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Scots smash renewable energy targets

By Paul Robinson - 29 Mar 2012 13:21:0 GMT
Scots smash renewable energy targets

By yon bonnie braes, it's a Scottish wind farm. One of many for these weather-beaten shores hills and mountains - Wind Farm Image via Shutterstock

With one third of Scottish energy being created from renewable sources , the government in the form of Fergus Ewing, the Energy Minister, is cock-a-hoop, with prospects from the latest quarterly figures of exceeding 11,343 GWh (gigawatt hours), just as this was 50% over the 2010 total!

Sam Gardner, the Senior Climate Change Officer for WWF (World Wildlife Fund), in Scotland boasted, "It's great news that Scotland has smashed its 2011 renewable electricity target, but it should come as no surprise. We have repeatedly met our renewable goals for previous years and are well on track to hit the 100 per cent 2020 target." With one tenth the English population, Scotland releases two fifths of Britain's renewable energy. South of the border Mr Cameron certainly has some catching-up to do!

Wind generation was at a record high of 7,049 GWh while the traditional Scots hydro-power also reached records at 5,310 GWh. As far as solar power is concerned, there has been a more recent take up because of the FiT scheme, where households can feed in their energy. The total photovoltaic capacity is now 937MW (only about 1% of the total renewable energy.)

Sam Gardner has one or two reservations, despite the great figures. The insulation work that is ongoing throughout UK doesn't entirely satisfy the need to conserve energy at the points where heat is lost. "While attention has been focussed on renewable electricity we need to step up efforts on energy efficiency. With over 50 per cent of our climate change emissions coming from heating buildings, more also needs to be done to support greater renewable heat technologies," explains Sam. This means much more research on heat pumps.

If gas and oil prices rise, and if domestic and public buildings are better insulated, it is possible that electricity could be used extensively for heating, purely on economic grounds. However, in this study, to give a guide as to the additional electricity demand that could be created through electrification of heating, it is assumed - in line with existing Scottish government targets - that just 11% of heat demand will be met by renewable sources by 2020, increasing to 40% by 2030. Using electric heat pumps to contribute to the renewable heat target in this way would increase Scottish gross electricity consumption in 2030 by about 14% and would cut carbon emissions from heat by up to 60%.

It all turns out rosy for the Scottish energy miracle. By 2020, Scotland should be producing more than 100% of their needs from such renewable energy. By 2030, with 183% of projected needs, the canny Scot will be selling his electricity to the unprepared English, or anyone else who pays Scottish pound notes for it.

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Topics: Renewable Energy