Scotland outlines plans to double onshore wind capacity by 2030, ramp up regenerative agriculture
On the eve of COP26, the Scottish Government has launched a consultation on a new onshore wind generation target for 2030 and provided new funding for restoring nature on farms.
On onshore wind, Scotland currently hosts the bulk of the UK’s installed generation capacity – 8.4GW. The consultation document outlines proposals to secure at least an extra 8GW of capacity by the end of the decade, and a stretch target of up to an additional 12GW.
Because turbine technology advancements have occurred rapidly in the last decade, resulting in larger and more efficient turbines and reductions in cost, the Scottish Government has stated that the proposed targets are achievable.
It has also stated that new interim targets for renewable generation are likely needed to ensure proper alignment with the UK’s 2050 net-zero target and Scotland’s 2045 net-zero target. Recently confirmed by the UK Government is a requirement for all unabated gas-fired power generation to end by 2035, building on the phase-out of coal-fired power generation in 2024.
Consultation on the proposed targets will close on 21 January 2022. Key points being taken into consideration include supply chain engagement, community support and protecting biodiversity as new wind capacity is installed.
The foreword to the consultation document, penned by Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Net-Zero, Energy and Transport Michael Matheson, reads: “Onshore wind is a cheap and reliable source of electricity generation.
"Scotland’s resource and commitment have seen us lead the way in onshore wind deployment and support across the UK; provisional figures from 2020 show that renewable technologies generated the equivalent of 95.9% of gross electricity consumption, with 58% of that being generated by onshore wind developments. This is a remarkable achievement.
“Our net-zero commitment presents the perfect opportunity to revisit and reassess our original Onshore Wind Policy Statement, published in 2017.”
Onshore wind is by far Scotland’s largest renewable energy sub-sector in terms of installed capacity; the 8.4GW accounts for 70% of its total installed capacity of 70.5%, according to official Government figures.
Also announced by the Scottish Government this week is a National Test Programme for regenerative agriculture, under which farmers will benefit from £51m of investment over a three-year period.
Funding will be spent on establishing baseline figures regarding issues such as soil quality, biodiversity and water use; providing education; purchasing equipment and supporting farmers to carry out ongoing carbon audits and nutrient management plans.
Farmers producing beef, dairy, grains and vegetables are set to participate in this initial programme, which the Scottish Government has stated will help the agri-food sector prepare for changes to the agricultural support payment scheme. From 2025 onwards, the climate and biodiversity performance of operations will determine the level of payment that can be claimed.
The UN has ranked the UK in the bottom 10% of nations globally in terms of remaining biodiversity. Activities including mining, fossil energy production, transport system expansions, housebuilding and urbanisation have all contributed to nature loss as well as intensive agriculture.
Earlier this year, the Scottish Government forged an agreement with the Scottish Green Party Parliamentary Group to ensure that its Covid-19 recovery plans are designed to deliver long-term climate, nature and social targets.