Scotland is aiming to become one of the world’s leading low-carbon nations by setting a “landmark” target of meeting half its energy needs through renewable sources by the end of the next decade. The aim, set out by the Scottish Government as part of its draft energy strategy on Tuesday, met with cross party approval and was hailed by environmental groups, who said it was an important step towards building a totally green economy.
Under the plans, Scotland will commit itself to meeting 50 per cent of its overall energy needs using renewables by 2030. In 2013 this figure stood at just 13 per cent, so the target is highly ambitious.
As part of efforts to meet the commitment, 13 low-carbon and renewables projects across Scotland have been earmarked for a share of a £50m fund, with the details set to be announced next month.
The target comes after what environmental groups described as a “record-setting” year for Scottish renewables. Last August, the nation’s wind turbines generated more electricity than was used by consumers on a single day for the first time.
Setting out policies and proposals for the heat, transport and electricity sectors, Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse said he wanted to make “more progress” on renewables to ensure that Scotland met its climate change commitments.
“The renewable energy sector, which now employs more than 11,000 people in Scotland…has the potential to grow even further, helping us meet our climate change targets through extending our success in decarbonising electricity supplies,” he added.
Climate change The energy strategy is designed to work alongside the Scottish Government’s climate change plans, which were unveiled last week with the aim of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 66 per cent by 2032.
Another proposal includes exploring the “re-powering” of existing power stations, which could see Longannet in Fife reopen as a coal-fired station through Carbon Capture and Storage.
The possible creation of a Scottish Government-owned energy company, with responsibility for helping the growth of local and community energy projects, will also be examined.
“With 50 per cent of all energy to come from renewables by 2030 and 100 per cent of our electricity well before then, this plan sets us firmly on course to becoming one of the leading low-carbon nations in the world,” said Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland.
Jenny Hogan, director of policy at Scottish Renewables, said the document was “a landmark moment in Scotland’s transition to a low-carbon economy”.
Mr Wheelhouse also confirmed that a public consultation would shortly be launched on the controversial issue of fracking, which is currently subject to a moratorium in Scotland. Environmental groups and some political parties are pressing for an all-out ban.