Scotland has some of the most challenging carbon reduction targets in the world. The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 sets targets to reduce Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions by 42 per cent by 2020 and 80 per cent by 2050.
All of us – householders, businesses, government and social enterprises – have a responsibility to reduce energy use and find more sustainable ways to power our homes, our offices, our public buildings and our country.
Today, Solas Scotland, a social enterprise with 25 years’ experience in energy-saving advice, advocacy and technology, will brief MSPs about our ambition to become the UK’s leading energy cost reduction centre within two years, and how we hope to create jobs in the process. We have joined forces with energy consultancy Utility Aid to develop the Solas Utility Initiative, a comprehensive energy-efficiency scheme designed to drive down energy costs in the public, private and third sectors.
We will start with the community sector and charities, encouraging them to save money – and reduce their carbon emissions – by employing some very simple measures. We can help them procure the best energy contract. If they have smart meters installed, our team of advisers can analyse their energy use on a daily basis, and so pinpoint where savings can be made. We can advise them on the best energy-saving products, from solar to high-efficiency lighting.
The beauty of our service is it is at worst cost-neutral for customers, as they can quickly recoup their initial outlay through lower energy bills.
Utility Aid has already saved charities across the UK around £4 million on fuel bills since 2008 through its network of energy-efficiency managers.
In the scheme of things, £1m a year may not sound a lot, but when you consider NHS Scotland spent £64.4m on its fuel bills in 2009-10, you begin to understand the scope for savings. And if we can create jobs and save public money at the same time as reducing carbon emissions, we will be playing a small but significant part in helping Scotland’s economic recovery.
• Graham McLennan is managing director of Solas Scotland.