Scotland’s renewable electricity capacity has shown steady growth over the last few years with the average annual capacity increase over 800MW since the end of 2009.

Chart 1: Total Installed Capacity of Renewable Electricity in Scotland 2009-2019

Chart 1 2009 2019 (Q3)

Source: Historic Regional Statistics and BEIS Energy Trends

Chart 2 sets out the current mix of renewable electricity generation capacity in Scotland. With the total now nearly 12GW, the sector is over three times bigger than it was at the end of 2009. Onshore wind is the biggest single technology, accounting for 70 per cent of installed capacity, while offshore wind, hydro and solar are Scotland’s other major sources of renewable power.

Chart 2: Current Installed Capacity of Renewable Electricity (Q3 2020)

Chart 2 Q3 2020(MW)

Source: BEIS Energy Trends

Planning Pipeline

There is significant additional capacity in development across Scotland, with projects either in planning or already consented totalling 13.9GW. Capacity increases in the short term will come from onshore wind, with 4.3GW of capacity already consented and a further 4.1GW in planning. Offshore wind has 2.7GW already consented. There is also 355MW of solar projects at various stages of development and 350MW of wave and tidal projects either in planning or already consented.

Chart 3: Pre-operational Capacity of Renewables Projects

Chart 3 (Q3 2020)

Source: Scottish Energy Statistics Hub

Wind project planing pipeline

Renewable energy projects must receive planning consent before construction can begin. Visibility of projects’ place in the planning process can aid supply chain companies which are looking to invest or upskill, so Scottish Renewables has made refined data from the UK Government for onshore wind and offshore wind projects in Scotland available here.

Data is updated quarterly in line with the UK Government’s schedule.


The growing capacity of renewables has translated into a significant increase in renewable electricity output, which has more than tripled from 8,003GWh in 2007 to 30,521GWh in 2019.

Chart 4 shows that renewable electricity generation is now equivalent to approximately 90 per cent of Scotland’s electricity consumption. 

​Chart 4: Electricity Consumption and % Renewables Output

200406 Gross Electricity Consumption and % Renewables Output

Source: Scottish Energy Statistics Hub

Chart 5 shows output from different sources in 2019. Wind generated two thirds of all renewable electricity output in Scotland.

Hydro power contributed almost a fifth of renewable electricity output. While other technologies such as biomass and marine energy currently make a smaller contribution, they have massive potential for growth in the future.

Chart 5: 2019 Renewable Electricity Output by Technology

200702 Chart 5 Output by technology 2019

Source: BEIS Energy Trends

Chart 6 shows that the proportion of the country’s power generation from renewables has also grown significantly in recent years. The 2019 figures show that renewables was once again the single largest contributor to electricity generation in Scotland.

Chart 6: Electricity Generation in Scotland by Fuel

Chart 6 (GWh) 2009 2019

Source: Scottish Energy Statistics Hub


Renewable energy is one of the best tools we have to combat climate change.  As the proportion of renewable electricity in Scotland grows it gradually displaces the need to generate electricity from polluting fossil fuels, reducing total carbon emissions. The chart below sets out estimates of CO2 emissions displaced by renewables from 2009 to 2019.

Chart 7: Emissions Reduced by Scotland’s Renewables Electricity Output

201007 Emissions Displaced by Renewables

Source: Scottish Energy Statistics Hub


Chart 8: Renewables Turnover in Scotland in 2017

200406 Renewables Turnover in Scotland 2017

Source: ONS UK environmental accounts: Low carbon and renewable energy economy survey, final estimates : 2017.

Turnover from renewable energy activity in 2017 was £5,544 million, demonstrating how the sector continues to be an important driver of investment at a time of slow economic growth.


Chart 9 sets out the current mix of renewable heat generation capacity in Scotland. 2,040 GW of renewable heat capacity was operational in Scotland by the end of 2019, which is up 2 per cent from 2018. Biomass accounts for 63 per cent of the total capacity followed by biomass combined heat and power which accounts for 18 per cent of the total.

Chart 9: Renewable Heat Capacity by Technology in Scotland 2019


Source: Energy Saving Trust – Renewable Heat in Scotland 2019

In 2019, 4,489GWh of heat was produced from renewable sources; total heat output has increased by 5 per cent from 2018.

Chart 10: Renewable Heat Output by Technology in Scotland 2019


Source: Energy Saving Trust – Renewable Heat in Scotland 2019

Progress towards Scotland’s 2020 renewable heat target is calculated by measuring renewable heat output as a percentage of annual heat demand. Renewable heat generation represented 6.5 per cent of Scotland’s non-electrical heat demand in 2019.

Chart 11: Progress Towards the 2020 Heat Target


Source: Energy Saving Trust – Renewable Heat in Scotland 2019


The Office of National Statistics (ONS) publish an annual survey on the low carbon and renewable energy economy in the UK, including direct and indirect activity, employees and turnover.

The survey found that in 2017, there were 17,700 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees in renewable energy in Scotland.

Chart 12: Renewables Employment in Scotland

200406 Renewables Employment 2017

Source: ONS: Low carbon and renewable energy economy indirect estimates


Achieving our net-zero target will require petrol and diesel cars to be phased out: current rules state all new conventional petrol and diesel cars and vans will be banned from sale from 2030.  That means the network infrastructure to achieve this ambition must be developed – along with the clean electricity needed to provide those vehicles with power. Renewables will play an important role in supplying the increased electricity demand from electric vehicles.

Chart 13 shows the number of electric vehicle charging points in Scotland by year. In 2019, Scotland had 1,226 public charging points on the ChargePlace Scotland network (CPS), which is up 524 charging points from 2017.

Chart 13: Electric Vehicle Charging Points in Scotland


Source: Transport Scotland: Scottish Transport Statistics, Chapter 13