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Smart Grids To Create Up To 12,000 Jobs In Scotland

25th May 2012

A key industry strategy to capitalise on Scotland's smart grid expertise and create thousands of new jobs in Scotland is published today.

The strategy includes a target to create up to 12,000 new jobs by 2020, by supporting work to secure Scotland's place as an exemplar in smart grid adoption and as a leading international provider of Smart Grid technologies and know-how.

Smart grids are digitally-enabled grids that can accommodate the changing patterns of demand and generation of electricity. They facilitate the integration of renewables, allowing the network to be balanced more easily and efficiently, and bring considerable benefits to the consumer such as more reliable, sustainable and cost-efficient electricity.

First Minister, Alex Salmond launched the Smart Grid Sector Strategy at the All Energy conference in Aberdeen on 23 May 2012.

He said: "Scotland is playing an important role in the emerging global low carbon economy, including pursuing a target to ensure renewable energy generates at least 100% of Scotland's electricity demand by 2020. The development of smart grid technologies and services will be an important part of this green energy drive - and an important opportunity for Scottish businesses and research institutions. The target to create as many as 12,000 jobs in the Smart grid sector is a very ambitious one, which will require continued close working between government, industry and academia. It is also a signal of intent and a measure of the determination, skill and vision which exists across Scotland's leading-edge low carbon industry."

The Strategy identifies six areas for action: encouraging innovation; maximising the impact of pilot and demonstrator projects in Scotland; empowering consumers by increasing awareness of how to manage energy consumption; developing the supply chain in Scotland to seize opportunities; identifying skills requirements; and improving dialogue and engagement across the sector and with related sectors.

The 2020 UK market for customer energy management products and services has been estimated at 1.5 billion. An indicative value for the 2020 UK network automation and optimisation market is 1 billion. Scotland is well-positioned to capture a significant share of these market segments.

Scotland already has world-class research in smart grids and related technologies, and a strong reputation for skills in engineering, communications and information technology. Scotland's test and demonstration facilities are second to none, for example the Power Networks Demonstration Centre in Cumbernauld, which offers researchers and companies the opportunity to test innovative distribution network technologies in a realistic test environment; the Hydrogen Office in Fife, a demonstration centre for energy storage using hydrogen fuel cells; and the Electrical Power System Protection Laboratory, part of the University of Strathclyde, which allows testing and modelling of protection systems for power systems and testing of intelligent network management and control methods for future smart grid and microgrid applications.

Scottish Enterprise chief executive, Lena Wilson, said: "Today marks a significant milestone in our journey towards a low carbon economy. Progress has already been achieved in the development of smart grid solutions, through initiatives such as the Power Network Demonstration Centre, and this new strategy provides a clear focus for the public and private sectors to work together and maximise the opportunities in our efforts to become world leaders in smart grids.

"We are an innovative country with a strong company base and entrepreneurial spirit. Initially around 150 Scottish companies have been identified as having a potential role to play in smart grids, and we will work closely with them as they investigate the opportunities to diversify and seize new market opportunities ahead of the competition."

Led by an industry Working Group comprising SSE, Scottish Power, GE Energy, Cisco, University of Strathclyde and Scottish Enterprise the strategy was developed in consultation with Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Development International and Consumer Focus Scotland.

Professor Jim McDonald, Principal of the University of Strathclyde and co-chair of the Scottish Energy Advisory Board commented on behalf of the industry Working Group: "The Smart Grid Sector Strategy represents an important step forward in capturing Scotland's industry opportunities in one of the largest power engineering infrastructure developments in the 21st Century. In this country we benefit from having world-leading university research capability in key, Smart Grid relevant themes including electrical systems, power engineering and informatics.

"The education and training of the skilled workforce necessary to grow this industry is essential and Scotland's colleges and universities have never been better placed to address such a strategic requirement and job creation opportunity."

Commenting on the positive effects Smart Grid solutions will have on the consumer,
Trisha McAuley, deputy director at Consumer Focus Scotland added: "It is absolutely critical that plans for new technology, such as smart meters, work in the interest of hard-pressed households and businesses struggling with high fuel costs. A key pillar of this strategy focuses on engaging with consumers - this is good news and is needed to build consumers' trust in new low carbon technologies that have real potential to help them drive down their energy costs."

A number of pilot projects which capitalise on Scotland's diverse geography are currently in development. These include Clyde Gateway, which is developing an intelligent network to service a new business park as part of the Sustainable Glasgow Initiative, a cross-sector partnership involving a wide range of public and private sector partners which aims to reduce the city's greenhouse gas emissions whilst maximising the opportunity for Glasgow to develop low-carbon energy technologies, efficient homes, provide affordable heat and create sustainable communities.

The Shetland NINES project will manage the distribution network more effectively through a range of measures such as installing smart storage heaters in 1,000 homes to help balance the network, using new network technologies to enable more small-scale renewable generation and encouraging companies to change their peak use times through the installation of a 1MW battery.

The Smart Grid Working Group is now focussing its efforts in developing a clear, deliverable action plan.


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