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“Huge ambition” of new renewable energy target hailed

Posted on 20/12/2017 by Nick Sharpe

A new renewable energy target contained in Scotland’s new Energy Strategy, published today (Dec 20), shows “huge ambition”, according to Scottish Renewables.

The goal, suggested by the industry body in January 2016, will see half of all energy – for heat, transport and electricity – coming from renewable sources by 2030.

Other measures in the new Strategy, launched today in the Scottish Parliament by Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse, include:

  • Setting out two ambitious scenarios for cutting carbon from Scotland’s energy system: one driven by greater electrification of heat and transport, with the second based on hydrogen gas fuelling these sectors;
  • A requirement to almost double Scotland’s renewable electricity capacity (from 9.3 to 17 Gigawatts) by 2030;
  • A target to increase the productivity of energy use across the Scottish economy by 30%;
  • Confirmation of a new, publicly-owned Scottish energy company which will enable the public to invest in renewable energy projects;
  • Confirmation of the £60 million Low Carbon Innovation Fund, announced in last week’s draft Scottish Budget, and a new £20m Energy Investment Fund for low-carbon solutions.

Claire Mack, Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables, hailed the Strategy’s publication, saying: “Scotland’s first Energy Strategy heralds a new era for the energy system used by us all, and provides a roadmap for others to follow.

“For the first time, the Scottish Government has set out a holistic plan for how we produce and use energy, breaking down the barriers between electricity, heat and transport.

“The huge ambition of the new target is to be commended. The Strategy creates a framework for us as an industry, Scotland’s policymakers and the public to think in different ways about energy supply and demand.

“It should also provide much-needed impetus to tackle issues like the decarbonisation of our heat supply, levels of fuel poverty and the challenges presented by the roll-out of electric vehicles.

“Of particular note is the 50% renewable energy target contained in the Strategy, which sends a strong signal to industry that renewables should take its place the heart of our economy.

“Previous targets laid the foundation for the rapid growth of Scotland’s renewable energy industry – an industry which already employs 26,000 people, invests hundreds of millions of pounds every year and displaces the equivalent carbon emissions of our entire transport sector.

“This new target has the potential to do the same not just for the continued growth of our renewable electricity sector but also for heat and transport, where action to decarbonise is urgently needed.”

Renewables currently provide enough power to deliver more than half of Scotland’s electricity demand.

Speaking of the Strategy’s aim of delivering 17GW of renewable energy capacity – a target also suggested by Scottish Renewables – the organisation’s Chief Executive Claire Mack continued: “Our success in deploying renewable electricity generation capacity means carbon emissions from Scotland’s electricity sector have already reduced by more than 13 million tonnes every year, while jobs and investment have been created across the country.

“We’re now well placed to start delivering the clean heat and power which will be needed in future to supply the requirements of the projected decarbonisation of heat and transport.

“Onshore wind, which provides the bulk of our renewable energy capacity – both operating and in development, is not only more popular than ever, but is the cheapest form of new power generation available.

“Our hydro sector, which developed more than 50 years ago, continues to provide clean, reliable power, while offshore wind is finally beginning to deploy at scale off Scotland’s east coast.

“Scotland also boasts a wealth of emerging, innovative technologies like wave and tidal power, heat pumps and smart grids, all of which have huge global potential. We hope to see the newly announced low-carbon innovation and investment funds providing viable channels for these technologies to commercialise and scale-up.

“A doubling of renewable electricity capacity over the coming decade will serve to increase the economic and environmental benefits of all these technologies as well as cementing Scotland’s place as a world leader in renewable energy skills and technology."

Heat makes up more than half of the energy used in Scotland (51%), with a quarter used for transport.

Claire Mack continued: “The two scenarios presented on renewable heat and transport  - underpinned predominantly by electrification or hydrogen - show, again, huge ambition, but also the scale of the challenge we now face.

“The critical decision over which of these two paths Scotland will follow is set to be made in the early 2020s, and renewable energy has the clear potential to underpin either scenario.

“We look forward to working with the Government as it begins to implement one of the most comprehensive plans our energy system has ever seen.”

Nick Sharpe

Director of Communications