Scotland’s 50% renewables target by 2030 ‘necessary and achievable’

Green groups, environmental charities and politicians from across Scotland have welcomed a new report which claims that a 50% renewable energy target by 2030 is necessary and achievable for the nation.

The report from WWF Scotland, Friends of the Earth and RSPB Scotland outlines the key governmental actions that will need to be taken to hit the 50% target, which it refers to as the most cost-effective method of meeting Scotland’s broader climate goals.

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “This report shows that a 50% renewables target for all of our energy needs by 2030 is not only needed, but that it is achievable. 

“Ministers should now make this a Scottish Government target and bring in the policies needed in its forthcoming energy strategy. Doing so would enable Scotland to enjoy the many economic and social benefits that the report suggests would take place as result of generating half of all our energy needs from renewables.

 “Scotland is already seeing the economic and social benefits of shifting our electricity system to clean, climate-friendly, renewables generation. However, with electricity accounting for just one quarter of our energy use, it’s time to begin to reap the same benefits by increasing the use of renewables in our heat and transport sectors.”

Action points

The report identifies specific policy targets that the Scottish Government should implement in order to reach the 2030 target. Achieving these individual goals would result in job creation, warmer and healthier homes and cleaner air, according to the researchers.

Key actions include: ensuring 40% of Scotland’s heat is generated from renewables in 2030, representing a 4% increase from current figures; and aiming for one in three cars and half of buses to be fully electric, with 18% of all transport energy ultimately coming from renewables.

Commenting on these targets, senior policy officer at RSPB Scotland Alexa Morrison said: “Bringing down the emissions of our whole energy system, including strong action on heat and transport, is crucial to protect our natural environment from climate change. We know that, if we plan the roll out of renewables carefully to avoid our most sensitive places for wildlife, we can meet these targets in harmony with nature.”

The other targets detailed within the report are: to introduce a national energy efficiency programme that will reduce overall energy use by 20%; and to have 143% of the country’s electricity generated by renewables, with substantial green energy exports then going to the rest of the UK.

Summarising the benefits of these targets, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland Richard Dixon said: “This report shows that investing in tackling climate change brings many other benefits, including helping create jobs in low-carbon sectors, improving people’s living conditions and cleaning up the toxic traffic pollution that blights our towns and cities. Any way you look at it, a rapid transition to renewable energy makes sense.”

‘Unrealised opportunities’

The report has been welcomed by the Scottish Green Party, which suggests the figures are “achievable” as long as the Scottish Government continues its current support for renewable energy projects. MSP and climate & energy spokesperson for the Scottish Greens Mark Ruskell said: “What Scotland has to do to meet its climate targets by 2030 have been clearly set out in this report. The findings are more than achievable, so long as the government shows enough ambition and determination to adopt the recommendations.

“Renewable heat remains one of our biggest unrealised opportunities in terms of creating jobs, tackling fuel poverty and cutting emissions. Countries like Denmark who didn’t have access to cheap North Sea Gas in the 70’s invested heavily in district heating and are now reaping the rewards. We need to catch up fast.

“Green MSPs will apply constructive pressure to the Scottish Government to achieve these aims, just as we did with the rejection of underground coal gasification last week. This is the time to concentrate our efforts in developing renewables. It was reported that on one windy day this summer, wind turbines covered all of our electricity needs and we already know that Scotland is ‘the undisputed world leader’ in tidal energy.”

Low-carbon heat and transport targets were highlighted as priority areas of for the whole of the UK earlier this year by the Energy and Climate Change Committee (ECC). The UK is currently off track with 2020 targets for renewables to provide 12% of heat and 10% of transport energy demands – both sectors currently have around 5% of renewable energy in their power mix.

Meanwhile, Scotland’s renewable electricity sector continues to go from strength to strength. Last week, WWF Scotland reported an “astonishing month” for renewable energy performance. September saw record-breaking solar and wind power levels across the country, with wind turbines generating enough energy to meet all of Scotland’s energy requirements for two separate days.

Alex Baldwin


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