Published date

June 2019

Scotland’s Energy Future

The RSE’s major inquiry into Scotland’s Energy Future was published in June 2019.

The report highlighted that no energy policy, no matter how well-considered, is capable of solving all the issues of energy supply and use and that difficult and costly choices will have to be made. It warns that there are no easy options and all decisions will require compromise and trade-offs, each with significant consequences. However, the challenges present an opportunity for Scotland to explore and develop world-leading, innovative solutions.

Scotland’s Energy Future sets out the significant challenges faced by Scotland, and the rest of the world, as it looks to continue to produce the energy it requires, while attempting to meet its carbon reduction targets. Even under the most ambitious of plans to reduce demand and use energy more efficiently, Scotland will need energy for heat, transport and electricity and a decision must be made on how this will be sourced. The expected major increase in demand for electricity, coupled with Scotland’s electricity generating capacity decreasing due to the closures, and planned closures, of various power stations serves to make the issue more pressing.

The advantages and drawbacks of the options available to Scotland are explored and highlight that emerging low-carbon technologies, which are required to meet important carbon reduction targets, may be the preferred solutions but are likely to be significantly more expensive in the short-term than current methods.

The report’s recommendations include:

  • The establishment of an independent, expert commission on energy;
  • The need for timely and well-considered decisions by Scottish and UK governments on how and in what to invest;
  • Prioritisation of climate protection targets;
  • Investment in new low-carbon energy generating capacity;
  • A reduction in the demand for energy;
  • Improved standards for lowering the net energy consumption of housing and infrastructure that are enforced and regularly updated.

The RSE also calls on the Scottish and UK governments to improve political cooperation to ensure robust and sustainable energy policy can be developed and implemented.

Final report:

Download the full report: Scotland’s Energy Future


Sir Muir Russell (Chair)

Prof Rebecca Lunn (Deputy Chair) – University of Strathclyde

Prof Simon Harley – University of Edinburgh

Prof Gareth Harrison – University of Edinburgh

Prof Gavin Little – University of Stirling

Prof Stephen McArthur – University of Strathclyde

Prof Peter Smith – University of Aberdeen

Prof Karen Turner – University of Strathclyde

Prof John Underhill – Heriot-Watt Univerity

Prof Janette Webb – University of Edinburgh



The Inquiry thanks the following organisations and individuals for their contribution:

2050 Climate Group
Alex Quayle
Brian Richardson
British Geological Survey
Citizen Advice Scotland
Colin Gibson
Community Energy Scotland
Competition and Markets
Derek Birkett
Dr Astley Hastings
Dr Euan Mearns
Dr Theo Koutmeridis
DumGal Against Pylons
Dunelm Energy
Edinburgh Centre for Carbon
Energy Action Scotland
Energy Agency
Existing Homes Alliance
Friends ofthe Earth Scotland
Geological Society
Institute of Engineers and
Shipbuilders in Scotland
James Hutton Institute
Johanna Carrie
John Burnett
Joseph Proskauer
Local Energy Scotland
Margaret Burnett
Marksman Consulting
Mike Travers
Nuclear Industry Association
Orkney Islands Council
Our Power
Paul Spare
Prof Brian Smart
Prof Dragan Jovcic
Prof Roger Crofts
Prof Stephen Salter
Prof Stuart Haszeldine
Prof Raphael Heffron
Reach Coal Seam Gas
Robert Schneider
RSPB Scotland
Scotland’s Futures Forum
Scottish Accessible
Transport Alliance
Scottish Communities
Climate Action Network
Scottish Council for
Development and Industry
Scottish Enterprise
Scottish Federation
of Housing Associations
Scottish Government
Scottish Power
Scottish Renewables
Scottish Science Advisory
Shetland Islands Council
Sir Donald Miller
Stephen Shellard
Transform Scotland
UK Energy Research Centre
UK Government
Western Isles Council
William Barrie Heptonstall
ZeroWaste Scotland


For further information on the inquiry please contact the Secretariat, Craig Denham.