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BLOG: 2018

Posted on 29/12/2018 by Nick Sharpe

2018 was another year of highs and lows for Scotland’s renewable energy industry.

A cold winter, capped by the Beast from the East, saw wind pull out all the stops to support our energy system when its output was needed most.

Offshore, tidal surpassed all expectations, while floating wind continued to prove its worth.

Hydro suffered low outputs from a hot summer in which solar thrived.

And the policy landscape, too, has been marked by highs and lows – but more on that later.

Those of you who attended another sell-out Scottish Green Energy Awards at the start of this month will have heard me say that through all this it’s been the industry’s ability to adapt which has really impressed.

Public support for renewables has peaked at an all-time high, particularly for our most mature technologies.

Onshore wind held its place as a key player in the energy system, with load factors of 69% playing a crucial role meeting a surge in power demand through the Beast from the East at the beginning of March.

Wind then set a new UK power record in November as the Western Link cable from Ayrshire to Merseyside allowed more renewable power than ever to flow south to English consumers.

Solar generation levels soared as the sun baked Scotland through a long, hot summer which hit hydro hard, but we celebrated more days without coal than ever before on the UK system.

Orbital Marine Power is maintaining Scotland’s place as world leaders in this technology, with its SR2000 tidal energy device in Orkney producing more power in 12 months than every other in the history of the sector.

Offshore wind delivered some phenomenal outputs. The world’s first floating wind farm, Hywind Scotland, generated more energy than predicted through savage winter storms, paving the way for more innovative developments, while in Aberdeen Bay an offshore wind farm more than a decade in the planning is finally producing power.

The mix of renewable energy which we enjoy in Scotland – and the weather which creates it – is our great strength.

Renewables are now producing more of our electricity than ever before, with the equivalent of 70.1% of the power consumed in Scotland in 2017 coming from green sources, according to official statistics released just before Christmas.

In 2018 we’ve seen the economic benefits of embracing the shift to a low-carbon future continuing to develop.

The energy system of the future is increasingly about how smart and local power and heat can work alongside large, national projects. Renewables is at the heart of that, helping to create new, productive places - driving jobs and investment in some of the most rural and remote areas of the country.

But it’s not all good news.

Onshore wind and large solar – the cheapest ways of producing electricity – remain locked out of the energy market.

There’s uncertainty for the future decarbonisation of our heat system – which makes up more than half of the energy used in Scotland.

The year ends on a low with the closure of the Feed-in Tariff, through which small-scale renewable energy is supported, confirmed for March.

This closure jeopardises our ambitions for small-scale renewables, community-owned energy and the smarter, cleaner energy system which we need to fight climate change.

The right government support can provide our industry with the certainty businesses need to secure investment.

With that support, alongside Scotland’s incredible innovation, commitment and the passion of those working in our industry, renewable energy can continue to deliver the economic benefits of a low-carbon future.

Blog by Claire Mack, Chief Executive, Scottish Renewables

Nick Sharpe

Director of Communications