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by Sofia Villegas
13 October 2023
Scotland could lead 'transformational' plan to re-wire the UK

UK is looking o double its electricity production by late 2030

Scotland could lead 'transformational' plan to re-wire the UK

A report from Our Scottish Future (OSF) revealed Scotland could be at the “forefront” of Labour’s recent multi-billion promise to re-wire the UK.

The paper argues the world-leading energy infrastructure hosted north of the border makes Scotland suitable to lead the project.

Report author Pete Wood said: “Net Zero is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rewire the UK.”

“Sweeping energy reforms are being sketched out by the political parties. Our practical suggestions suggest how to achieve those goals by building upon Scotland’s world-leading strengths, running investment north to rebalance the country.”

“In Holyrood, the government must not miss this chance to regenerate communities and rebuild job prospects in some of our most deprived areas. Together we can steer a path to Net Zero that leaves our communities stronger than they were before.”

During Labour’s party conference last week, party leader Keir Starmer placed a green industrial strategy at the heart of its bid to win next year’s general election. He also outlined plans to create GB Energy – a publicly owned energy company he hopes will increase competitiveness in the sector.

Adding to the announcement, Labour’s shadow chancellor and energy secretary Edward Miliband, revealed the party is ready to unlock £200m of private investment to fund the new clean grid rollout - which he claimed would create more than 200,000 jobs - and remove barriers to "facilitate" the development.

It is claimed the UK needs new cabling to double its electricity production by late 2030, cut energy costs and meet the increasing demand for electrified heating and transportation.

Recommendations put forward by the report included making Glasgow home to the Future System Operator – a body which works toward a safe and affordable transition to net zero – and the Highland and Islands host to a Scottish consortium to identify skill gaps in rural areas.

Other proposals were making Dundee the focus of a digital programme to accelerate infrastructure development and Aberdeen the hub for the Marine Environmental Assessment, supporting the sector’s transition into offshore renewables.

The report also asked the Scottish and UK governments to help firms across Ayrshire and Fife continue growing as they hold expertise in developing the high voltage (HV) cables the network requires. Earlier this year North Ayrshire council approved the UK’s first ever HV direct current subsea cable factory.

The infrastructure – which allows for the transportation of renewable energy worldwide- is expected to have a six-fold surge in international demand over the next seven years.

Another suggestion by the document was to provide further investment in strengthening manufacturing skills to avoid repeating the recent offshore wind infrastructure failure - which saw consumers pay up to  £62m per day, according to UK Government statistics, to turn off wind farms as the grid could not deal with the power these generated.

OSF director Eddie Barnes also argued doing so would prevent spending money elsewhere.

“As we turn to the equally huge task of rewiring the country, we argue that this time, we develop the skills and the supply chain to create new jobs in Scotland," he said.

The proposal also comes after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak revealed plans to enlarge the national grid by accelerating the development of solar and wind farms as well as battery storage sites.

“The next UK Government will undertake an immense task, essentially to rewire Britain. This paper calls for Scotland to be at the heart of this massive UK project,” Barned concluded.

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