Sunday, June 28, 2015

Scotland Got Half Its Electricity from Renewables in 2014

Sheep graizing near windfarm (Credit: Flickr/ Gordon Robertson) Click to Enlarge.
New data from the Scottish government shows that the country generated 49.8 percent of its electricity from renewables in 2014, effectively meeting its target of generating half of electricity demand from clean sources by the end of this year.

The milestone means the 50 percent target was met a year early, with overall total renewable generation up 5.4 percent from 2013.  The next benchmark in the government’s plan is to generate enough renewable energy to power 100 percent of the country’s demand by 2020.

Results from the first quarter of 2015 show that growth is continuing at a rapid rate.  Scottish wind farms produced a record amount of power in the first three months of this year, up 4.3 percent from the first quarter of 2014.  The wind farms produced a total of 4,452 gigawatt hours (GWh), enough to power some one million U.K. homes for a year.

Thanks to a massive investment in onshore and offshore wind, Scotland has established itself as a renewable energy leader in the region.  According to the new figures, Scotland’s renewable electricity generation of just over 19,000 GWh made up about 30 percent of the U.K.’s total renewable generation in 2014.  More than half of this came from wind, with nearly another third coming from hydropower.  Only 137.9 GWh came from solar.

While Scotland’s renewable energy sector is currently thriving, prospects are not necessarily as sunny going forward.  Last week the U.K. government, led by recently re-elected conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, announced intentions to end new subsidies for onshore wind farms next April.  Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd said that “onshore wind is an important part of our energy mix,” but that the U.K. now has enough “subsidized projects in the pipeline to meet our renewable energy commitments.”

The U.K. has an overall binding target of getting 15 percent of the energy it uses for heat, transport, and power from clean sources by 2020.  On Thursday, the Department of Energy and Climate Change announced that the share of renewables in 2014 was 6.3 percent, ahead of the interim 2014 target of 5.4 percent.

The amount of electricity generated from renewable sources in the U.K. in 2014 was 64,654 GWh, a 21 percent increase on 2013. The greatest increase in renewable generation came from biomass, which has become a controversial source of power due to the local environmental impacts of logging and the greenhouse gas emissions associated with transporting the fuel, oftentimes from American forests across the Atlantic.  Wind energy still accounted for about half of all renewable generation in the U.K.

Read more at Scotland Got Half Its Electricity from Renewables in 2014

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