Photo by Anders J

The journey towards Net Zero is fraught with complexities and challenges that often seem insurmountable and with Scotland just reneging on its own climate targets, the path is not as clear as we once hoped. Having been involved in renewable energy and sustainable solutions for almost two decades, I have seen the evolution of this sector firsthand and share the growing frustration at the lack of a joined-up approach to driving progress.

While Scotland and the UK go backwards, Ireland has introduced a carbon tax-based solution and the EU’s REPowerEU strategy has set new targets to drive record levels of solar installation. Meanwhile the global bill to finance the transition by 2030 is estimated at $9tn annually.

The financial and infrastructure challenges are significant. For instance, the development of wind energy, once not even considered investable, has required substantial government support. Today the cost and logistics of building and maintaining offshore wind farms, along with associated supply chain issues, remain daunting, and the cost of power to the consumer, pricey. Furthermore, the intermittent nature of wind and solar power means the development of robust energy storage solutions to prevent potential blackouts and ensure consistent supply.

The reality of these technologies and their integration into our existing grid is not proving as seamless as anticipated. As we build out these new systems, it’s clear we’ve barely scratched the surface of the true costs and infrastructure needs. This disjointed approach highlights the lack of coordination and foresight in planning our energy strategies.


However, the shift to a smarter, more flexible energy future also presents tremendous opportunities. The rising cost of traditional energy, exacerbated by geopolitical tensions and global market fluctuations, underscores the urgency of transitioning to renewable sources. In my view, the move towards an electric future, including the integration of electric vehicles which will significantly increase household energy use, requires a rethink on how we generate and consume energy.

One increasingly viable solution is local energy generation and storage. Technological advances, particularly in battery storage, are making it possible for consumers to generate and store their own energy, alleviating dependence on the grid and reducing the cost. Thus, making sustainable living both accessible and economically achievable.

Currently, our policies lag behind technological advances, often constraining the potential for innovation rather than supporting it. Financial models need to evolve to support the upfront costs of renewable technologies and the retrofitting of millions of homes – 2.6m in Scotland alone. It’s crucial that policy makers and investors understand and adapt.

Achieving Net Zero will mean investing billions of pounds in towns and communities across the country to ensure there is adequate infrastructure for an increasingly electric future. I am a huge advocate for the foundation economy and I want to see this money invested properly, offering local businesses a crucial lifeline to upskill and grow.

The skills required for this transition are already within our grasp. The construction industry, while currently facing its own challenges, holds the key to retrofitting millions of homes and businesses. By focusing on upskilling the existing workforce and investing in local economies, we can turn this challenge into a significant opportunity for growth and development.

As we look forward, it’s essential to embrace a holistic approach that includes technological innovation, policy reform, financial restructuring, and skills development. By doing so, we can ensure that the transition to a Net Nero future is not only achievable but also beneficial for all.

John Forster is chairman and founder of Forster Group