Podcast: How Scotland can become a renewable energy superpower

Scotland can become a major exporter of renewable power as part of its transition away from oil and gas, according to the UK head of Europe’s largest generator of green energy.

Statkraft UK’s Head of Business & Project Development Richard Mardon said the UK has already reached the ‘tipping point’ in its need to move away from fossil fuels.

Speaking on The Scotsman’s Sustainable Scotland podcast about the industry’s future he hailed Scotland’s skilled workforce, along with supportive government policies, as key to unlocking its potential as a global leader for renewables.

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But he cautioned there is still work and improvement in enabling projects if Scotland is to keep pace with looming demand in heating for homes, energy for businesses and transforming travel.

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In particular he cited significant issues around the amount of time projects take to go through the current planning system as the countdown to achieving carbon net zero by 2045 continues.

And he said there was grounds to establish a “task force” to look at bridging the gap between ambition and delivery much in the same way governments tackled the global pandemic.

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Talking with host Shaun Milne, Mr Mardon said: “If we can apply some of that amazing willpower and resources and academic brains and government policy to how we got the vaccines sorted out and managed to vaccinate everybody and then say right, climate change …

“Scotland can be at the heart of that, absolutely, and can be an exporter of renewable energy.”

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“We need to work on the infrastructure so that is able to happen, so there’s some income coming into Scotland through building the projects and selling the electricity, and we need to get these projects probably through planning a little bit quicker.

“It can take us three years to get a planning decision, it’s taken 18-months to get a vaccination.”

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He also said he hoped victors at next week’s Holyrood election would look at both those issues and around grid connection charges, as part of their programme for government and to help renewables fulfil ambition.

“We have to be bold,” he said.

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