Scotland’s green energy revolution is underway and presents an era defining economic opportunity for our country and our people. 

We know that tackling climate change is an environmental imperative as well as our moral obligation. But with the right approach it can also present perhaps the greatest socioeconomic opportunity of our time. 

This past week has provided a clear snapshot of how Scotland is right now - transforming to become a renewable energy powerhouse. 

On Monday the First Minister was in the Highlands to welcome a £100 million investment by the Scottish National Investment Bank and the UK Infrastructure Bank in the Ardersier Port development. The Port is one of the largest regeneration projects in the Highlands for decades and will support fixed and floating offshore wind installations, enabling an estimated 3,000 jobs and providing retraining opportunities.

The following day I was pleased to attend the groundbreaking in Nigg for Sumitomo’s new high voltage cable manufacturing plant - the only one of its kind in the UK and the Japanese company’s first such plant in Europe – which will create around 330 jobs.

Thanks to our multi-agency approach to building relationships with Sumitomo we were able to provide £24.5 million of public sector funds to attract this £350 million foreign investment, demonstrating the importance of international partnerships and public and private sector cooperation in achieving our economic ambitions.

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Like Ardersier Port, the Nigg site is part of the new Inverness and Cromarty Firth Green Freeport, which is already proving attractive to investors and underlining that Scotland is open for business with unique selling points.

Hydrogen has the potential to play a significant role in our in future energy mix too, particularly for industry, and this week brought further progress in that field. Energy company RWE announced plans for hydrogen production within the Grangemouth industrial cluster in collaboration with INEOS and the Scottish Government is committed to supporting these ambitious plans to secure a long-term future for the complex.

More widely, green hydrogen created with renewable electricity offers a significant export opportunity for Scotland, with growing markets in the rest of the UK and Europe. The Scottish Government’s Hydrogen Action Plan sets out an ambition for at least 5GW of installed renewable and low-carbon hydrogen production capacity by 2030 and 25GW by 2045. We will shortly be publishing an export plan for hydrogen detailing how this opportunity will be realised.

Our government is determined to create the right conditions for investment that benefits of people and planet. This year we will also produce our Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan, outlining actions to safeguard Scotland’s energy security and further maximise the benefits of a just transition to net zero. In addition there will be a specific just transition plan for Grangemouth.

And our Green Industrial Strategy will prioritise the areas with the most significant economic opportunities for Scotland and provide, with precision and clarity, the opportunity of entering the Scottish market at this incredibly important time. 

According to ONS estimates, in 2022 Scotland’s net zero economy generated £13 billion in turnover and supported nearly 26,000 full-time equivalent jobs across Scotland. Analysis shows that with the right support the number of low carbon energy production jobs is estimated to rise from 19,000 in 2019 to 77,000 by 2050 as the result of a just energy transition.

We have much work to do and collaboration is essential to achieve our goals.  But this week has shown we are building momentum and emphasised once again that reducing emissions and economic growth go hand-in hand.

Scotland’s future is a prosperous one as a clean, green renewable energy powerhouse. 

Màiri McAllan is Scotland's Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero and Energy