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100 per cent electricity from renewables by 2020

 

New figures from Scottish Renewables indicate that Scotland could be on course to achieve its 2020 target of generating the equivalent of 100 per cent of the country’s current electrical demand by using only renewable resources, following £2.8 billion of investment since 2009.

‘Scotland’s Renewable Energy Sector in Numbers’ released last Friday (10 August) by Scottish Renewables, formed part of a series of statistics by the Scottish representative body that gathered data from a number of sources, including the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), and presented figures on energy capacity, output, jobs and investment, and emissions.

While figures for Scotland’s total energy consumption in 2011 will not be available until later this year, the report indicates that if they were equal to those of 2010, nearly 35 per cent (or 13,735 gigawatt hours (GWh)), of Scottish energy was generated from renewable resources last year. Rising from 8,215 GWh in 2007, this equates to an increase of 67 per cent in the amount of renewable energy being used in the last four years.

Supposing the sector continues to develop at the same rate between 2011 and 2020, and all renewable energy projects (including those currently at the planning stage) are completed by 2020, the Scottish Government would succeed in achieving their 100 per cent renewable energy target.

Scottish Renewables Chief Executive, Niall Stuart, announced the findings last week, saying: “These figures show Scotland’s renewables industry is very much bucking the economic trend. During the downturn our industry has delivered some £2.8 billion of much needed capital investment in our economy. This has helped to grow the supply chain, secure the future of many companies and support more than 11,000 jobs. At a time of sluggish growth, the renewable electricity sector is expanding by more than 10 per cent a year, and now generates the equivalent of 35 per cent of annual demand.”

The report also revealed that, of the £2.8 billion invested, onshore wind farms have received the bulk of funding, at a combined total of £1622.4 million. Stuart remarked that this was “not surprising” as the technology is “the most cost-effective”, adding: “It is mature sectors such as the wind industry that will help fund emerging sources of renewable electricity and under-write investment in grid connections that will benefit sectors such as wave and tidal. These figures show the importance of the sector to our economy.”

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government also welcomed the statistics, saying: "Such high investment figures in challenging economic times, including recent investment from international companies such as Samsung, Gamesa and Mitsubishi, show that renewable energy is going from strength to strength in Scotland. The Scottish Government is committed to the deployment of a mix of renewable technologies, increasingly offshore generation as well as onshore wind, which is strategically critical to the delivery of the grid infrastructure, supply chain and skills development that will be necessary to unlock the potential of the offshore technologies."

On the same day as the figures were released (10 August), ScottishPower Renewables announced that they had submitted a planning application to the Scottish Government for a five turbine extension at Whitelee Windfarm, near Glasgow. It is predicted that the extension would generate up to an additional 12 megawatts (MW) of energy, increasing the windfarm’s capacity to 551 MW.

Whitelee is Europe’s largest onshore wind farm, and the new turbines would be located to the west of the existing East Ayrshire site. UK Managing Director of ScottishPower Renewables, Simon Christian, described the site as “a fantastic demonstration of the economic benefits that renewable energy projects can deliver”, adding that: “Although our proposals for the third extension are relatively small, we think it is important to make the most of this excellent site and this development would make an important contribution towards Scotland’s renewable energy targets.”

‘Scotland’s Renewable Energy Sector in Numbers’ can be found on Scottish Renewables’ website.