Renewable Targets Increased as Scotland’s Green Potential Revealed

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The Scottish government has responded to a call by energy body Scottish Renewables for a massive increase in Scotland’s renewable energy targets by increasing their 2020 target from 50% to 80%.

The announcement comes on the day that research is published showing Scotland on track to smash its 50% target for expanding the nation’s renewable power generation.


The Scottish government has responded to a call by energy body Scottish Renewables for a massive increase in Scotland’s renewable energy targets by increasing their 2020 target from 50% to 80%.

The announcement comes on the day that research is published showing Scotland on track to smash its 50% target for expanding the nation’s renewable power generation.

Figures from the report ‘Driving the Low Carbon Economy: Reviewing Our Ambitions’ indicate that Scotland’s renewable energy potential is massively greater than previously thought and that the original 50% target will be reached with ease rising to an incredible 81% within 10 years. 

The research also shows that, with appropriate investment and energy efficiency, Scotland could eventually end up with a 23% energy surplus, allowing the nation to export electricity to other countries.  Scotland will eventually contribute more than 50% of the total UK renewables capacity by 2020.

Over the last three years Scotland’s renewable energy sector has declared a new scale of ambition, with announcements of:

  • Agreements for 10.6GW of offshore wind development
  • Commitments to 1.2GW of wave and tidal power in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters
  • 1200MW of additional potential hydro capacity
  • Proposals for more than 500MW of biomass heat and power

The Scottish Government has now calculated that significantly higher levels of renewables could be deployed by 2020 with little change to the current policy, planning or regulation framework in Scotland.

First Minister Alex Salmond said:

“Scotland is blessed with abundant natural energy sources, particularly in our seas, where Scotland is estimated to have a quarter of Europe’s potential wind and tidal energy capacity and a tenth of its wave resource. We are already on the path to a low carbon economy – Scotland gets nearly a quarter of it electricity from green sources.

“Scotland is ideally-placed to help lead the renewables revolution and taking account of the levels of planned investment over the next decade, I believe it is now time to aim higher and to go further.

“Recent work by Scottish Enterprise has shown the huge potential for employment in the renewable industry, with up to 28,000 direct jobs being created to service the Scottish, UK and worldwide markets for offshore wind turbines. It has also been estimated that 60,000 new green jobs could be created by 2020 in low carbon industries

“The value of the global low carbon economy is estimated to reach some £4.3 trillion by the middle of this decade so now is the time to act. Next week senior figures from the financial and energy industries will join government and other public sector leaders in Edinburgh to identify how we best maximise the huge opportunities before us. It is vital that all of us work with ambition and vision to seize the moment and secure a sustainable future for the next generation.”

Niall Stuart, Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables, said: “Across the world, policy makers are wrestling with three major challenges: reviving economic growth, reducing carbon emissions and securing energy supplies.  Increasingly, renewable energy is being recognised as a key part of the answer to not just one or two of these questions, but to all of them.
 
“The current Holyrood administration set ambitious targets for 50 per cent of electricity consumption and 20 per cent of all primary energy use to be met by renewables by 2020. These objectives were dismissed as unachievable and unworkable at the time, but Scotland’s renewable energy industry has grown massively over the last few years, putting us well on track to meet this objective ahead of schedule.
 
“It is now time for Scotland to set out a new level of ambition for the next decade, and this report supports the introduction of a new target of at least 80 per cent, and ultimately an aim of meeting the equivalent of our electricity demands from renewable sources.
 
“To secure this ambition requires confidence, certainty and leadership, all of which would be strongly reinforced and supported by the extension of existing targets, and can only be achieved with the right legislative, regulatory and financial environment for the development of all forms of renewables.  To achieve it would mean massive environmental, economic and social gains for our country.”

Scottish Renewables warn that nothing can be taken for granted and reaching the targets will require massive investment and concerted support from all levels of government.  They joined the SNP in calls for the Fossil Fuel Levy funds to be released by the UK coalition government and urged energy watchdog Ofgem, who announced a review of transmission grid charges yesterday, to incentivise generation where our strongest renewable resources are located.

Mr Stuart added: “To achieve this scale of ambition in the timescales set out will require investment on a massive scale and concerted support from all levels of government. We need effective and efficient consenting regimes that balance the need for renewable energy development with other interests and delivery of new grid connections and upgrades.
 
“The report also reinforces the need for Ofgem’s review of transmission to deliver of a modern grid charging framework that recognises our increasing inter-dependence and the need to incentivise generation where our strongest renewable resources are located.
 
“Release of the Fossil Fuel Levy should be used to support investment in infrastructure necessary to support the development of a supply chain capable of large scale deployment of offshore wind and wave and tidal energy.  And of course it is absolutely vital that we maintain certainty for investors through stable market support mechanisms.”

In order for Scotland to achieve her potential the report lists the priorities as:

  • effective and efficient consenting regimes that balance the need for renewable energy development with other interests
  • delivery of new grid connections and upgrades to carry power from where it is generated to where it is consumed
  • introduction of a modern grid charging framework that recognises our increasing inter-dependence and the need to incentivise generation where our strongest renewable resources are located
  • investment in infrastructure necessary to support the development of a supply chain capable of large scale deployment of offshore wind and wave and tidal energy
  • certainty for investors through the maintenance of stable market support mechanisms