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Green energy revolution to be launched in Aberdeen

05/05/11

Scotland's local authorities and energy industry are set to launch a green energy revolution with the first ever conference to explore the use of public sector assets in the delivery commercial renewable energy projects.

COSLA [Convention of Scottish Local Authorities], SCDI [Scottish Council for Development and Industry], SLAED [Scottish Local Authorities Economic Development] and Aberdeen City Council, will host EMPOWERING SCOTLAND: Maximising the Potential of Public Assets for Low Carbon Energy on Tuesday 21 June at the Douglas Hotel, Aberdeen.

The conference has been organised to discuss the potential opportunities for councils, the wider public sector and their private and community partners in generating renewable energy following last year's change in the law, allowing councils to generate and sell renewable energy.

Given the duties placed on public bodies by the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009, the conference is a further demonstration of Scottish Local Authorities commitment to a low carbon agenda and their new statutory duty.

Until now, the public sector has generally played a limited direct role in the low carbon economy. Local authorities have been able to put renewable electricity they generate to local use, but they have been legally restricted from selling excess renewable electricity into the grid and from benefiting from the Feed-In Tariff (FiT). Only 0.01% of UK electricity generation is by local authority-owned renewables. In Germany, the equivalent figure is 100 times higher. The change in the law last year overturns this ban so local authorities may take full advantage of the opportunities and incentives available for renewable energy production.

This conference is designed to be attended by 250 delegates, including senior councillors and officers from all of Scotland's 32 local authorities, the energy industry, the wider public sector and the business community. Examples from overseas and closer to home will illustrate how the public sector can be a catalyst, partner and wealth generator in the low carbon economy.

Acting COSLA Regeneration and Sustainable Development Spokesperson Councillor Iain Ross: "This conference is the next logical step for Scottish Local Government leadership on low carbon issues. Scottish Local Authorities have demonstrated a commitment to this agenda in developing and implementing the Scottish Climate Change Declaration over the last 3 years.

"Collectively we wish to continue to provide best value to our communities and leadership to wider society by maximizing the potential of our assets to generate renewable low carbon energy following last year's change in the law.

"This conference will be a catalyst for investigating in greater detail the investment opportunities and frameworks highlighted in the draft Scottish Futures Trust report".

Councillor John Stewart, Leader of Aberdeen City Council said: "Aberdeen City Council is pleased to be playing host to another major renewable energy conference just over a month after the All-Energy conference.

"It demonstrates Aberdeen's position as one of, if not the prime renewables conference venue in the United Kingdom. We have a fantastic agenda and speakers and look forward to welcoming a substantial and varied audience to Aberdeen in late June".

Robert Armour, Chair of the Scottish Council for Development and Industry and the Empowering Scotland event, commented: "To achieve Scotland's low carbon energy ambitions, Scotland will need to maximise all of its assets, knowledge and skills. It is estimated that 12bn will be available from incentives for local green energy projects over the next 20 years and, by capitalising on the many opportunities on the public estate, local authorities can not only generate vital new revenues, but stimulate new jobs in local and national businesses. But they cannot unlock them alone and, at this event, they will be seeking to create the partnerships with the private sector which will enable delivery of investment and sustainable economic growth."

Colin McNaught, Knowledge Leader on Energy for the AEA Group: "Our analysis shows that the Feed in Tariff has already transformed the market for small scale renewable electricity generation. While Scotland currently is a leader, across the UK many public bodies are planning ambitious projects that will overturn this. This conference will help public bodies in Scotland develop their plans to take advantage of the Feed in Tariff, earning income and reducing carbon emissions."