The public sector should put its money where the Scottish Government's mouth has been on the subject of green energy, an expert claims.

According to Jenny Hogan, Director of Policy at industry body Scottish Renewables, public bodies have the potential to lead the next stage of the country's green energy journey.

Local authorities, NHS Boards, National Park Authorities, enterprise agencies, emergency services and other public organisations could all play a key role in Scotland meeting its future climate change targets – including switching to using more renewable power, heat and transport.

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Launching a set of priority recommendations as the Scottish Government drafts its new Energy Strategy, she said: “While significant progress has been made already, there’s a real opportunity here to make further significant changes to the way Scotland generates and uses energy.

“Public bodies can use their planning, procurement and economic development powers to lead Scotland’s transition to a truly low-carbon, sustainable energy system.

“Greening Scotland’s infrastructure and public estates can offer huge benefits in stabilising energy bills, creating jobs, investing in the local economy and cleaning up the environment."

She said Scotland’s previous climate change targets had provided a hugely powerful focus for government and industry and helped create the green energy industry we have today.

“A new target, for at least 50% of Scotland’s energy needs to come from renewable sources in 2030, would enable us to continue to build on the economic and environmental benefits our industry is already delivering.

“While renewables are now Scotland’s leading source of electricity, we have only just begun to address the need to reduce the carbon emissions from our heat and transport sectors, " she said.

Case study North Ayrshire Council:

A £3 million biomass heat programme replaced fossil fuel boilers at 12 sites. The project will pay back its costs in just eight years.

Solar PV arrays from 20–250kW have been installed at 20 schools and one council building and include bespoke monitoring systems to allow school children to see the impact of renewable energy first-hand.

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The authority has also launched a car share scheme and a fleet of electric cars to encourage low-carbon behaviour among staff.

North Ayrshire Council won the Sustainable Scotland Award at the 2016 Scottish Green Energy Awards last week (Dec 1).