One country that is really galvanizing wind energy to increase its renewable energy profile is Scotland. 2011 was an epic year for Scottish energy companies. The Department for Energy and Climate Change released figures recently demonstrating that the renewable energy sector saw more than £750 million of investment last year. Currently seven gigawatts (GW) of renewable projects are operational, under construction or approved.
As part of the country’s sustainable future, several projects are in the pipeline to eventually deliver 17 GW of power with an estimated investment of £46 billion. By 2020, Scotland has the target of generating 100 percent of electricity through renewable sources. It is already well on its way to hit its interim target of 31 percent.
SSE, Scotland’s leading renewable energy company rapidly expanded its onshore wind firms surpassing its intended 1 GW capacity mark. SSE is also working on the $780 million Clyde array in South Lanarkshire. It is said to have about 152 turbines, generating around 450 megawatts of capacity and it is one of the largest onshore wind farms in Europe. Its newer efforts include the 156-megawatt Griffin project in Perthshire, Scotland as well as two more in Northern Ireland.
Scotland’s Energy Minister Mr. Fergus Ewing, released a statement earlier this year saying that he was “relentlessly positive for 2012.” He also talked about the future of Scotland as a renewable energy capital. The development of this sector will act to create jobs and opportunities for Scottish communities.
He said, “In 2012 we will introduce a community benefit register to help all of Scotland’s communities to ensure they reap the benefits of the renewable energy revolution, as well as reinvigorating the support we offer under our CARES scheme to encourage more local and community ownership of renewable energy.”
The renewable energy sector is also a means to “reindustrialise Scotland” and also to ensure that the young people of the country are able to gain skills needed to work in the sector. Scotland has had a history of oil and gas drilling, so the energy ministry wants to ensure the of transfer of “valuable skills and knowledge of years of experience to the renewable energy sector.”
Scotland’s ambitious target of being completely renewable by 2020 will definitely have its challenges but with one stellar year and another one on the go, they may not be very far off from meeting it. Many traditional occupations in Scotland like fishing, handlooms are under threat and renewable energy can help give communities a new lease of life. If all goes according to plan, Scotland should be well on its way to transforming itself as one of the leading renewable energy centers of Europe.
Image Credit: Akhila Vijayaraghavan ©