After what is being described as a “huge year” for Scotland’s renewable energy industry, experts are calling for the country to commit to a new 2030 target.
WWF Scotland revealed figures earlier this week that showed an incredible 2015 for Scotland’s renewable energy industry — finishing with a record December. According to WWF’s analysis of figures provided by WeatherEnergy, wind energy generated enough power to supply the electricity needs of 97% of Scottish households during 2015, and generated enough to supply over 100% of Scottish household needs during six months in the year. Total wind energy output in Scotland for 2015 was up 16% compared to the year before, providing around 10,392,439 MWh of electricity to the National Grid, with January and December topping out as the year’s biggest generating months.
Solar did its own job as well, meeting half or more of the household electricity or hot water needs during a total of seven months in 2015.
“Without doubt, 2015 was a huge year for renewables, with wind turbines and solar panels helping to ensure millions of tonnes of climate-damaging carbon emissions were avoided,” said Lang Banks, WWF Scotland’s director. “With 2016 being a critical year politically, we’d like to see each of the political parties back policies that would enable Scotland become the EU’s first fully renewable electricity nation by 2030.”
Hot on the heels of the release of these record-breaking statistics, Scottish Renewables, the country’s renewable energy industry trade body, made the bold claim that “Scotland should set an ambitious new target of generating the equivalent of 50% of its total electricity, heat, and transport demand from renewables by 2030”.
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According to the trade body, such a goal would require a threefold increase in green energy generation. This isn’t all that out of the realm of possibility, however, with new figures showing that Scotland is already on track to be more than halfway to that goal by the end of this decade.
“Scotland’s ambitious climate change and 2020 renewable energy targets have signalled a clear intent for the country to lead the way in the transition to a low-carbon economy,” said Niall Stuart, Scottish Renewables Chief Executive. “But with only four years to go, it is now time to look beyond 2020 and for Scotland to set a stretching target for renewables to produce the equivalent of at least 50% of all energy use across electricity, heat, and transport by 2030.”
“Achieving this new target will require strategic leadership from the next Scottish Government,” Stuart added. “The development of a comprehensive and joined-up energy strategy will allow the sector to maintain its competitiveness as well as spearheading the development and deployment of new technologies.”
Specifically, Scottish Renewables is calling on the next Scottish Government to:
- Expand community and local ownership of renewable energy projects though the creation of a Scottish Renewable Energy Bond which would allow savers across Scotland to invest in the growth of the renewables industry while also generating a return on their investment
- Ensure Scotland’s public sector acts as an exemplar and spearheads the growth of renewable energy through a target for renewable energy use in heat, power and transport for public bodies
- Accelerate the growth of sustainable transport by allowing the use of bus lanes, providing free parking, and expanding the provision of charging and re-fuelling points for low-carbon vehicles