January 27 2012

How Realistic is the Scottish Government’s Target of 100% Electricity Generation from Renewable Sources by 2020?

Scottish Wind TurbinesWith a wealth of natural resources, Scotland has the potential to be a world leader in renewable energy production and Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmond, is happy to encourage a new industry that with create jobs and wealth.  Scotland’s wind, wave and tidal potential make up to 25% of the EU capacity.

This has major benefits for not only how Scotland meets its electricity demands, but also a major export industry for safe, green energy to the rest of Europe.  A recent report by think tank Reform Scotland highlighted that increasing Scotland’s energy exports could increase manufacturing exports by 17%.

There are already problems with increasing renewable electricity supply in Scotland:

  • Research and Development: Aspects of tidal and off shore wind power generation are still emerging technologies and require research and development before being built.  This takes time and money;
  • Investment: major infrastructure is required to connect these new off shore and isolated power generators to the national grid.  There have already been concerns about high charges to connect and use the grid by renewables.

Concerns over the Scottish Government’s target include the use of a percentage; with no starting point it needs to be more specific to be meaningful, it is also difficult to see how progress can be measured.  The Institute of Mechanical Engineers have published an interesting report, outlining that the target is unrealistic because it is not based on a technical research.  In the last decade, Scotland has increased renewable electricity generation by 6TWh per year.  In order to achieve the 100% target, this would need to increase to 39.2TWh per year (that’s a 650% increase!) Based on these figures, the target seems unachievable too, given the current recession and a limited amount of time and funds available.

In 2010, 24.1% of Scotland’s electricity came from renewables.

Norway is the closest European country to achieving 100% renewable generation.  Natural hydro supplies 83% of its electricity.  This has been achieved by a constant and long running ambition to achieve energy security.

Should Scotland be committing more money to renewables during a recession?

Credits: Image and data linked to sources.

Laura Paterson

Laura Paterson is a graduate of the Mackintosh School of Architecture in Glasgow and Edinburgh College of Art. She holds a B.Arch in Architectural Studies and a PG Diploma in Architecture and is currently studying for a M.Sc Architecture: Advanced Environmental and Energy Studies with the Centre for Alternative Technology, Wales. A qualified United Kingdom architect, Laura was born and still lives in Edinburgh, Scotland. Edinburgh, with its a rich source of historic buildings was what inspired her to study Architecture. With experience in refurbishing Victorian houses, Laura has a particular interest in sustainable, low carbon refurbishment of historic buildings and passive approaches to building design.

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This entry was posted on Friday, January 27th, 2012 at 3:56 pm and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Energy, Environment, Infrastructure, Land Use. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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