Annual energy statement: 2020

This year’s energy statement highlights the key developments in the sector that have influenced the Scottish Government's ability to deliver the targets set out in the current Energy Strategy, published in December 2017.

5. Renewable Energy

Renewable energy target

Target is for 50% of energy for Scotland’s heat, transport and electricity consumption to be supplied from renewable sources by 2030.

21.1% of total Scottish energy consumption came from renewable sources in 2018

Up 1.8 percentage points from 2017

The equivalent of powering and heating more than 1.9 million households in Scotland

Scotland continues to make strong progress towards its key renewable electricity target, i.e. that renewable generation across the country should amount to the equivalent of 100% of Scotland’s gross electricity demand by 2020. In 2019, this figure was 90.1%.

This success remains built on the strong foundation represented by Scotland’s long-established hydro resource, as well as the huge strides over the past two decades in the development of onshore and, more recently, offshore wind.

The potential remains for much more renewable capacity and development across Scotland – not only from the sources mentioned above, but also from the large scale deployment of floating offshore wind, from wave and tidal technologies, solar PV, and generation from Scotland’s islands (which will both require and drive the development of high voltage transmission links from these islands to the mainland).

This year’s consultation on the Contracts for Difference (CfD) mechanism, and the proposals concerning the readmission of onshore wind and solar as well as the treatment of floating offshore wind, are positive steps.

However, there is more that needs to be done; for example, the application of CfD minima for particular technologies should be given serious consideration. This is especially true for wave, tidal and island wind, where the significant resource potential and expertise native to Scotland and the UK presents a tremendous opportunity to lead the world in developing commercial scale projects, and capturing the associated economic and supply chain benefits.

The Scottish Government’s Energy Consents Unit (ECU) have seen the volume of applications for energy infrastructure being made to Scottish Ministers increase substantially over the last two years. 26% of the onshore wind farm determinations made since 2007 were made between 2018-2020. A record 40 wind farm applications are currently under consideration, with a further 58 anticipated over the coming 18 -24 months. ECU continues to respond and transform, to deliver at pace, matching the urgent response of the renewable energy sector to contribute to Scottish Government’s climate change targets.

The development of as much as possible of Scotland’s renewable potential will be crucial to decarbonising energy demand across the whole system. This will be particularly true should the pathways for decarbonising heat and transport demand require, and result in, a large growth in electricity demand, as forecasts suggest this is highly plausible. We will do some further analysis over the coming year to develop scenarios looking at a range of potential contributions that might be required from specific technologies to achieve net zero, based on varying assumptions around electricity demand.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Government, following last year’s consultation, has now published our Offshore Wind Policy Statement – setting out increased ambition for the sector and the key opportunities and challenges associated with achieving that, as well as establishing our belief that as much as 11 GW of offshore wind capacity is possible in Scottish waters by 2030. This coincided with the publication of a new Sectoral Marine Plan for Offshore Wind, and the commencement of a new leasing round from Crown Estate Scotland for new developments in Scottish waters.

We remain committed to maximising the economic returns from the deployment of renewable projects in Scotland and were pleased to announce, earlier this year, measures to increase local content in Scottish offshore wind projects. As part of future applications to Crown Estate Scotland’s ScotWind Leasing, developers will provide a Supply Chain Development Statement laying out the anticipated level and location of supply chain impact from each phase of their project. We are currently considering what the potential consequences for non-compliance with the Supply Chain Development Statement will look like, and further details on the scheme are available from Crown Estate Scotland.

However, we would also hope, and expect, that both the developer and supply chain will benefit from earlier discussion of supply chain opportunities, enabling the Scottish Government and its agencies to support potential contractors to invest and hone their competitiveness with a view to providing strong bids for the work.

The Scottish Government will continue to promote the Scottish supply chain across all renewable technologies, and we expect to see new developments making use of Scottish-based suppliers whenever possible. Over and above this, we remain willing to utilise every lever and regulatory instrument at our disposal to create jobs across the energy sector and to retain large infrastructure contracts in Scotland.

The 50% renewable energy target embodies the Scottish Energy Strategy’s commitment to look across the whole energy system, and the need to decarbonise the energy we use across electricity, heating our homes and buildings, and in meeting the energy needs of our transport systems.

Scotland has made great strides over the past 20 years in decarbonising our electricity sector. However, we know that we will need to achieve similar great strides in decarbonising the energy required across our heat and transport sectors in order to help deliver our interim climate change targets and the Scottish Government’s net zero goal.

This need to decarbonise the whole energy system was a key theme of the Energy Networks Summit held and hosted by the Scottish Government in Glasgow during February 2020. This event represented the fulfilment of a commitment given in Scotland’s Electricity and Gas Networks: Vision to 2030[3], published in March 2019.

Our Networks Vision also committed to create a forum comprising Scottish Government and key energy system stakeholders. That commitment was also fulfilled this year, with the first meeting in January of the Scottish Energy Networks Strategic Leadership Group.

A sub-group of the Scottish Energy Advisory Board (SEAB), the Group is co-chaired by the Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands and Professor Keith Bell of Strathclyde University, and comprises members from Scotland’s gas and electricity networks, the GB gas transmission system owner, GB electricity system operator (National Grid ESO), market regulator (Ofgem), and independent academic and energy consumer representatives.

The Group is taking forward work and actions in key areas, incorporating thinking on future Scottish energy scenarios and the role/influence of local, regional and national Scottish energy priorities and ambitions, based on a set of agreed principles governing strategic network development. The Group has also been able to discuss and offer views on key policy and regulatory decisions, including the crucial RIIO2 price controls, and their effectiveness in enabling Scotland’s energy networks to support and deliver net zero.

The Renewable Energy Strategic Leadership Group is another sub-group of SEAB, and is tasked to provide advice and recommendations on the key challenges and opportunities facing the sector, the options for addressing them, and how the sector may go further to support the Scottish Government’s Energy Strategy priorities.

This Group has replaced the former Renewables Industry Advisory Group (RIAG), and its new structure enables the group to cover all forms of renewable energy for heat, electricity and transport.[4]



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