Scotland grants £10m for low-carbon rural projects
The Scottish Government has today (22 March) announced a £10m fund to support innovative low-carbon energy projects in rural parts of Scotland.
Up to £100,000 will be allocated for each scheme that shows the potential to increase energy efficiency, reduce carbon emissions and boost local economies. The funding, made available through the Low-Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme (LCITP), will target rural and remote areas in order to help bridge gaps in capacity, skills and resources.
Scottish Business, Innovation and Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “The low-carbon and renewable energy sector has been a major driver of Scotland’s economy in recent years, supporting 43,500 jobs. Many of these are in rural areas, where we have developed expertise in solar, wave, offshore wind and tidal, as well as more established technologies such as hydro and onshore wind.
“We can be proud of our innovative culture and this fund will help continue to build the right environment to develop more new ideas, supporting rural communities across Scotland with investment and the creation of further high-value jobs.”
The funding was first revealed in the recently published draft Energy Strategy, which set out the Scottish Government’s 2050 vision to have a “modern, integrated” energy system based on low-carbon sources. The Strategy included a new target to deliver 50% of Scotland’s energy needs from renewable sources by 2030, hailed at the time as a "landmark moment" in the country's low-carbon transition.
Commenting on today’s news, Scottish Renewables policy manager Stephanie Clark said: "The announcement of a £10m fund to support the development of business plans for new, innovative energy systems is to be welcomed, but industry and government must work hard to ensure that these plans become reality.
"Renewable energy technologies like wind, heat pumps, solar and hydro already offer rural communities huge benefits, not least the chance to cut fuel bills and reduce their carbon emissions. Less well-known systems like deep geothermal and energy storage have enormous potential, but a lack of deployment means awareness remains low and cost reductions are more challenging to achieve.”
Leading the nation
The announcement underpins the Scottish Government’s Climate Change Plan released in January, which contained new proposals to achieve a 66% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2032, after the country surpassed its 2020 targets six years early.
Scotland has often been viewed as a “prime candidate” to accelerate the UK integration of renewable energy, largely due to its rich heritage in hydropower. Indeed, Scotland’s hydropower sector has thrived in recent years, with the Scottish Affairs Committee recently revealing that the UK is sourcing 85% of hydro capacity from the country.
However, fears remain that future investment into renewables could be stunted in the country, after reports revealed that small Scottish renewable energy schemes could be faced with new business rates of up to 650% from April 2017.