Scotland Commits to More Renewable Energy

Scotland wants 18 percent of its energy needs to come from renewable energy sources by 2010.

EDINBURGH, Scotland, UK, 2001-04-12 <> The Scottish Executive issued a consultation paper on renewable energy policy last year to obtain views on how best to meet the commitment. Last November, it published revised planning policy guidance on development of renewables as under the ‘National Planning Policy Guideline 6.’ The British government has announced its plans to stimulate the development of the renewable energy industry and to obtain 5 percent of the country’s electricity from renewables by 2003, and 10 percent in 2010, subject to some conditions. The policy has five key aims, which include reducing greenhouse gas emissions, providing diverse and sustainable energy supplies, stimulating the development of new technologies from renewables, helping the domestic renewables industry to become competitive at home and in export markets, and to make a contribution to rural development. The Department of Trade & Industry published consultation document on its Renewables Obligation in October, proposing that the obligation place new statutory requirements under the Utilities Act 2000 on all suppliers in England and Wales. The promotion of renewable energy under the Act is devolved to the Scottish Executive, allowing Scottish Ministers to set a separate obligation for Scotland and to exclude certain technologies. The consultation paper elicited 150 responses, with one third strongly supporting the 5 percent target, but half calling for a greater increase. Only two respondents felt the ROS was unnecessary, while one called the proposals “deplorable” and said more money should be invested in nuclear power. At least 20 of the responses from private individuals were received as part of a letter campaign orchestrated by the Friends of the Earth. The Renewables Obligation – Scotland (ROS) will oblige all power suppliers to obtain renewables obligation certificates under regulations that are expected to be released this month and to come into effect by October. “Scotland is already well endowed with renewable energy sources,” says the consultation document. More than 1,200 MW of hydro capacity supplies 11 percent of electricity demand depending on rainfall, and 100 contracts have been awarded since 1995 under the Scottish Renewables Obligation (SRO). Despite a slow start, these projects currently meet 1 percent of Scotland’s electricity demand and will rise to 2 percent over the next few years. Two thirds of wind energy applications have been approved in Scotland, much higher than the comparable rate in England and Wales. A draft proposal suggested that legislation require 5 percent to come from renewables by 2010, which would boost the total supply expected from renewables to 18 percent. The proposal was supported by a large majority of respondents, although some wanted the Executive to go for a higher target while others opposed an extension of renewable energy use in Scotland on the grounds that it already met the British government target of 10 percent. Scottish Ministers agreed to set the ROS target to 5 percent, and the legislation will remain in force for 25 years. In contrast with previous arrangements, Scottish Ministers will not direct which specific projects at specific sites will be developed to meet the target, but allow the market to make those decisions. Ministers can specify which technologies will not qualify for support, and have excluded hydro schemes of more than 10 MW net capacity from ROS support on the basis that large hydro is a well established technology. The Ministers have not yet taken a final view on whether energy from waste incineration or from waste gasification should be included or excluded from support, but energy from landfill gas and sewage gas should qualify. The volume of the available Scottish wind resource could sustain a large increase of renewable energy from onshore windfarms, although such sites would require “considerable strengthening” of the grid in the north and west. “There currently may be an opportunity to develop a lead in wave energy and other marine power technology,” and the document suggests there could be an advantage in establishing a home market in that technology. “I am determined that Scotland should play its full part in meeting the UK’s climate change targets, including the 10 percent UK renewables target,” said Environment minister Sarah Boyack when she launched the consultation session last year. “We are aware that a significant increase in the production of renewable energy in Scotland will face particular barriers.”

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