ENERGY vulnerability is fast becoming a critical issue in Scotland. Almost everyone is aware of their energy costs every month so it is a problem of the highest visibility. The oligopoly of the UK’s energy market has gone on far too long, so the announcement from the SNP to try to give consumers an alternative via a not-for-profit, publicly owned supplier is a very welcome one.

Common Weal has been at the forefront of the problem of energy security since our founding and we have published several papers on energy with several more to come in the very near future. Perhaps, then, we can explore what the energy landscape of Scotland could look like from our All of Us First perspective.

The first important link in the whole story is funding. A Scottish National Investment Bank – another Common Weal idea now adopted by the Scottish Government – would be able to draw on public investment to provide the credit required to set up both a national energy company and a network of municipal energy companies.

READ MORE: Scotland's new national energy firm will boost renewables sector and reduce household bills

The national energy company would be concerned with overall strategy and management of a renationalised energy grid which could be reconfigured to suit Scotland’s needs and resources.

The current grid works great if we are talking about a system of energy generation that can ship coal, oil and gas to power plants located close to consumers. Those days are gone, or going soon, and we can’t move the wind and the tides.

The municipal companies would look like the proposal outlined by the government except they would be smaller, leaner and locally based rather than one supplier for the whole nation. They would also be charged with managing the local community generators such as communal wind farms.

These would generate power for the community and could export to other areas to generate revenue for community projects. These companies could work on a local strategic level to find shortcomings in their area, to help fill gaps in provision and ensure that everyone’s energy needs are met or exceeded.

Meanwhile, we cannot ignore the problem that lies at the heart of so much of the fuel and energy poverty in Scotland. Our homes are simply far too cold and not insulated well enough.

Common Weal recently launched a year long project called Housekeeping Scotland – part of which will look at the issues of insulation and building materials.

Half of all the energy generated in Scotland is used for heating our buildings and while the Government has ambitious targets ahead of it, the fact is that a properly designed house can be built right now in such a way that it reduces its heating needs by 90 per cent. In addition to our energy supply strategies, there is still a long way to go to integrate this with energy demand strategy as well as housing and other economic strategies.

Integration is the key to all of this. None of these policies can exist in isolation; we need the narrative which threads them all together and the vision to see them through.

The announcement of the public energy company represents a very welcome first step and we hope to be able to work with the government to help them go even further.

Dr Craig Dalzell is head of research at Common Weal