What might high temperatures and low rainfall mean for the Scottish economy?

Scott J. McGrane, Grant Allan and Graeme Roy

The prolonged period of warm and dry weather during June and early July is at odds with what many of us would call a “traditional Scottish summer”. These conditions however, are representative of a number of quite extraordinary global weather events that have occurred in the past few months. From the ongoing drought conditions, wildfires and subsequent flooding and landslide events that ravaged California last year, the near-miss of “day zero” in Cape Town, where dry conditions and poor water management almost resulted in no water supply being available, and the global heatwave currently impacting many countries across the globe, climatic extremes have had significant impacts on livelihoods, infrastructure and economies alike.

In this note we set out whether this is genuinely atypical weather, what the consequences have been for water in Scotland (both in terms of supply and demand), before discussing what is currently known about the links between Scotland’s economy and water. We conclude with a discussion of what this recent period might mean for the Scottish economy in a future climate in which water characteristics seen over the last few weeks may be more regular occurrences.

This is part of a new project we’re working on with colleagues at Stanford University in the US looking at the role of technology in improving environmental measurement and the potential implications for our economy.

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July 26, 2018

The impact of economic downturns upon the energy transition

This blog discusses research in progress by David Comerford & Alessandro Spiganti, entitled “The Energy Trap”, which was presented at the Royal Economic Society conference at the University of Sussex on 27th March 2018. The presentation slides can be found here. The purpose of this blog is to describe this early stage research, which is at the stage of being presented to an academic conference, to a non-technical audience.

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April 23, 2018

Scotland’s record year for renewables

Yesterday, the Scottish Government published new statistics on renewable energy generation up to the end of 2017.

The figures show a significant increase in output during the final three months of last year – with 2017 now the best year on record for renewables in Scotland.

With positive economic news not always that easy to find in recent times, these numbers are clearly welcome.

There is an added benefit. Next week’s GDP numbers for Q4 2017 will include this increase in electricity generation. So the numbers should provide a significant boost to the production sector of the economy, potentially lifting the overall quarterly growth figures substantially.

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March 30, 2018

A renewable future from oil and gas?

Grant Allan and Eleanor Malloy

Fraser of Allander Institute


Are oil and gas firms seeing opportunities in renewables? In this blog, we examine the responses from our latest Oil and Gas Survey, produced along with Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce.

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July 6, 2017

Measuring the economic successes of low carbon and renewable policies in Scotland

Grant Allan, Department of Economics and Deputy Director Fraser of Allander Institute, University of Strathclyde


It was central to 2010’s “Low carbon economic strategy for Scotland” that there could be economic opportunities in decarbonising the Scottish economy: “jobs in the low carbon sector in Scotland could… rise to 130,000, over 5% of the Scottish workforce”. The slightly later “2020 Routemap for Renewable Energy in Scotland” justified ambitious energy targets – for instance, the equivalent of 100% of Scottish electricity demand to be produced from renewables in Scotland – as “necessary to reindustrialise Scotland through 21st century technologies and seize the opportunities to create tens of thousands of new jobs and secure billions of pounds of investment in our economy”. Five years later, it is an opportune time to reflect on what we can conclude about the economic successes of low carbon and renewable energy policy in Scotland.

So are we on track to secure a jobs revolution?Continue reading

November 10, 2016