Scotland unveils 50% renewable energy goal for 2030

Scotland's new target to deliver 50% of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2030 has been hailed as a "landmark moment" in the country's low-carbon transition.

The new goal was unveiled yesterday (24 January) as part of a consultation on the first Scottish energy strategy, which sets out a 2050 vision for Scotland to have a “modern, integrated” energy system based on low-carbon sources.

Scottish Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy Paul Wheelhouse said: “The decisions we make about Scotland’s energy future are among the most important choices we face as a society. Safe, reliable and affordable energy underpins the continued growth of the Scottish economy, and safeguards the delivery of key services upon which individuals and communities depend.”

‘Landmark moment’

The ambition will require a drastic upheaval of the proportion of renewable sources in Scotland’s energy consumption of the heat and transport sectors, which fall well short of the new target and currently stand at 6% and 4% respectively.

The draft strategy seeks business insight on key issues such as innovation in offshore wind, the potential for large-scale storage, a renewed focus on energy efficiency and the use of emerging energy sources such as hydrogen. The establishment of a Scottish Government-owned energy company was also proposed, as is the potential role of renewable energy bonds.

Ministers revealed that details of a £50m fund for 13 low-carbon, heating and storage projects across Scotland will be announced next month. The publication has been welcomed by green campaigners as a detailed plan which sets out a clear vision for Scotland’s transition to a low-carbon economy.

“This is a landmark moment in Scotland’s transition to a low-carbon economy,” Scottish Renewables policy director Jenny Hogan said. “The new draft strategy shows that Scotland is serious about building on the fantastic progress made in renewable power.”

According to WWF Scotland climate and energy policy officer Gina Hanrahan, the new energy target sends a “strong message to business and industry, both here and globally, that Scotland plans to build on its amazing progress on renewable electricity in the heat and transport sectors”.

Meanwhile, Aldersgate Group director Nick Molho commented: “The proposal for 50% of all energy to be generated from renewables by 2030 will set an important long term signal that businesses can respond to with affordable investment and innovation.”

Long-term plan

The strategy underpins key aspects of the Scottish Government’s Climate Change Plan which was published last week.  The plan contained new proposals to achieve a 66% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2032, after the country surpassed its 2020 targets six years early.

Scotland revelled in a “landmark” year for renewable energy generation in 2016, thanks in part to large strides in wind and tidal energy generation.  Now, green groups are calling for the country to go further and “blaze the trail” for global pollution-free power by implementing a national 50% renewable energy target.

George Ogleby

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