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Renewables in Numbers


Scottish Renewables has compiled the key statistics on the development of Scotland’s renewable energy sector from a variety of government and industry sources in order to track the industry’s growing contribution to our energy needs, our economy and our environment.

These statistics are updated on a continuous basis as new data becomes available. Please select a chart on the right hand side to jump directly to it.




Scotland’s renewable electricity capacity has shown steady growth over the last few years with the average annual capacity increase over 705MW since the end of 2008.


Chart 1: Total Installed Capacity of Renewable Electricity in Scotland 2008-2017

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 over 9.6GW, the sector is almost three times bigger than it was at the end of 2008.  Onshore wind is the biggest single technology, accounting for over 73 per cent of installed capacity, while hydro, solar and bioenergy are Scotland’s other major sources of renewable power.

Chart 2: Current Installed Capacity of Renewable Electricity (Q3 2017)


Source: BEIS Energy Trends

There is significant additional capacity in development across Scotland, with projects either in planning or already consented which total over 11.5GW.  Again, capacity increases in the short term will come from onshore wind, with over 3.7GW of capacity already consented and a further 2.6GW in planning. Offshore wind has 4.1GW already consented. There is also 294MW of solar projects at various stages of development and 374MW of wave and tidal projects either in planning or already consented.

Chart 3: Pre-operational Capacity of Renewables Projects 

Source: Scottish Government - Renewable Planning Statistics - Summary Table

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The growing capacity of renewables has translated into a significant increase in renewable electricity output, which has more than doubled from 8,215GWh in 2007 to 19,589GWh in 2016.


Chart 4 shows that renewable electricity generation is now equivalent to approximately 53.8 per cent of Scotland’s electricity consumption. This means that the 2015 50 per cent renewable electricity target has been met and exceeded.

​Chart 4: Electricity Consumption and % Renewables Output


Source: Scottish Government - Energy Statistics Summary


Chart 5 shows output from different sources in 2016. Wind generated almost two thirds of all renewable electricity output in Scotland.

Hydro power contributed over a quarter of renewable electricity output, and 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: 2016 Renewable Electricity Output by Technology 

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 2016 figures show that renewables was once again the single largest contributor to electricity generation in Scotland.

Chart 6: Electricity Generation in Scotland by Fuel
Source: Energy Statistics Database (Scottish Government) and Energy in Scotland 2018

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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 2016.

In 2016 renewable electricity generation displaced approximately 9,400,000 tonnes of CO2, equal to around 21 per cent of Scotland’s carbon emissions in 2015, the most recent year for which carbon emission statistics are available.

Chart 7: Emissions Reduced by Scotland’s Renewables Electricity Output
Source: Renewable Energy: Written question - 45055

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Chart 8: Total Renewables Investment in Scotland in 2015
Source: Capacity figures from BEIS Energy Trends and capital cost estimates from Mott McDonald: Costs of Low Carbon Generation Technologies


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The sector continues to be an important driver of investment at a time of slow or negative economic growth. The value of investments in projects commissioned in each year can be estimated using the total additional capacity in each technology multiplied by estimates of capital cost per MW.

Using this methodology, the table shows projects with a total capital cost of £910.6 million were commissioned in 2015.


Chart 9 sets out the current mix of renewable heat generation capacity in Scotland. 1,693MW of renewable heat capacity was operational in Scotland by the end of 2016, which is up 12 per cent from 2015. Biomass accounts for 61 per cent of the total capacity followed by biomass combined heat and power which accounts for 24 per cent of the total.

Chart 09: Renewable Heat Capacity by Technology in Scotland 2016



Source: Energy Saving Trust – Renewable Heat in Scotland 2016

In 2016, 3,705GWh of heat was produced from renewable sources; total heat output has decreased by 11 per cent from 2015.


Chart 10: Renewable Heat Output by Technology in Scotland 2016

Source: Energy Saving Trust – Renewable Heat in Scotland 2016

Progress towards Scotland’s 2020 renewable heat target is calculated by measuring renewable heat output as a percentage of annual heat demand. Based on 2015 annual heat demand of 77,976 GWh and with renewable heat output estimated to be 3,752GWh, renewable heat generation represents an estimated 4.8 per cent of Scotland’s non-electrical heat demand in 2016.


Chart 11: Progress Towards the 2020 Heat Target

Source: Energy Saving Trust – Renewable Heat in Scotland 2016

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The Office of National Statistics (ONS) published a report, ‘UK environmental accounts: Low carbon and renewable energy economy survey, final estimates : 2016. The survey provides details of the low carbon and renewable energy economy in the UK.

The statistics show that in 2016, excluding Hydro, there were 14,500 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees in renewable energy in Scotland.  This estimate includes direct and indirect activity, but does not include the hydro sector. 

Chart 12: 

NB: People employed in the Hydro sector are not included in this estimatePrevious ONS datasets had estimated there were 12,500 FTE employees in the hydro sector. 

Source: UK environmental accounts: Low carbon and renewable energy economy survey, final estimates : 2016.

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