By Alison van Diggelen, host of Fresh Dialogues
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Lena Wilson has been described as one of the most powerful women in Scotland. She’s CEO of both Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Development International, two publicly funded organizations focused on stimulating sustainable growth in Scotland. The country has an ambitious target to provide 50% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.
I caught up with Lena on a recent trip to Scotland and discussed her role as “Scotland’s chief salesperson.” She explained the political will for its energy targets and described the green strategy: focus on a low carbon future and leverage Scotland’s natural advantages: 25% of Europe’s wind and wave power potential, cool climate; infrastructure and research strengths.
On Scotland’s value proposition
“Scotland has moved significantly up the value chain. It isn’t about cheap assembly plants anymore…Scotland has natural assets, talent, a business infrastructure and science base that can make it the most competitive business location for R & D.”
Who is the Al Gore of Scotland?
Is it First Minister, Alex Salmond?
“I don’t know if Alex Salmond would like to be known as the Al Gore of Scotland; but he is absolutely the champion for a low carbon Scotland. That passion absolutely infects everyone else.”
On the political will for Scotland’s ambitious 50% renewable energy goal
“Politically we have a government that is very committed to a low carbon Scotland. It pervades through the whole economic strategy.”
On public attitudes to wind turbines and green policies
“There are lots of debates about the visible statement of green…but in Scotland, Whitelees is Europe’s biggest wind farm and a local gentleman in his 70′s admitted it was going to take a bit of getting used to but said ‘I’m very proud that we’re doing this.’ I think the NIMBY mentality is going… I think it’s a popular agenda. ”
On Lena’s green motivations
“Whilst I want to save my planet, my compelling push is that economically this makes sense and I think in terms of recovery… green jobs…one of the lowest carbon economies…that’s got to be a winning combination.”
On the country’s reputation for… bad weather
“Yes, there are advantages to wind and rain and cool weather…I’m talking to companies (Microsoft and HP) about green data centers (in Scotland).”
Check back soon for Part Two of the interview when Lena discusses the Scottish based European Marine Energy Center – the only testing center for tidal and wave power in the world; how Scotland is leveraging its oil and gas industry expertise for offshore wind and wave power development and what ‘draconian’ policies are pursued to ensure Scottish civil servants adopt green practices.