Green Economy Fund Launch

24 June 2021

Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero officially launches Renewable Training Centres

Watch a recording of the full virtual event here

Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport, officially launched nine new Renewable & Energy Efficiency Training Centres for Scotland today (24 June 2021), supported by ESP and funded by SP Energy Networks’ £20million Green Economy Fund.

Six new centres have been created in Ayrshire College, Borders College, Edinburgh College, Forth Valley College, Fife College and Glasgow Kelvin College with upgrades to two existing centres in South Lanarkshire College and West College Scotland, a diagnostic centre in West Lothian College and the creation of four centres of excellence for insulation in Edinburgh College, South Lanarkshire College, West College Scotland and West Lothian College.

A virtual event took place to mark the occasion with key speakers including Mr Matheson, Jim Brown (Director of ESP), Jillian Violaris (Green Economy Fund Manager at SP Energy Networks) and Dr Ken Thomson OBE (Principal of Forth Valley College).

ESP is a collaboration of Scotland’s colleges and industry partners established to increase Scotland’s capability and capacity to deliver the right skills for the energy, engineering and construction sectors. ESP were awarded £500,000 in 2019 from the SP Energy Networks Green Economy Fund, which was established in 2018 by the electricity network operator for Central & Southern Scotland.

SP Energy Networks’ £20million Green Economy Fund supports the delivery of the Scottish Government’s ambitious plans to meet climate change targets, boost local economic growth, improve air quality across the country and deliver a better future, quicker for local communities.

In order to manage the project, ESP established the Energy Efficiency Training Network comprising of nine colleges to launch new training centres including: Ayrshire College, Borders College, Edinburgh College, Fife College, Forth Valley College, Glasgow Kelvin College, South Lanarkshire College, West College Scotland and West Lothian College.

The SP Energy Networks Green Economy Fund has supported significant capital investment in renewable and energy efficiency training equipment. It originally aimed to establish four new centres and to upgrade two existing centres – however, has resulted in six new centres, upgrades to two existing centres, the establishment of one diagnostic centre and the creation of four centres of excellence for insulation.

The colleges involved will continue to upgrade the facilities when new technologies are developed, ensuring the sustainability of the project. This project has also cemented key industry partnerships for the colleges, positioning them at the forefront of training for the future renewables and energy efficiency workforce in Scotland.

In addition, the initiative is also supporting staff training and continuing professional development in current and emerging technologies, as well as supporting overall curriculum development.

The investment and training achieved by this project will position Scotland’s Colleges at the centre of upskilling programmes and increase both commercial and curriculum activity for the colleges. Colleges are therefore in a strong position to help drive the skills needed to create green jobs and accelerate the Just Transition to net-zero by 2045.

The launch of the new centres is also particularly significant in a year when the world’s attention will be on Scotland for the United Nations COP26 climate change conference. SP Energy Networks is part of the Scottish Power group, a Principal Partner for the United Nations climate change conference (COP26) to be held in Glasgow later this year. It is developing an energy model that will play a significant role in reaching the UK’s world-leading climate change targets and is investing a total of £10billion in the clean energy generation and networks infrastructure needed to help the UK decarbonise and reach Net Zero emissions.

ESP and Scotland’s colleges will continue to work alongside the Scottish Government’s strategy to set out the mechanisms for moving Scotland towards a zero emissions future for heating buildings, reducing demand for heat and decarbonising supply, making Scotland’s homes and buildings warmer, greener and more efficient.

Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport, Michael Matheson, who is also a local MSP for Falkirk West, said:

“Providing the right training and skills is critical for ensuring a just transition to net-zero, making sure that, as we reduce our emissions and respond to the climate emergency, the journey is fair and creates a better future for everyone.   

“We have a vision for more than 1 million homes to be using low and zero emissions heating systems by 2030 and I welcome the work that ESP and Scottish Power have done to develop an Energy Efficiency Training Network to develop the skills and support the workforce that will be required to achieve this.

“Complementing our own support packages for skills, including the National Transition Training Fund and the development of the Green Jobs Workforce Academy, I am confident this training network will provide a valuable resource in helping hundreds if not thousands of people secure the good green job opportunities that our journey to net-zero presents.”  

Jim Brown, Director of ESP, said:

“The SP Energy Networks’ Green Economy Fund project has seen a massive impact for colleges across central and southern Scotland in developing the capability and capacity to deliver the future skills industry need if they are to support government’s commitment to reach Net Zero by 2045.

“The fund has allowed early intervention in advance of demand and informed Scottish Government’s support for the skills agenda with Scottish Government and ESP working together to secure funding to expand the development across the whole of Scotland.

“It has been a true partnership with government, industry and colleges working together to address the skills challenges in reducing carbon emissions, supporting green growth and the just transition to Net Zero and ESP is delighted to have facilitated this!”

Guy Jefferson, Chief Operating Officer at SP Energy Networks, said: 

“It’s clear that the transition to a green economy requires a workforce with the right skills and, with a significant skills gaps in the industry, we know that education plays a crucial role in the move to a low carbon economy.

“We have provided funding for Forth Valley College’s new Renewable & Energy Efficiency Training Centre through the Energy Skills Partnership. It’s amazing to see the training centre being installed as Forth Valley College commits to supporting Scotland’s renewable energy sector with world-class training.

“The official launch of the training centre will position Forth Valley College as one of the nine colleges providing the necessary training for the future renewables and energy efficiency workforce in Scotland. It’s vital that no community is left behind.”

Dr Ken Thomson OBE, Principal of Forth Valley College, said:

“We are delighted to host the official launch of the new training facilities, which will allow us to train the next generation of construction professionals in the essential skills of installing and maintaining energy saving systems.

“We thank SP Energy Networks’ Green Economy Fund and ESP for providing us with this equipment, which will benefit our students enormously. Two of our MAs – one a joiner and the other a plumbing and heating engineer – recently helped to install the equipment in our excellent new workshop. I understand the apprentice plumber involved will complete his own course by training on the equipment he installed, so it has already started to educate our MAs! We can’t wait to welcome our first classes in to start training in our exciting new renewable heating technology facility at our new Falkirk Campus.”

To find out more about SP Energy Networks’ Green Economy Fund and the projects it supports, please visit: