Renewables revolution aims for 100%


The new Scottish Government's 2020 renewable electricity target has been raised to 100 per cent, First Minister Alex Salmond said today as he pledged to move "still faster and further" to secure Scotland's place as the green energy powerhouse of Europe.

Mr Salmond also launched an online portal showcasing Scotland's burgeoning offshore wind sector and announced the signing of a new strategic agreement between the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney and the Fundy Ocean Research Center for Energy (FORCE) in Nova Scotia, Canada, to collaborate on the development and deployment of power generation from the sea.

In a video message to the two-day All-Energy conference opening in Aberdeen today, the First Minister outlined the scale of Scotland's natural resources and range of clean energy developments and investments made in recent years. Scotland's national target for the production of electricity from renewable sources had been to generate the equivalent of 80 per cent of electricity consumption, with a 31 per cent interim target for 2011.

Mr Salmond said:

"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 per cent 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.

"Offshore wind will play a key role in achieving our ambitions so I'm delighted to announce the launch today of Scotland's offshore wind portal: the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands & Islands Enterprise have developed - a single site showcasing what Scotland has to offer to both indigenous industry and new investors in this rapidly emerging sector."

Scotland has an estimated quarter of Europe's offshore wind and tidal energy resource and a tenth of its potential wave capacity. Lease agreements have been secured for offshore wind developments in Scottish waters with the potential to generate around 10 GigaWatts of electricity by 2020, while similar agreements have been signed for six wave and five tidal projects in the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters with a potential capacity to generate 1.6 GW.

The First Minister added:

"Our research and development capability in low carbon energy is growing exponentially. For example, the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney, a world-class testing facility and the first to be grid-connected, will be near full capacity over the coming months. And I am delighted that today at this conference EMEC will be signing a strategic agreement with the FORCE tidal test facility at Fundy in Nova Scotia. That pooling of resources and skills between Scotia Old and Scotia New should move this exciting sector even further forward as we approach the stage where large arrays become a reality. This can help unlock as much as £6 billion of investment, highlighted in a technical report published yesterday, to deliver the world's only commercially-leased wave and tidal projects in the Pentland Firth and Orkney waters."

The EMEC-FORCE strategic agreement will build on EMEC and FORCE's existing assets and help strengthen both organisations capacity for research, including environmental assessment and monitoring, turbine and submarine cable deployment, connection, maintenance, and retrieval.

The Scottish Government is also promoting global innovation in wave and tidal power generation with the £10 million Saltire Prize marine energy challenge. The competition has attracted more than 150 registrations of interest from 31 countries.

Over its previous four-year term, the Scottish Government consented 42 renewable energy projects and in 2009, more than a quarter (27.4 per cent) of electricity demand came from renewables. There are around 7 Gigawatts (GW) of renewables capacity installed, under construction or consented around Scotland, enabling Scotland to exceed its interim target of 31 per cent of Scotland's electricity demand from renewables in 2011.