December 2014 will be remembered as being a great month for Renewable Energy in Scotland. First it was announced that in the first six months of 2014 renewable energy was the main source of electricity generated in the country. Then a second announcement the following week stated that for the month of November renewable energy generated more than 100% of our electricity demand.
Now we have a third announcement declaring that just under 12 million tonnes of CO2 emissions in Scotland were displaced by renewable energy in 2013, the most recent year that we have data for. This reduction is the highest ever achieved in Scotland and the announcement has come at a time when most of the world have been attempting to come to an agreement on future carbon emissions at the climate talks in Lima, Peru.
These new figures were published in response to a Parliamentary Question tabled by Eilidh Whiteford MP and answered by UK Energy Minister Amber Rudd MP. The answer stated that 11.9 million tonnes of CO2 was displaced by generating electricity from renewable sources in 2013, a rise of 14% on the 2012 figures.
Joss Blamire, Senior Policy Manager at Scottish Renewables, said: “This means that not only are renewables now the number one source of electricity in Scotland, but we have achieved this milestone while preventing a record amount of harmful carbon emissions from being released into our atmosphere.
“Renewable energy in Scotland is doing exactly what it was designed to do: creating jobs, securing our energy supplies and, most importantly, reducing our carbon emissions to help limit climate change.”
Speaking from the UN’s Climate Change Conference in Lima WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “That renewables in Scotland are now helping to displace almost a million tonnes of climate pollution every month is fantastic news, and proof that a renewable power sector is the foundation of a truly low carbon economy – keeping the lights on, creating jobs and cutting emissions.
“Right now, governments from almost 200 countries are meeting in Peru to agree how they will reduce global emissions and prevent the worst impacts of climate change.
“The growing success of renewables in helping to cut emissions both in Scotland and across Europe is exactly what is needed right now to help encourage other countries to secure a good deal on climate.”
This great news demonstrating once again that Scotland’s commitment to renewable energy is reaping rewards on every level. It can out supply all other generation sources, with the right conditions it can provide 100% of our electricity needs and all at the same time vastly reduce our carbon footprint.
Sticking with Scotland but on a local scale community groups in the Outer Hebrides in Scotland are harnessing the natural resources for a significant local gain and have recently reached a major milestone with the instillation of 10.5MW of community based energy developments with an additional 11MW due in 2015.
Five Community Trusts, aided by trade body Community Energy Scotland, have installed a number of large scale wind turbines throughout the islands with the income generated to be used to help deal with fuel poverty, transport, and housing.
Last week, Community Energy Scotland hosted a local event in Stornaway showcasing the successes of the project so far. Speaking prior to the event Kathleen Macdonald of Community Energy Scotland said: “Community energy projects were the first to install large scale renewables on the islands and have been at the forefront of renewable developments across Scotland.
“This is a great opportunity for the Development Trusts to showcase what they have achieved and to inform and inspire other communities and the general public.”
This event covered many of the aspects associated with community wind projects including the experiences which groups such as Horshader Community Development in Shawbost went through to get their turbine installed. This will comprise of sessions covering subjects including local energy economies and how these can assist in the instillation of renewable energy developments and the proposed Energy Supply Company which will have the aim of selling the locally generated electricity to domestic markets.
Also representatives of Urras Energy (part of Galson Estate) were on hand to explain their share offer opportunity and how anyone can invest. The event also highlighted projects which Trusts such as Coimhearsnachd Bharraidh agus Bhatarsaidh were able to fund, as well as the successful application process they went through.
There can be no doubt that renewable energy in Scotland is a 21st century success story. Promoted and encouraged by both Scottish and UK Governments, driven by a dedicated industry and supported by the entire nation it has grown to become an essential component of our energy mix. However it is a story that is no more than half complete. In order to build on what have already achieved we must continue to promote, encourage, drive and support renewable energy in this country. The output is proven to be sustainable which in turn makes the environmental and economic benefits tangible.