Scotland's got a roadmap and it's not afraid to use it

By Richard Allen

We hit the road in part 1; but for every journey you need an idea of where you’re heading. The Scottish Government has set a goal: to meet the equivalent of 100 per cent of electricity demand from renewables by 2020. Just by means of comparison: in 2009, 27 per cent of electricity demand came from renewables. That’s a long way we have to go in nine years.

But the renewables revolution is already happening.  

In and around Scotland today, there are around seven gigawatts of renewables capacity either installed, under construction or consented. These will take Scotland beyond the interim target of 31 per cent of electricity demand from renewables by 2011. Here are two recently publicised examples:

  • A new five megawatt (MW) hydro-electric scheme at Loch Eilde Mor, near Kinlochleven has been given the green light by the Scottish Government. It should be able to power 2,400 homes.
  • The Scottish Government has approved the refurbishment of the Innerhadden hydro-scheme in Perth and Kinross, which will upgrade its power output to 1.4 MW.

And it’s not just Scotland’s water that can power the revolution. In August 2011, Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead announced that the new Agri-Renewables Strategy would allow landowners to develop land for renewable energy, to “unlock the green potential”, as he put it. Under the scheme, farmers, crofters and landowners may be able to get help with the planning system and with pre-construction costs. Each project will have the potential to hook up to the national grid. The new strategy is expected to be up and running by summer 2012.

All of these schemes are part of the Scottish Government’s 2020 Roadmap for Renewable Energy in Scotland, the plan which sets out the goal to meet the equivalent of 100 per cent of electricity demand from renewables by 2020. The Roadmap sets down in black and white a list of “targets and implications”, such as:

  • 11% heat demand from renewables by 2020
  • At least 30% overall energy demand from renewables by 2020
  • 500 MW community and locally owned renewable energy by 2020

Underpinning the targets is “the principle of demand reduction”. This is where you and I come in. The higher the demand for electricity, the harder it is to meet the supply. And the best way to reduce demand is through energy-saving measures. Good insulation, efficient boilers, low-energy consumer goods, properly installed microgeneration technology, sound advice for households, fuel-efficient driving, and so on – they are all part of a larger picture. Large-scale hydro-electric schemes will grab the headlines, but we as householders and consumers have the collective clout to make a difference too.