The combustion of fossil fuel, especially coal, is a major contributor to carbon dioxide emissions. Carbon dioxide is one of a basket of six greenhouse gases that the UK is committed to reduce under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009.7
In 2011, Scotland generated 51,223 GWh of electricity, 2.5% greater than in 2010. Renewable electricity generation increased by approximately 43% over this period, accounting for 27% of the total generated. The increase since 2000 is mainly the result of a rise in the amount of electricity generated by wind power. Hydro generation accounted for 39% of Scotland's renewable electricity generation in 2011 and was up 61% on 2010 levels due to wetter weather. Scotland generated 13,728 GWh of electricity from renewable sources in 2011. This equated to 36% of the gross consumption8 of electricity in Scotland, compared with 12% in 2000 and 24% in 2010. The Scottish Government has set a target for renewable sources to generate the equivalent of 100% of Scotland's gross annual electricity consumption by 2020. An initial interim target of 31% set for 2011 has been replaced with a new interim target of 50% set for 2015.
Fossil fuels accounted for 39% of Scotland's electricity in 2011. Coal and gas are the two main fossil fuels used for electricity generation, with oil used to a lesser extent. There was a slight upward trend in generation from gas and oil between 2005 and 2008, but this dropped in 2009, and in 2011 reached its lowest level in the 2000s. The mix of fossil fuels used in any year is affected by relative fuel prices. Electricity generated by coal decreased by 27% in 2011 compared to 2010.
Nuclear power does not emit greenhouse gases although its use raises other environmental issues, including the long-term disposal of spent fuel. In 2011, 33% of electricity generated in Scotland was from nuclear power stations, compared with 31% in 2010. Scotland's two nuclear stations both currently have a decommissioning date of 2023. No new nuclear power stations are currently planned.
Email: Callum Neil
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