A 20% increase in electricity generated from wind and a 50% increase in hydro generation, renewable energy’s two most advanced technologies, in 2013 has meant that overall electricity generation from renewable sources in Scotland has risen once again, up 30% on 2012.
These figures estimate that renewable energy generated a record breaking 46.4% of gross electricity consumed in Scotland, significantly up from 2012’s final figure of 39.9%, and indicated that Scotland is firmly on track to meet its 2015 target of 50% of electricity from renewable sources.
Scotland’s Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “2014 is on track to be another record year for renewable electricity generation in Scotland, with 30 per cent higher generation in the first half of 2014 compared to the same period last year, demonstrating that renewable generation continues to go from strength to strength in Scotland.
“Scottish renewable electricity made up 32 per cent of the UK’s renewable energy generation in 2013 and we continue to be a net exporter of electricity.
“Energy efficiency sits at the top of our energy hierarchy and the progress being made is welcome.
“Harnessing Scotland’s vast energy wealth has multiple benefits – reducing our carbon emissions, creating jobs and investment and improving the energy security of Scotland and the rest of the UK. And of course communities the length and breadth of Scotland are also benefitting from millions of pounds of community benefit funding. We are committed to making Scotland a leading low carbon investment destination, delivering growth from the growing low carbon sector and ensuring communities across Scotland can benefit from the opportunities that the transition to a low carbon economy brings.
“The Scottish Government has made its energy policy a top priority and has achieved great progress, despite being limited in terms of its devolved responsibilities. We look forward to proposals for more powers encompassing the necessary levers to deliver Scottish priorities.”
Also announced were the figures for renewable heat generation in Scotland in 2012. This was 3.0% of the country’s non-electrical heat demand, up from 2.7% in 2011 and indicating that things are heading in the right direction. However despite the progress shown, Scotland’s 2020 renewable heat target remains worryingly out of reach with a government target of 11% by 2020 according to Stephanie Clark, Policy Manager at Scottish Renewables.
“While Scotland has made great strides towards its 100% 2020 renewable electricity target, our objective of generating 11% of heat from renewables remains worryingly out of reach,” she commented.
“Renewable heat has been left behind. Half the energy we use goes on creating warmth, but a sector which has such an important role to play in combating climate change and reducing fuel poverty is not even considered important enough to be included as one of the Scottish Government’s National Indicators of progress.
“Currently we just do not see the capacity coming forward which will allow us to hit the 2020 target and capitalise on the reductions in fuel poverty and carbon emissions which achieving it would bring.”
She added: “Positive moves are being made, but more needs to be done to raise awareness of the benefits of renewable heat and ensure the sector is at the top of the political agenda if we are to succeed in hitting our climate change targets.”
Earlier this year the introduction of the domestic element in the Renewable Heat Incentive provided financial incentives to homeowners to install renewable technologies. Also, the Scottish Government’s Heat Generation Policy statement, due in the first quarter of 2015, is to provide a detailed industry roadmap.
Just over 45% of gross electricity from renewable sources is a wonderful achievement and one which everyone associated with can be very proud of. The overall target of 100% of gross electricity from renewable sources by 2020 is well within our sites and if we continue to build upon what has already been accomplished, we believe that reaching this target will only be a matter of time.
However we agree with Scottish Renewables that more has to be done with regards renewable heat generation. Almost half of our energy needs are for heat so to see generation from renewable sources lagging behind is disappointing, especially when we are doing so well in other areas. The Heat Generation Policy Statement published by the Scottish Government this year does demonstrate how low carbon heat can reach businesses and households plus offers a framework for investment in this field however more must be done soon if we are to be as successful here as we are in renewable electricity generation.
There was further good news for renewable energy in Scotland as a new community wind farm on the Isle of Lewis has been named a breakthrough project after receiving confirmation that Santander Bank will fund £11m of the costs of the development.
Over its lifetime of 25 years the Beinn Ghrideag wind farm is expected to produce over £45m of income from an initial £15m of costs. All the profit from the development will be reinvested into key community projects including the insulation of 350 homes, funding the local hospice, creating full time employment for at least 100 young adults and renovating the nearby villages.
The building, operating, and maintaining of the wind farm will create at least three full time jobs and also will help to sustain up to four further jobs in the local maintenance support unit.
Due for completion in September 2015, the farm was developed by the Point and Sandwick Development Trust (PSDT), with additional funding from the Renewable Energy Investment Fund and BIG Lottery.
Commenting on the project, Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “Our ambition is for communities across Scotland to share in the rich economic and social rewards of our country’s outstanding renewable resources. Community and local ownership of renewable energy is a high priority for the Scottish Government and is an intrinsic part of our Renewables Routemap for Scotland.
“Point and Sandwick is exemplary of the huge benefits that local energy ownership can bring, supporting the needs of the community for decades to come, whilst creating and securing jobs, underpinning regeneration and funding energy efficiency improvements for hundreds of local people.”
The Scottish Government’s community energy strategy, which has a target of 500MW of locally owned renewables by 2020, regards this development as an important stage in reaching its objective. Also Community Energy Scotland commissioned a report which found that for each 900KW turbine at the site could generate income for the local community of £10,000 from construction, £20,000 from operation and management and £125,000 from the electricity generated per year.
We are excited about community wind farm projects at ILI Energy and believe that more should be done to offer and promote them throughout the country. We have spoken before about the benefits that onshore wind developments can bring to the local communities however this is taking it step further and investing a large percentage of the income back into the community. Previously community wind projects have been at most on a medium scale however with large financial institutions like Santander now involved communities like those on the Isle of Lewis can look to benefit to a more substantial level from the resources around them.
Everyone on the planet benefits from clean renewable energy but those that live closest to the developments should benefit more and with projects like Beinn Ghrideag this is now happening to a level higher than ever before.