Up to 12,000 jobs are expected to be created by 2020 and the strategy identifies a number of key areas of action including encouraging innovation, maximisation of the impact of pilot and demonstrator projects in Scotland, increasing awareness of energy management, development of a supply chain to seize economic opportunities for Scotland and improving dialogue and engagement across the sector and with related sectors.
Smart Grids are digitally enabled grids that can accommodate changing patterns of demand and generation of electricity. They are intended primarily to facilitate the integration of renewable energy and allow the network to be balanced more easily and efficiently. This brings considerable benefits to the consumer, such as more reliability, sustainability and cost-efficient electricity. The 2020 market for UK customer energy management has so far been estimated at £1.5 billion with an indicative value for the 2020 UK network automation and optimisation market of £1 billion.
Numerous world-class Smart Grid research establishments already exist in Scotland, such as the Power Networks Demonstration Centre in Cumbernauld, the Electrical Power System Protection Laboratory of the University of Strathclyde and the Hydrogen Office in Fife. Others are currently in development, including the Clyde Gateway which is part of the Sustainable Glasgow initiative.
Scotland is aiming to achieve transition to a low-carbon economy with 100% of its electricity generation coming from renewables by 2020. Key to this aim is the integration of different forms of energy which is why Smart Grids are so important. The Smart Grid Strategy therefore sets out the challenges Scotland already faces, the actions required to achieve transition and the business opportunities that will emerge as a result. The overall aim is to make Smart Grids a thriving sector thereby generating jobs and driving the new economy.
The strategy was launched by First Minister Alex Salmond at the All Energy Conference in Aberdeen on 23 May.