Scotland generated 21 983 GWh of renewable electricity in 2015, according to the latest round of Scottish Government energy statistics. Using 2014 electricity demand as a proxy for that of 2015 means for the first time Scotland generated more than half (57.7%) of its total electricity demand from renewable sources.
This marks a significant step towards the Scottish Government 2020 target of the equivalent to 100% of Scotland’s electricity demand being generated by renewables and shows substantial growth and progression in Scotland’s renewable industry; in 2003 the figure was just 9%. Wind in particular has contributed to this increase in renewable generation (see Table 1).
|Year||Wind||Hydro||Wave and tidal||Solar PV||Landfill||Sewage||Other biofuels||Total|
Table 1. Annual electricity generation (GWh) from different renewable sources in Scotland since 2000.
Scotland’s excellent wind resource is not the only reason behind growth in the industry; there has been strong political support from the Scottish Government and reliable financial assistance in the form of Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs). ROCs were introduced in 2003, giving a guaranteed level of subsidy to electricity produced by renewables. After the expected lag in the first year of the scheme due to planning and installation times there has been a rapid growth in wind power generated in Scotland (the reason for limited growth from 2009 to 2010 is 2010 was an exceptionally calm year). However, the UK Government is now switching subsidy schemes to one where renewables must enter a bidding process to secure funding. In the offshore wind sector in particular has already led to lengthy project delays.
Another renewable sector which has seen growth but is going to be heavily impacted by a change in subsidy is solar PV. In 2010 the UK Government introduced a generous feed-in tariff system responsible for the increasing penetration of solar PV from that year onwards. However, as mentioned in previous blog posts the feed-in tariffs for some renewables have been slashed, with solar power being one of the most heavily affected technologies; small residential scale solar has seen tariff levels drop from 12.47 p/kWh in December 2015 to 4.39 p/kWh, which has already resulted in a huge reduction in new installations. So despite the halfway mark being reached there are challenging times ahead in the next four years if Scotland is to meet its 100% target.
A full breakdown of the latest energy statistics from the Scottish Government can be found at http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0049/00498583.pdf