CALLS have been made for urgent new investment in green energy as a new report reveals that the north of Scotland needs around four times more renewable generation in eight years to put the nation on course for net zero by 2050.

The analysis by SSEN Transmission – the electricity transmission network owner and developer for the north of Scotland and part of the SSE Group, says that the north of Scotland, is expected to lead the way in Scotland's and the UK's march to net zero.

By 2030, the north of Scotland will need 24-31GW of clean, green renewable capacity to put the country on the right trajectory for net zero by 2050. In Scotland the target is 2045.

But at present there is currently around 7GW of renewable generation connected to the network in the north of Scotland, demonstrating what it has called "the urgency for further strategic and timely investment in supporting grid infrastructure".

The north of Scotland is expected to play an "outsized" role in the transition to net zero, contributing roughly 10% of the action required to support the UK’s emissions reduction targets, despite only representing 5% of the population.

The analysis says that peak electricity demand is expected to rise up to 64 to 87% by 2050 as electrification of transport and heat grows to support net zero targets.

It predicts that by 2050, offshore wind will become the dominant source of electricity generation in the north of Scotland in scenarios that support a net zero pathway, ranging between 22GW and 23GW.

It said that the east and north east of Scotland will provide the biggest contribution to low carbon electricity generation, followed closely by the Highlands, "supporting the requirement for greater, and timely, investment in the Transmission network in these regions".


It comes in the wake of a new round of ScotWind offshore wind projects hailed by the First Minister as a “truly historic” opportunity for Scotland’s net zero economy.

Some 17 ScotWind projects, with a combined potential generating capacity of 25GW, have been offered new rights to specific areas of the seabed for the development of offshore wind power.

The ScotWind leasing auction attracted more than 70 bids from major oil companies, utility firms and investment funds from around the world.

Most of the sites are on the east, north east or northern coast, with just one on the western side of Scotland.

Imran Mohammed, senior insights analyst for SSEN Transmission explained: “The north of Scotland will play an outsized role in the transition to net zero, contributing roughly 10% of the action required to support the UK’s emissions reduction targets, despite only representing 5% of the population.

“We’re already a net exporter of clean, green energy and our analysis shows the potential to grow this export over the coming decades, particularly in the north east of Scotland, and Scottish Highlands, as the power system decarbonises, offshore wind capacity grows through ScotWind and new technologies to reduce society’s emissions and store electricity come to the fore. To support this low carbon revolution, it’s clear that greater investment in the north of Scotland transmission network will be required - at scale and pace - to unlock the economic fortuities that this scale of investment can bring.

"“While great progress has been made in decarbonising the electricity system, there’s still much to do, and timescales are tight to support zero carbon pathways. We hope that by publishing this paper we can encourage further urgency and momentum on this common goal as we work with our stakeholders to deliver a Network for Net Zero.”

It comes as a global group of companies working across the power sector joined together to create a new initiative to promote a fair and just transition to net zero.

Led by Scottish-headquartered energy company and COP26 principal partner SSE plc, the 11 founding partners have worked together since COP26 to develop the Powering Net Zero Pact.

The Pact sees the firms – which operate in over 100 countries, collectively employ around 240,000 people and have a combined turnover of more than £55bn – promise to uphold a series of social, environmental and corporate commitments.