Trust recommends:

  • Further targeted innovation to drive down cost and develop the supply chain to realise Scotland’s renewable potential in offshore wind, wave, tidal and bio-energy.
  • Innovation in energy storage, which is critical to facilitating further investment in wind and will be a key enabler in local decentralised energy systems.
  • Further innovation in technology, business models and installation techniques to facilitate the uptake of district heating, with a focus on integrating renewable energy and thermal storage.
  • Innovation in energy management software solutions for buildings, home and the transport sector, which will be critical to a dynamic, smart and efficient energy system.
  • More innovative solutions to engage end consumers to make their energy usage and costs more tangible. The opportunity to innovate on the back of smart meter roll-out is critical.

The report lays out a new approach to energy infrastructure and presents a range of recommendations including the need for planning to consider the opportunity for local power, heat and transport demand and generation solutions, and new policy and market mechanisms to properly reward the benefits and efficiencies of decentralised and smart solutions compared to today’s energy system.

Investment in innovation to develop, test and demonstrate the new technology solutions to support their commercialisation and full-scale roll-out will also be critical. An appraisal of the supply chain benefits nationally and export opportunities internationally would further reinforce the economic value generated.

To read the paper in full please visit http://www.carbontrust.com/media/671532/scotland-innovation-potential.pdf.

Thinking Cities
By Thinking Cities September 22, 2015 10:55