Climate change is happening right now, and Scotland is doing its part by progressing towards a more sustainable way of living. In 2020, the equivalent of 97.4 percent of Scotland’s gross electricity consumption was from renewable sources which is why, here at Zero Waste Scotland, we want to keep our place as a global leader in the energy industry.
The last decade has seen the start of a global clean energy revolution, and with abundant natural resources and globally recognised offshore industries, Scotland is well positioned to be an international leader in renewable energy. Scotland’s world-leading climate change targets now incorporate the aim of supplying 50 percent of the energy for Scotland’s heat, transport, and electricity consumption from renewable sources by 2030.
However, we also need to think about the materials needed to make this happen.
Last year, our Material Flow Account revealed that around four-fifths of Scotland’s footprint comes from the products and materials we manufacture, use, and throw away. On average, Scots consume 18.4 tonnes of materials every year – nearly double the sustainable level that still allows for a high-quality life.
But imagine a world where we design and manufacture products in such a way that they can be used and reused for as long as possible – maximising their value. Imagine at the end of their life, they can be refurbished or remanufactured into other high value, high quality products. This exists and is called a circular economy.
Switching to a circular economy means the adoption of new business models and the design of products with their whole life cycle in mind: modular building for deconstruction, remanufacturing and reprocessing. Reducing the leakage of material, but also energy, from the economic system is a fundamental principle of the circular economy.
When it comes to energy infrastructure, this includes the physical materials used to generate, store and distribute energy. Put simply, this means the nuts, bolts, pipes, wires, and pumps involved in supplying both electricity and heat to our homes and businesses.
All available research shows that moving to a world powered by clean technologies will result in a greater demand for materials. From rare earth elements employed in wind turbine generators and critical raw materials in lithium-ion batteries, to the thousands of tonnes of steel and concrete used in offshore energy installations, demand for metals will increase as we strive to meet climate change targets.
However, we know that employing a circular approach to energy infrastructure not only safeguards against future raw resource shortages, but also helps with job creation and supply chain opportunities in Scotland as part of the transition to renewable energy.
Zero Waste Scotland is a proud sponsor of the Highlands and Islands Green Energy Conference taking place this Wednesday, where you can join myself to hear more about energy infrastructure and the business support that we offer.
It comes as yet another amazing opportunity to show the work we are doing in Scotland to lead the way in green energy.
Helen Lavery, Partner at Zero Waste Scotland
Helen is talking at the Green Energy conference on the 8th of June in Inverness, find out more here.