Keith Burns, commercial director at Natural Power is standing for election for the Scottish Renewables Board. A passionate champion of renewables and the opportunity it represents for Scotland; he explains below what it would mean for him to represent the members on the board.
“In my current role I am fortunate to work with individuals and companies involved in all aspects of renewable projects from: developers, operators, financiers and multiple parts of the supply chain. Working with them I see the positive impact our industry can have on the environment and our communities, but I also see the challenges they face, across all stages of their projects’ lifecycle and regularly witness the effects that energy policy, grid regulation, planning/consenting policy can have on the economics of a project and how that impacts the pace of activity within our sector.
Climate change is an immediate risk and we need to ensure we meet our Net Zero ambitions as a country. There are “4P’s” that stand out as challenges we need to address as an industry to facilitate the role out of renewable to meet our ambitions: people (& skills), planning, policy, power transmission (grid). The best way to resolve these challenges is, for the industry and government, to work collaboratively to address the points. There are already frameworks in place that help this, the offshore and onshore sector deals being significant achievements that Scottish Renewables helped broker, but we now need to ensure they deliver the opportunity.
I have had the joy of seeing our sector grow over the 13 years’ I have worked in renewable energy as a director in both a renewable consultancy/service provider and OEM/supply chain businesses and have helped shape the strategy and the governance of these businesses during their transition from onshore wind to businesses that understand “all renewables”: offshore wind, solar, storage, heat and hydrogen. This period has seen a lot of people enter the industry, but we still need to accelerate this and provide the training to develop the necessary skills to ensure the industry can continue to expand at the rate needed.
My background prior to the renewables industry was in growing Scottish manufacturing companies in the electronics industry and I am passionate about the opportunity Scotland has to develop a robust local supply chain centred around renewables. In the electronics industry we saw the boom time and then the demise of large parts of that industry through not having the strong foundations to keep companies in Scotland. I want to help ensure we don’t repeat the same mistakes and capture the benefits from Scotwind and the onshore sector deal through investment, local innovation and technological advancement and by ensuring it is a safe and inclusive industry that is attractive to new talent.
Scottish Renewables has been successful in advising government and the regulatory bodies to help address a range of issues and to create a framework for future growth but there is always more work to be done. From my experience with working with those involved in renewables across the supply chain I can offer the board, and the stakeholders that Scottish Renewables engage with, a broad perspective of the challenges our members face and the priorities that need addressed within our industry.”