Media release: As latest statistics show surge in Scottish energy usage, think tank calls for a new agency to ensure that it’s green energy

As latest statistics show surge in Scottish energy usage, think tank calls for a new agency to ensure that it’s green energy  

Scottish ‘think and do’ tank Common Weal says that the Scottish Government’s latest energy statistics [1] highlight the need to establish a Scottish Energy Development Agency (SEDA) that would strategically coordinate the development of renewable energy across Scotland, and ensure a fair and equitable transition to a fossil fuel-free future.

The latest statistics show that Scottish energy consumption in 2017 increased by 3.5% compared to 2016, with the total contribution from renewables falling from 19.8% to 19.1%, and the contribution of renewable heat falling from 5.9% to 5.5%, although the gross consumption of electricity from renewables rose from 73.9% to 76.3%.

Common Weal first proposed the establishment of a SEDA earlier in 2019 in its ‘Powering Our Ambitions’ policy paper [2], and made further recommendations for the SEDA, developing district heating, and decarbonising rural and off gas-grid households in its ‘Just Warmth’ [3] and ‘Carbon-free, Poverty-free’ policy papers [4]. The proposal has since received the backing of SNP members including Ronnie Cowan MP, Stuart McMillan MSP, and Chris Hanlon of the party’s Trade Union Group, and a motion to establish a SEDA, put forward by the Greenock and Inverclyde branch, has made the final agenda for the SNP’s conference in October.

Dr Keith Baker, a researcher in fuel poverty and energy policy at Glasgow Caledonian University and a member of Common Weal’s Energy Working Group, said “The good news is that the rise in demand for heat, along with a decline in the fuel poverty statistic, is one indicator that more people are being able to afford to heat their homes, although there is still a long way to go until all homes will be able to buy cheap energy for heating that doesn’t come from fossil fuels. However, we also have to make sure that the many benefits of making this transition reach the poorest, most vulnerable, and most isolated communities, many of which are in rural and island areas. In order to ensure these communities aren’t left behind the Scottish Government needs to strategically plan the development of renewable energy, and particularly renewable heat, and our proposals for a Scottish Energy Development Agency set out how this should be done in practice. We’re very happy to see the motion has made the agenda for SNP conference and I would urge all members to read what we have to say and give it their support”.

Ronnie Cowan MP said, “The Scottish Government have set some of the boldest targets in the world for addressing the climate emergency.  The recent passing of the landmark legislation committing Scotland to becoming a net-zero society by 2045 – five years before the rest of the UK – is welcomed. With such a radical transformation towards greener, cleaner energy, Scotland will require a comprehensive strategy which eases the transition away from fossil fuels. Therefore, the creation of a Scottish Energy Development Agency (SEDA) is another layer of the foundations we need to establish before we can build a successful, forward looking, prosperous and inclusive independent nation.”

Dr Craig Dalzell, Head of Policy and Research at Common Weal, said, “Scotland is currently suffering a climate emergency and has recently agreed to reduce carbon emissions by 75% by 2030 - just over a decade away. To do this will require a radical transformation of our energy use and energy supply. With energy use rising across all sectors, we must be mindful that efficiency and reduced demand are the most effective ways to reduce carbon emissions. Every unit of energy saved from reduced commuting, more efficient electrical devices and - most importantly - more effectively insulated homes and buildings is a unit of energy that will not need to be supplied by the construction of renewable energy infrastructure. Common Weal will soon be publishing a comprehensive blueprint for a Scottish Green New Deal which will show how we can meet and exceed the targets now agreed to by the Scottish Government. This plan will include the launch of a Scottish Energy Development Agency which will play a key role in co-ordinating the roll out of insulation programs and energy infrastructure development.”        


Dr Keith Baker
T. +44 (0) 7884125540

Ronnie Cowan MP
T. 01475 721877

[1] Scottish Government, 2019. Energy Statistics for Scotland: Q2 2019 Figures. Available at: 
[2] Baker, K.J., Morgan., G., Mould, R., & Wright, I., 2019. Powering Our Ambitions: The role of Scotland’s Publicly Owned Energy Company and the case for a Scottish Energy Development Agency. A Common Weal policy paper. Available at: 
[3] Baker, K.J., & Mould, R., 2019. Just Warmth: Developing equitable and sustainable district heating systems in Scotland. A Common Weal policy paper, 12th May 2019. Available at: 
[4] Baker, K.J., Mould, R., Dalzell, C., McAlpine, R., & Shafi, J., 2019. Carbon-free, Poverty-free: Heating options for rural Scotland. Policy paper for Calor by Common Weal, Glasgow Caledonian University, and the Energy Poverty Research initiative. June 2019. Available at: