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Scottish Renewable Energy Production Falls Just Short of 2020 Target

Michael Behr

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renewable energy

With ambitious plans still to reach in 2030 and 2045, Scotland will need to step up its efforts to reach them.

Scotland produced the equivalent 97.4% of its electricity from renewable energy sources in 2020, just short of its 100% target.

When the target was set in 2011, renewable energy technology contributed to 37% of the country’s electricity demand.

Scottish Renewables Chief Executive Claire Mack said: “Scotland’s ambitious climate change targets have been a tremendous motivator to the industry to increase deployment of renewable energy sources, and in the last 10 years alone we have more than tripled our renewable electricity output – enough to power the equivalent of more than seven million households.

“Scotland has some of the most ambitious climate change targets in the world and the Scottish Government’s Climate Change Bill sets out a legally binding target of reaching net-zero emissions by 2045.”

The next target to reach will be in 2030, when Scotland aims to provide 50% of its energy demand for electricity, along with heat and transport, from renewables. At present, Scotland is less than half-way to meeting this goal.

To meet its 2045 target, Scotland will increase adoption of low-carbon technology, plant more trees and ban new diesel and petrol cars in 2030, in line with the rest of the UK.

“Renewable electricity is only a quarter of the picture,” Mack added.

“Domestic and commercial transport accounts for almost 25% of the energy used in Scotland, with heat making up more than half, as well as more than half of its emissions. Currently 6.5% of our non-electrical heat demand is generated from renewable sources. The technologies we need to replace gas in our homes largely exist now but deploying these across the country is an enormous task.”


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In its fourth-quarter Energy Statistics for Scotland Report, the Scottish Government noted that Scotland generated 31.8 TWh of renewable electricity in 2020. This was up by 4.2% compared to 2019.

The report also noted that 2020’s production was equivalent to powering all households in Scotland for almost three and a half years.

However, renewable electricity generation dipped in the last quarter of the year, down 3.1% compared to the same period of 2019. This is despite capacity increasing for the first time since June 2019 from 11.8 GW to 11.9 GW in December 2020.

Wind remains the prime driver of Scotland’s renewable electricity generation. 2020 saw 23.2 TWh of electricity generated from wind. There was growth in the country’s offshore wind sector, with 3.5 TWh generated, up from 3.2 TWh in 2019.

Renewable hydroelectricity accounted for 18.1% of the total.

For the future, Scotland has 14 GW of renewable electricity projects currently in development, with 2 GW currently under construction.

“Scotland’s renewable energy projects are displacing tens of millions of tonnes of carbon every year, employing the equivalent of 17,700 people and bringing enormous socio-economic benefits to communities across the country,” Mack said.

“Industry and government must continue to work together to address the challenges which exist if we are to fully realise our potential, meet net-zero by 2045 and achieve a just energy transition.”

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Scotland’s renewable energy ambitions, and the technology needed to realise them, will be a key area of discussion at the upcoming Digital Energy 2021 Virtual Summit on April 22nd.

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Michael Behr

Senior Staff Writer

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