SCOTLAND could become a world leader in developing new technologies to store excess electricity production from wind farms, creating thousands of jobs, a leading business organisation has declared.

Scottish Chambers of Commerce cited estimates 5,500 jobs could be created across 30 locations north of the Border, some of them rural, on the back of a £1.5 billion total investment in this field, if the full potential of the opportunity were realised.

However, it acknowledged strong competition in this arena from the likes of California, which faces similar challenges in developing battery technologies to store excess electricity from solar power generation.

Garry Clark, head of Scottish Chambers’ economic development intelligence unit, said: “It is an area that other countries are looking at very strongly. We have got all this renewable energy capacity in there. It is often not producing energy at the right time. California has the same problem [with] solar.”

Noting successful excess electricity storage technology could also be exported, Mr Clark added: “It is an area where we have the potential not to get left behind, so let’s seize it with both hands. It could be something that is capable of generating multiple investments around the country, particularly in rural areas as well. To us, it seems something well worth exploring.”

Scottish Chambers of Commerce hammered home the importance of building a major presence in electricity storage technology as East Lothian-based Sunamp, one company which is trying to pursue opportunities in this field, announced a multi-million-pound fundraising.

Liz Cameron, chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: “Scotland already has a significant installed capacity of wind energy infrastructure, but the future of this industry will be dictated by the development of new technologies to store excess electricity production for use at times of peak demand. Scotland has the potential to become a world leader in this area, with the right investment, helping to increase the efficiency and lower the costs of renewable energy as well as rooting skills and talent in Scotland.”

Scottish Chambers of Commerce, setting out its views ahead of the Holyrood elections next week, also emphasised its belief that Scotland and the UK as a whole must develop their energy plans on a 50-year view to enable long-term investment.

Ms Cameron said: “That level of forward planning is essential if businesses are to have the confidence to make investment decisions, and would put an end to recent uncertainty in the sector due to fundamental changes in policy such as the UK Government’s decision to shift the goalposts on renewable energy policy following the 2015 General Election.”

She added: “Energy is what enables every part of our economy to flourish and the various components of the sector are huge economic contributors in their own right. From a strategic point of view, it is vital that Scotland, and indeed the United Kingdom, develops a coherent energy plan for the future over a 50-year period.”

While energy policy is reserved to Westminster, Scottish Chambers noted Holyrood’s responsibilities in terms of renewable energy, planning policy and some business taxes.

Meanwhile, Mr Clark said that nuclear power should be considered among the mix of future energy sources in Scotland, noting the closures in recent times of major coal-fired generation capacity at Longannet in Fife and Cockenzie in East Lothian.

Sunamp, which has developed batteries that store renewable energy as heat for future use, revealed yesterday that it had raised a further £3.2 million development funding from investors as it eyes growth in international markets.

“The global thermal energy storage market is expected to reach $1.8 billion by 2020 and we are excited about the potential of our product to solve a worldwide problem,” said chief executive Andrew Bissell, one of Scotland’s most successful technology entrepreneurs.

“We are now ready for the next phase of expansion, and have our sights set on the North American markets, Europe and Asia-Pacific.”

The Sunamp batteries can deliver heat and hot water on demand.

An international private investor in the energy market who was not named by Sunamp provided funding in the latest round. Existing investors, including the Scottish Investment Bank, Par Equity, Equity Gap, Highland Venture Capital and Old College Capital, provided further backing.

Mr Bissell sold his previous company, 3D medical imaging business Voxar, for £23m to Belgium’s Barco in 2004.