Heriot-Watt's role in Scotland's first energy strategy



The Scottish Government published Scotland’s first energy strategy this week, and Heriot-Watt’s expertise will make a major contribution to its priorities. 

The strategy sets out six energy priorities for a ‘whole system’ approach to the use and supply of energy for heat, power and transport. 

The Scottish Government’s energy strategy provides a compelling vision for the future of energy provision and use in Scotland. 

John Underhill, Chief Scientist of Heriot-Watt University

The priorities include improving the energy efficiency of Scotland’s built environment, industrial processes and manufacturing; creating a secure and resilient energy supply; investment and innovation in oil and gas, including carbon capture and storage; supporting community-led energy initiatives and championing Scotland’s renewable energy potential. 

The strategy also sets two 2030 targets for the Scottish energy system: 50 percent of Scotland’s heat, transport and electricity consumption to be supplied from renewable sources, and an increase of 30 percent in the productivity of energy use across the Scottish economy. 

Heriot-Watt University is already conducting world-leading research and teaching in each of these priority areas, meaning it is well-placed to make a meaningful contribution to the strategy. In coming months, the university will be engaging with policy makers to highlight the expertise and innovation already underway at our global campuses in each of these areas. 

Dr David Flynn, from the Institute of Sensors, Signals and Systems, contributed to the consultation process and worked with the Scottish Government to ensure the critical role of data and digital technologies were integrated into the strategy. 

Dr Flynn said: “The strategy identifies the need for a whole system approach to our infrastructure, and recognises that our energy systems will become much more interconnected. Looking at each vector in isolation increases costs and timescales for delivery, data is omnipresent within this future energy system,from consumer households to offshore generation assets in the north sea, and will be responsible for the security of the future of supply.”

Professor Mercedes Maroto-Valer, Robert M Buchan Chair in Sustainable Energy Engineering said: “Our Research Centre in Carbon Solutions (RCCS) is a world leading engineering centre delivering innovation for the wider deployment of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) and Carbon Capture and Use (CCU) technologies. 

“Its research programs covers the whole CCS and CCU chains, including the system integration of low carbon technologies that will contribute to the Scottish Government energy strategy.”

John Underhill, Chief Scientist of Heriot-Watt University, said: “The Scottish Government’s energy strategy provides a compelling vision for the future of energy provision and use in Scotland. 

“Heriot-Watt is already active in the key areas required to deliver this vision and we have historic strengths in energy, engineering, exploration and innovation. 

“We have designed and demonstrated local energy projects, supported by smart technology, such as the Origins project in Findhorn led by Professor Eddie Owens; our £38 million robotics and AI research hub is bringing cutting-edge technology to energy asset management, to ensure safe and secure energy supplies, and we are at the forefront of carbon capture and storage research. 

“We are also very active in the visualisation area. Our 3D visualisation centre, made possible through a £700,000 grant from the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), will provide state-of-the-art facilities for research in this area, which is an explicit theme in the strategy. 

“Heriot-Watt’s Energy Academy consolidates all the university’s energy research activities and facilitates interdisciplinary programmes. This approach mirrors the ‘whole system’ vision that the Scottish Government is taking with the strategy 

“This is just a snapshot of the university’s expertise in the government’s priority areas for Scotland’s energy future. There is vast potential for Heriot-Watt University to contribute to these national goals, and I look forward to working with colleagues to highlight our expertise and ensure we make a clear, measurable impact on Scotland’s energy strategy.”

Read the Scottish Government’s energy strategy in full. 
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