Back in 2010 Scotland’s First Minister, Alex Salmon, proclaimed that by 2025 all of Scotland would be powered by 100% renewable energy, with an interim target of 31% by 2011. In the past four years the Scottish Government approved 42 renewable energy projects, and in 2009 27.4% of electricity demand came from renewables. Scotland was well on its way to achieving their ambitious targets, despite the doubts from sceptics. 2011 has been and gone and Scotland easily exceeded the goal of 31% causing Minister Salmon to return with a new target; 100% by 2020.
“Because the pace of development has been so rapid, with our 2011 target already exceeded, we can now commit to generating the equivalent of 100% of Scotland’s own electricity demand from renewable resources by 2020. By then we intend to be generating twice as much electricity as Scotland needs -- just over half of it from renewables, and just under half from other conventional sources. We will be exporting as much electricity as we consume. So we will continue to work with industry and Governments at local, UK and European level to build on what we have achieved. We will now move still further and faster to secure our place as the green energy powerhouse of the continent of Europe.”
Currently Scotland boasts 7GW of renewable energy projects, mostly in offshore wind farms, but also in wave and tidal power. In fact they already have an estimated quarter of Europe’s offshore wind and tidal energy resource and a tenth of its potential wave capacity. But in order to achieve 100% clean energy by 2020 a lot of investment is needed. The Department for Energy and Climate Change recently released figures showing that the renewable energy sector received more than £750 million last year, and another £46 billion is to be invested in the construction of 17GW of power in the future. It is all part of the grand plan to become Europe’s renewable energy leader.
Whilst renewable energy is the sector, the Scots are focussing their efforts on offshore wind farms. This will be hugely helped by the recently declared partnership with Masdar, the Abu Dhabi clean energy company. The pooled resources of both institutions will be used to research and advance clean technology development. Salmond acknowledged that "the costs of offshore wind will have to be reduced by 20% to be competitive,” as will the costs of efficiently transporting electricity over long distances. But the aim is clear; the commercialisation of offshore wind farms. It is the big prize, and will give Scotland a strong foothold in one of the most promising industries of the future; which could reportedly be worth $30 billion. Needless to say, Scotland’s hopes are as high as their ambitions.
By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com
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