The significant strides that the Scottish renewable energy industry is making towards addressing climate change were revealed last week in the Scottish Parliament.
Scottish Government Energy Minister Michael Fallon was asked how successful Scotland’s renewable energy developments had been in displacing carbon dioxide emissions in 2012.
His answer revealed that Scotland has managed to displace approximately 10.3 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2012. This represents an increase of 24% from the year 2011. Renewable energy industry body Scottish Renewables would later announce that this level of displacement accounts for just under the total level of carbon dioxide emissions produced from Scotland’s rail and road transport networks. Given that the emission levels from these two networks has remained much unchanged between 2011 and 2012 we can then see that the 24% increase in carbon dioxide displacement can be nearly entirely attributed to the expansion of Scotland’s renewable energy generation capacity. Furthermore, given that the majority of new capacity stems from wind energy we can see that it is Scotland’s wind industry (companies such as ourselves at Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy) which is driving the displacement of carbon dioxide.
Mr Fallon also provided figures for carbon dioxide displacement in England, Wales and the UK as a whole. England displaced 16 million tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2012, Wales 1.6 million tonnes ans as whole the UK displaced around 29 million tonnes. 29 million tonnes of carbon dioxide represents an increase of nearly 38% over 2011. As discussed in last weeks blog nearly all of the UK’s biomass generation is in England. Despite this Scotland accounted for more than a third of the UK’s entire carbon dioxide displacement.
The news was greeted enthusiastically by the renewable energy industry and other interested groups. Scottish Renewables Chief Executive Niall Stuart commented:
“Last week’s climate change report reinforced the need for concerted action to reduce carbon emissions if we are even to limit the impact of global warming, and these figures show that investment in renewables is already delivering results.
“Ten million tonnes is the equivalent of removing 99.1 per cent of carbon emissions generated from every car, bus, lorry and train journey in Scotland.”
“Renewables now generate the equivalent of 40 per cent of the demand for power from every home and business in the country, support thousands of jobs across Scotland and are making a massive dent in carbon emissions.
“The sector is delivering exactly what government wants – jobs, investment and lower carbon emissions from our economy.”
WWF Scotland‘s Director Lang Banks also stated:
“These figures clearly show that renewable energy is making a massive contribution to reducing Scotland’s climate change emissions. This contribution will only continue to grow as we move ever closer to securing all of our electricity from pollution-free sources.
“They certainly nail the lie by those who claim renewables, such as wind power, don’t make a difference. Renewables certainly do make a difference: cutting emissions as well as creating jobs.”
Also, this week a survey conducted by PwC (Pricewaterhouse Coopers) was published, revealing that 94% of energy companies are expecting ‘complete transformation of, or important changes to’ the power utility business model by 2030 as a result of growth in renewable energy and increases in distributed energy generation.
Distributed energy generation marks the move away from power coming solely from large scale power plants or even indeed large scale renewable energy developments. Small and medium scale renewable energy developments (such as those handled by ILI (Renewable Energy)) are becoming increasingly common up and down the country. Whilst the majority of these are providing power into the national grid others are generating power to be used locally; whether by communities or at on-site business developments. Such developments are expected to be become increasingly common in the next few years due to the existence of incentives such as the feed-in-tariff and falling technology and development costs.. PwC’s survey has already identified such developments as eating into the revenues of traditional power generation.
However, it should be noted that 82% of those surveyed view the increased use of distributed power generation to be an ‘opportunity’. Only 18% of those surveyed viewed it as a ‘threat’ to their business. It was also felt that energy-efficiency and smart grid technology could potentially have a similarly transformative effect upon the industry in the future provided barriers on the financial and technological side could be overcome.
PwC’s UK power and utility leader, Steve Jennings urged businesses within the power industry to seize the opportunities such changes present:
“Power utility companies will need to respond to these changes to not be eclipsed by technological and market change, while strategies that identify the best revenue opportunities in changed and, potentially transformed future market landscape, will be key to survival,”
These two pieces of news reveal the transformative effect renewable energy is having not only upon the power industry but this country as a whole. Great strides are being taken, by coompanies such as ourselves, to reduce carbon emissions, increase energy security and insulate the UK energy system from the volatile international fossil fuel markets.