Scotland could see thousands of new jobs created if the country becomes a world leader in new energy technology, according to a business leader.
Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC), said as many as 5,500 new jobs could be created across the country as new technologies allowing excess energy to be stored until it is needed are developed.
She made the comments as the SCC urged whoever wins May’s Holyrood election to work with the UK Government to produce a 50-year energy strategy for Scotland.
The SCC also called on the next Scottish Government to “invest to enable Scotland to become a world-leading centre for the design and application of innovative energy storage solutions – a market worth an estimated £1.5 billion with an opportunity to create 5,500 jobs in 30 locations across Scotland”.
Ms Cameron stressed the energy industry was key to Scotland’s economy as she insisted there must be a “coherent energy plan” for the next five decades.
She said: “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.
“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 continued: “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.
“This market is worth an estimated £1.5 billion with the opportunity to create 5,500 new jobs in 30 locations across Scotland.
“The next Scottish Government will have a role to play in this agenda with its responsibilities for renewable energy, planning policy and a range of business taxes.
“It can help to create a better environment for investment in energy solutions, including small scale energy generation and energy saving methods in commercial properties.”