Scotland beats its own renewable energy target, expects lower electricity prices in the future

35% of the electricity generated in Scotland came from renewable sources in 2011, according to figures published by the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change. This puts Scotland ahead of its intermediary target of 31% renewable energy by 2011. The country plans on generating the equivalent of 100% of its energy from renewables by 2020.

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing welcomed the news: “It’s official: 2011 was a record breaker with enough green electricity being produced in Scotland to comfortably beat our interim target. And Scotland met almost 40%of the UK’s renewables output in 2011, demonstrating just how much the rest of the UK needs our energy.”

Scotland’s achievement serves as a powerful demonstration of how a nation blessed in renewable energy resources can effectively harness its potential, and gives one pause when considering why certain Australian political figures have recently called for the Australian Renewable Energy Target to be scrapped or scaled back. Beyond climate change considerations, economic foresight plays a significant role in the country’s drive to shift to renewables. Scotland is keenly aware of its vulnerability to the rising cost of electricity generation from fossil fuels, which generally need to be imported. Scotland’s case can be seen as a comparison to Australia’s, which is blessed with abundant sunshine, wind, and open space but has not yet begun to seriously harness its renewable natural natural resources.

Scotland’s move to renewable energy is also expected to bring down electricity prices in the long-run. When contrasted to a ‘business as usual’ scenario (i.e. all power met using fossil fuels), electricity prices under the 100% renewables scenario are projected to be nearly 100 pounds less per year in 2020.

In addition to the strong encouragement of renewably generation (mostly hydropower and wind power, but also including a growing segment of ocean wave power), Scotland’s success can be attributed to its growing energy efficiency endeavours. Dr Sam Gardner, senior climate change policy officer at WWF Scotland, pointed out that “while attention has been focused on renewable electricity, we need to step up efforts on energy efficiency. With over 50% of our climate change emissions coming from heating buildings, more also needs to be done to support greater renewable heat technologies.”

Top image via Wikipedia, by Ruhrfisch.

© 2012 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

James Martin II