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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 735MW since the end of 2008.


Chart 1: Total Installed Capacity of Renewable Electricity in Scotland 2008-2018

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 10GW, the sector is over three times bigger than it was at the end of 2008.  Onshore wind is the biggest single technology, accounting for 74 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 (Q2 2018)


Source: BEIS Energy Trends

There is significant additional capacity in development across Scotland, with projects either in planning or already consented which total over 12GW.  Again, capacity increases in the short term will come from onshore wind, with over 3.9 GW of capacity already consented and a further 1.9GW in planning. Offshore wind has 3.9GW already consented. There is also 288MW of solar projects at various stages of development and 382MW 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 tripled from 8,215GWh in 2007 to 24,826GWh in 2017.


Chart 4 shows that renewable electricity generation is now equivalent to approximately 68 per cent of Scotland’s electricity consumption. This means that the 2015 50 per cent renewable electricity target has been met and exceeded.
N.B. Electricity consumption data from 2016 was used as a substitute for 2017 data.

​Chart 4: Electricity Consumption and % Renewables Output


Source: Scottish Government - Energy Statistics Summary


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

Hydro power contributed almost 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: 2017 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: Renewables Turnover in Scotland in 2016
Source: Capacity figures from UK environmental accounts: Low carbon and renewable energy economy survey, final estimates : 2016.


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Turnover from renewable energy activity in 2016 was £5,458 million, demonstrating how the sector continues to be an important driver of investment at a time of slow or negative economic growth.


Chart 9 sets out the current mix of renewable heat generation capacity in Scotland. 1,819 MW of renewable heat capacity was operational in Scotland by the end of 2017, which is up 17 per cent from 2016. Biomass accounts for 61 per cent of the total capacity followed by biomass combined heat and power which accounts for 20 per cent of the total.

Chart 09: Renewable Heat Capacity by Technology in Scotland 2017



Source: Energy Saving Trust – Renewable Heat in Scotland 2017

In 2017, 4,598 GWh of heat was produced from renewable sources; total heat output has increased by 24 per cent from 2016.


Chart 10: Renewable Heat Output by Technology in Scotland 2017

Source: Energy Saving Trust – Renewable Heat in Scotland 2017

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 between 5.9 and 6.1 per cent of Scotland’s non-electrical heat demand in 2017.


Chart 11: Progress Towards the 2020 Heat Target

Source: Energy Saving Trust – Renewable Heat in Scotland 2017

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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 2016, there were 16,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) employees in renewable energy in Scotland.

Chart 12: 

NB: The estimate of hydro emploment shown above is from 2015, as hydro employment in 2016 was omitted from the most recent ONS survey for statistical disclosure control reasons.

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

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