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Economy can bounce back with sustainable future instead of fossil fuels

By Scottish Renewables

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By Claire Mack, chief executive, Scottish Renewables

Can renewables help build a brighter economy post-coronavirus?
Can renewables help build a brighter economy post-coronavirus?

The coronavirus pandemic brought many sectors across the country to a standstill – but for the renewable energy industry, the global pandemic didn’t mean hitting the stop button.

Work has continued. It's had to. Energy is at the centre of everything: keeping hospitals running, the water flowing and food on supermarket shelves.

Now there's light at the end of the tunnel, it's time to make renewable energy the cornerstone of society’s fightback.

It would be unthinkable to pursue anything other than a sustainable, resilient, green economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

In the past, economies hit by jarring shocks have used fossil fuel extraction to fund their rebound.

This time, in 2020, renewable energy provides us with a new solution.

While the rest of the world dithered on decarbonisation, Scotland set some of its toughest, most ambitious climate change targets. Now, almost all our electricity consumption is provided by renewable energy sources. That seismic shift in our energy supply has given us the skills the rest of the world needs as it, too, starts its decarbonisation journey.

Scottish Renewables’ research released in June shows every gigawatt of renewable electricity generation deployed in Scotland creates 1500 jobs and adds £133 million of GVA to our economy. For the first time, we can tie deployment to employment.

The world is watching, and these are figures which have caught its attention.

Scotland is already exporting its renewable energy expertise, but while international markets beckon, there's vast opportunity at home too.

Our oil and gas sector is struggling, not only because of the coronavirus pandemic but also because of another all-too-common price war between foreign fossil fuel superpowers.

The downturn in this industry means many skilled workers are searching for new, sustainable careers, and the renewables sector can provide those, whilst utilising the knowledge and expertise of these workers as we further develop our industry.

We're calling on the Scottish Government to deliver a renewables transition training fund to provide new futures for workers in these industries which scientists tell us are not compatible with net zero.

Half of the energy we use is in the form of heat. Decarbonising it is essential if we are to meet that net-zero goal by 2045. We need the people who have the skills to get us there, and quickly. It's time to accelerate the deployment of existing heat technologies which can rapidly remove the carbon from the systems which keep us warm.

With the decarbonisation of our electricity system well under way, these new horizons in export, skills and heat form the basis of a truly remarkable, sustainable recovery from coronavirus which will protect the health and wellbeing of people in Scotland while ensuring our economic prosperity and resilience in the face of future, similar shocks. No other industry but renewables can do this.

Industry is calling on governments in Edinburgh and London to give us the tools we need to deliver that green economic recovery, starting now.

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