Post by David Souter –
Scotland already has set very clear ambitions in respect of the low carbon transition and the development of the low carbon economy in the Government Economic Strategy, which chimes very well with EU priorities in respect of renewable energy targets and energy market integration, energy efficiency, the low carbon roadmap and jobs and growth.
How do we make sure that a reducing pot of European funding is used to support the 3 linked project pipelines that are emerging?
Energy infrastructure, including interconnection and N-RIP – port and business infrastructure.
Low Carbon Communities – energy efficiency, digital, smart communities (integrated community solutions), micro-renewables, sustainable transport.
Low Carbon Innovation – Final stage demonstration/commercialisation.
Common provisions and eligibility rules should make this easier to achieve.
However, we also need to foster a shared view across stakeholder groups on how to maximise the economic development impact by offering a degree of flexibility to deliver funding where it is likely to have the biggest impact.
More traditional grant interventions won’t be enough so we need to create a scale of funding and breadth of eligible projects that will allow us to create sustainable Financial Engineering Instruments(FEI). The scale and broader base of the funds are more likely to be attractive to other investors by offering a wider portfolio of projects.
FEIs would also lift the audit and compliance burden away from individual sponsors and place it with professional fund managers.
We could potentially create interventions that are seen to be ahead of the game in driving the delivery of shared European and domestic policy priorities. This will allow us to influence the EU debate on strategic areas such as low carbon and digital and increases the likelihood that we can access the challenge funds to meet priorities like digital rollout, North Sea grid, community renewables.
One approach could be one fund ‘Low Carbon Scotland’ with a number of discrete pots of funding targeted either geographically (rural/urban) or
- thematically (energy efficiency, micro-renewables, sustainable public transport etc).
We have an opportunity to develop centre of expertise that would seek to build projects of sufficient scale to attract investment from centrally managed challenge pots. (ELENA TA potentially available).
Added to the more traditional ERDF contributions a common theme that touches all 3 project pipelines is the need to use the allocation from the European Social Fund (ESF) to ensure that we develop a workforce with the skills needed to take advantage of the employment opportunities low carbon transition will offer.
This could include commissioning low carbon related outcomes from the strategic delivery agents who are likely to deliver the bulk of the ESF programme(s).
If we are serious about getting the leverage we need to deliver our ambitions, then this is the minimum level of integration that we need to achieve. Do you agree?