Taking the heat out of the emissions argument

We must develop a low-carbon society argues Euan Murray

Picture: Getty
Picture: Getty

Climate change is a global challenge and the Scottish Government has set a target reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 42 per cent by 2020.

Last week, the Scottish Government also announced that it would be increasing its efforts to tackle climate change with new measures across the transport, environment and energy sectors.

Sign up to our Opinion newsletter

One of the core mechanisms in reducing emissions is the move towards a low carbon economy and the Scottish Government also published its heat policy statement last week, which reiterates its commitment to its target of largely decarbonising heat by 2050. According to the Scottish Government, heat currently accounts for roughly half of Scotland’s emissions and more than 55 per cent of energy demand.

Alongside the challenges of climate change, decarbonisation and the drive to reduce emissions, the public sector more widely is still facing significant budgetary challenges in terms of generating savings across the board. Is it possible that the transition to a low carbon model could present opportunities to the public sector that might assist in generating long term savings?

I consider that the answer may be yes, and this article looks at one of the tools available to both the public and third sectors in taking forward low carbon initiatives which have the potential to generate those savings; the Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme (LCITP).

The LCITP is a Scottish Government initiative which is intended to provide support mechanisms to assist developing innovative low-carbon projects. It is a partnership between the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Scottish Futures Trust and others.

In terms of the type of project or initiative the LCITP is intended to support, the Scottish Government has set up an LCITP portal on its website which suggests that support for projects in the following areas is likely to be considered:

• Low carbon and/or renewable electricity and heat generation

• Local energy economies

• Heat recovery

• Energy storage and distributed energy systems

• Hydrogen

• Demand side management and active network management

• Innovative / local finance solutions and investor readiness for low carbon projects

• Energy efficiency

• Resource efficiency

• Materials re-cycling and re-use

• Community involvement and/or potential for community investment

It is clear that eligible projects are likely to have to demonstrate the delivery of reduced carbon emissions and/or a reduction in energy consumption to be considered.

The portal also clearly sets out the type of project which will not be considered (including research and development of technology, marine / offshore wind energy, sustainable transport, domestic energy efficiency, capital investment into commercial renewable development except where it has a community focus and established technologies).

The LCITP is open to a wide range of organisations including local authorities, public sector organisations, third sector organisations, registered social landlords and academic institutions.

The Scottish Government has also made it clear that applications for LCITP support can be made at any of the three main envisaged stages of a project: the catalyst stage which involves initial development and feasibility work; the development stage covering elements such as the final business case and investment options and propositions; and finally the demonstrator stage where support is available to demonstrate commercial viability.

The LCITP could also be a useful tool for any public or third sector entity that is looking to take forward an innovative low carbon initiative directed at achieving savings and exploring whether to make an initial spend now could generate long-term savings.

Full details of the LCITP programme along with details of how to apply are available on the Scottish Government’s website here: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Business-Industry/Energy/Action/lowcarbon/LCITP

A copy of the Scottish Government’s heat policy statement is also available on the Scottish Government’s website here: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2015/06/6679

Euan Murray is a solicitor with Shepherd & Wedderburn www.shepwedd.co.uk