SG Global Renewables CentreAbout us

Vision / Overview

The Global Renewables Centre (GRC) will provide a hub for facilitating knowledge exchange between stakeholders in international development partner countries and the Scottish Renewables Sector, offering networking, shared learning, and resources that enhance global citizenship and enables increased deployment of sustainable energy. The GRC is hosted online by Strathclyde University and funded by the Scottish Government.

Initially the GRC will focus on the Scottish Government’s 3 African international development partner countries: Malawi, Zambia and Rwanda, but with the intention to increase in country scope as the Centre develops.

The principles of the project will be:

  • partner-country led development
  • amplify global-south voices
  • collaboration and partnerships
  • focussing on identifying and responding to local and regional priorities, and a philosophy of mutual knowledge exchange (south-south-north-south) rather than north-south knowledge transfer

What does the GRC do?

The GRC contributes via building capacity to deploy renewables (partner countries sharing their experiences/expertise, and collaborating with Scottish stakeholders) and supporting access to resources to take renewables projects forward.

During the first year we will undertake engagement and scoping to properly target the activities of the centre to partner country priorities and needs.

  • Eco-System Mapping: We are building a detailed picture of key stakeholders, policy frameworks, renewables support programmes and existing role of renewables in development partnerships.  This process will establish the core networks for knowledge exchange, identify key themes for Knowledge Exchange, identify/accumulate supporting resources and data, and map the funding landscape.
  • Developing our Website:  The website will provide guidance and resources that support Knowledge Exchange, enabling stakeholders to quickly understand how renewables can support their development objectives and/or connect with relevant stakeholders to share their knowledge and expertise.
  • Establish Formal Country Partnerships: We are seeking an organisation in each partner country as a formal partner of the GRC, decentralising the operating model and providing a local presence for Knowledge Exchange coordination and support.

The GRC will be located within the Institute for Energy & Environment, one of Europe's leading and largest power systems and energy technology university research groups, and supported by Strathclyde's Centre for Sustainable Development.

Importance of Affordable and Clean Energy (SDG7)

Energy provides individuals with opportunities to study in the dark, give birth safely in hospitals, heat and cool themselves and can be used for economic development. Sustainable and affordable energy are a fundamental necessity for life, health and economic growth.   Renewable energy needs to be at the heart of our efforts to combat climate change and is fundamental in the response to Covid-19.  

Yet 759 million people lack access to electricity; 3 out of 4 of these live in sub-saharan Africa. Only 15% of the population have access to electricity in Malawi, 45% in Zambia and 47% in Rwanda, with major urban rural divides behind those headline figures.

Each partner country faces contextual challenges towards achieving increased renewable deployment and sustainable energy access for all.  Each has national strategy and targets within the SE4All framework that address renewables and energy access, with decentralised renewables for underserved communities a key theme (policy and progress more advanced in some countries than others), yet each has substantial untapped renewables resources.  Development partnerships between organisations in Scotland and these partner countries, often rely on implementation of renewable energy technologies.

Role of the Scottish Government

The Scottish Government places great importance on Scotland being a good global citizen. This means playing its part in tackling global challenges including poverty, injustice and inequality. The Scottish Government’s December 2016 Global Citizenship: Scotland's International Development Strategy sets out its contribution to the international community. The Vision set out in that Strategy makes clear that “Embedding the Global Goals, Scotland will contribute to sustainable development and the fight against poverty, injustice and inequality internationally.”  The Scottish Government contributes development funding to support that Strategy – currently £11.5M pa, an increase this financial year – funding development assistance programmes and knowledge sharing peer-peer initiatives.

Supporting SDG7, affordable and clean energy, has been a key plank of the Scottish Government’s international development funding over the last 10 years, in particular supporting access to clean energy in Malawi. Scotland’s expertise in renewables was recognised in 2012, with the letter from then UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to Scotland’s First Minister acknowledging Scotland's “deep commitment” to sustainable energy.  In addition to funding renewable energy projects in its African partner countries, the Scottish Government also seconded one of its renewable energy experts to the Government of Malawi in 2016 to support them in developing their first national Renewable Energy Strategy, in line with a commitment given to SE4All in that regard.

The Scottish Government has committed to taking an approach of policy coherence for sustainable development (PCSD).  PCSD recognises that the impact that global north countries can make is equally, if not more important than their financial investment – not only across their Government policy but through encouraging their populations to think about their impact of their actions on others. The Scottish Government is therefore working across its Ministerial portfolios, towards a “do no harm” approach, eg in terms of Scotland’s ambitious climate targets and also through collaborations for other positive additional development outcomes. The collaboration between the Scottish Government’s Minister for Europe, Culture and International Development and the Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport, on establishing a the Global Renewables Centre to work with its international development partner countries on exchanging knowledge and research in renewable technologies is a key example of PCSD in action within the Scottish Government.

Scotland’s natural resources in oil and gas have been a significant contribution to the Scottish economy, however we cannot ignore the impact of climate change; the transition to renewable energy is more urgent than ever. Scotland’s focus is on achieving the fastest possible, just transition– one that delivers jobs, provides economic benefit, ensures our energy security and meetings our ambitious net zero target by 2045.  We are looking outwards to develop new partnerships and collaborations to share innovation; the we hope the GRC will facilitate international collaboration.