offshore windfarm

Scotland best placed to take advantage of UK’s green transition, report finds

Scotland is likely one of the UK areas most likely to benefit from the net-zero transition, due to its natural location and geographic advantages, a report has claimed.

In the document entitled 'The Cluster Effect', the Green Alliance think-tank calls on the UK government to bolster its decarbonisation efforts in the wake of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in the US and the Net Zero Industry Act in the EU.

It finds that due to its proximity to offshore wind and carbon capture and storage (CCS) sites in the North Sea, as well as pre-existing strengths in the sector, Scotland is likely to benefit strongly from the transition. East and North East Scotland are best placed to house renewable energy-generation clusters, while the Glasgow city region is well placed for a green services cluster, it said.

The report singled out certain facilities as promising templates for future industry expansion, such as the Aberdeen Offshore Wind farm, which received £9.3m in innovation funding from the UK government in 2022.

“[Scotland] is also known for its strong research universities, life sciences and technology sectors. More broadly, Glasgow City Region’s relatively central location in Scotland and good transport links allow it to export services associated with goods from other regions, such as agricultural products and renewable energy,” the report states.

The report also found that Eastern England has a “comparative advantage” in professional, scientific and technical services, due to its access to offshore wind sites in the North Sea and high-grade agricultural land. As well as clusters of renewable energy generation, the area is well-equipped to adopt agri-tech industries and alternative protein production, it said.

Meanwhile, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly are expected to benefit due to their own geographic advantages, including being close to floating offshore wind sites in the Celtic Sea, and having reserves of critical raw materials and potential sites for geothermal energy.

“The UK has the underlying characteristics of success, but now needs to demonstrate political will through industrial policy,” the report said.

“There is no guaranteed recipe for success. Good characteristics and policies increase the likelihood, but - as this is innovation - government and local leaders must recognise the risks as not all efforts will succeed.”

Another report in January found that the green transition is worth £71bn to the UK economy and has brought investment and job opportunities to areas experiencing industrial decline.

However, the CBI has previously warned that the UK’s position as a leader in green technology is at risk due to increased competition from other countries.

Steve Coulter, head of economy at Green Alliance, said: “Keir Starmer has rightly judged that investing in the clean, green economy will be a vote-winner in 2024 – it already has huge public support.

“But the economic case is also compelling. Our analysis of the extent of Scotland’s potential in renewable energy shows how targeted industrial strategy could unlock the UK’s regional economic strengths.

“Embracing this means the UK could reclaim its place at the forefront of the global race for green industries and jobs, which has dramatically shifted pace following huge US and European investment plans.”

Earlier today, speaking at a tidal energy centre in Leith, Scotland, Sir Keir Starmer announced the Labour Party's pledge to turn the UK into a clean energy superpower by 2030 and “cut bills, create jobs and provide energy security” by removing planning barriers standing in the way of green initiatives. Scotland is intended to play a key part in Labour's 'Green Prosperity Plan'.

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