Scotland falling short of 100% renewable electricity target

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A new report has shown that Scotland will miss its 100% renewable electricity target without further investment in onshore and offshore wind. The study, published by industry body Scottish Renewables, shows Scotland is on course to generate the equivalent of 87% of its annual demand for power from renewables by 2020, and highlights the need for further support from the UK Government if the target is to be met.

Its release comes amid press reports of a leaked letter from the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change stating that the UK will miss its 2020 renewables targets.

Niall Stuart, Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables said: “Scotland has come a long way in a short space of time, with supportive policies at Westminster and Holyrood delivering an incredible transformation in our electricity industry.  The renewables sector now employs some 21,000 people, is delivering around £1billion pounds of capital investment each year, and has displaced carbon emissions equivalent to the whole of our transport sector.

“The 100% target has provided a powerful focus for government, industry and supporting bodies like HIE and Scottish Enterprise, and really put Scotland’s renewable energy industry on the map.  However, current projections show that we’re not going to meet it unless we get more projects going ahead between now and 2020.

“There are consented schemes onshore and offshore that could get us there, but they can only go ahead if they are allocated a long term contract for their power.

“The industry had expected an auction round for contracts this autumn, but UK ministers postponed that, and we are still unsure if and when that will go ahead which is inevitably impacting on investor confidence across the industry.”

“If we don’t start the process by next spring, the delay could fatally undermine the timeline for the projects on Scotland’s main island groups, ending prospects for major developments on the Western Isles and Shetland.  It would also raise serious questions about whether the proposed offshore wind projects can make the 2020 deadline.

“Essentially it is this simple – if we get an allocation round next spring and enough Scottish projects are successful we can still hit the target.”

The 2020 renewable targets were announced in 2011 by former First Minister Alex Salmond who said at the time: “Because the pace of development has been so rapid, with our 2011 target already exceeded, we can now commit to generating the equivalent of 100 per cent of Scotland’s own electricity demand from renewable resources by 2020.”

Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “Recent announcements by the UK Government represent an attack on the renewables sector, creating huge uncertainty for investors, developers and communities, and undermining Scotland’s ability to fulfil its renewable energy potential.

“Our renewables targets are ambitious and challenging and I am pleased we have seen almost half of our electricity demand coming from renewable sources in 2014. However, I share Scottish Renewables’ concerns that the damaging and premature cuts to support for renewable energy being driven through by the UK Government will hamper future progress.”

Lang Banks, director of WWF Scotland said: “This report makes it clear that the renewables industry urgently needs certainty from the UK Government about future funding if it’s to continue to thrive, create jobs and cut emissions in Scotland. However, the good news is that there’s more than enough renewables projects in the pipeline to hit our 2020 target if funding is secured.

“Making progress on reducing our demand for power would also help to bring the target within reach, while cutting fuel bills for consumers at the same time. That’s why, as we approach the Holyrood elections, we look to all the political parties to set out how they’d help customers and businesses reduce their demand for electricity, as recently recommended by a cross-party committee of MSPs.”

The 2020 target is not legally binding and therefore there are no penalties for missing it.