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Scotland to Move to 100 Percent Renewables By 2020

GinaMarie headshotWords by Gina-Marie Cheeseman
Data & Technology

Across the proverbial pond there is much development of renewable energy going on. New government figures show that Scotland gets over 40 percent of its electricity from renewables. Published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the data reveals that renewables make up 40.3 percent of gross electricity consumption in 2012, up from 36.2 percent in 2011. Scotland has a target for renewables to generate the equivalent of 50 percent of gross annual consumption by 2015, and 100 percent by 2020. Indeed, the country is on track to meet its targets. The data as of September 2013 shows that Scotland has 6.5 gigawatts (GW) of installed renewable electricity generation capacity, with an additional 4.6 GW of capacity either under construction or planned, namely in wind power. There is also a hydropower potential. According to Highlands and Islands Enterprise, hydropower produces about 12 percent of Scotland’s electricity, and there is “considerable potential” to expand it.

The contribution of renewables to total electricity generation was 26.8 percent in 2011, up from 29.8 percent in 2011. Scottish renewable electricity made up 36 percent of the UK’s renewable energy generation in 2012. UK renewable generation increased 19.1 percent in 2012, mainly from increases in offshore wind and biomass generation. Quarterly data up to third quarter 2013 shows that renewable generation in 2013 is on track to beat 2012. The generation over the first three quarters of 2013 is four percent higher than over the same period in 2012. At the end of third quarter 2013, there was 14.6 percent more installed renewables electricity capacity in Scotland over the year from third quarter 2012.

“These figures show that renewable electricity in Scotland is going from strength to strength, confirming that 2012 was a record year for generation in Scotland and that 2013 looks set to be even better,” said Energy Minister Fergus Ewing. “Today, our publication clearly show the progress that has been made in the last year and the further steps that are being taken to help Scotland achieve the equivalent of 100 per cent from renewable sources by 2020. This is an ambitious target, but achievable as we are already on track to meet our 2015 interim target.”

Levels of fossil fuel output decreased overall by 14.6 percent between 2011 and 2012 and accounted for 34.5 percent of total Scottish electricity generation in 2012. However, the government data also revealed that nuclear and coal generation increased. Nuclear output increased from 33 percent to 34.4 percent. Coal accounted for 25 percent of total generation in 2012, an increase from 21 percent in 2011. Generation from gas decreased from 16.1 percent in 2011 to eight percent in 2012. Across Europe there is a shift towards coal due to high gas prices and low coal prices, plus a low EU carbon price, making coal generation more profitable than gas generation.

Photo: Roine Johansson

Gina-Marie Cheeseman headshotGina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.

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