Scotland raises its 2020 renewable targets

The country has already achieved the mid-term 2011 objectives (31% of electricity consumption from renewables, mainly wind power) and is extending to 80% the 50% target for 2020.

By 2020, 80% of electricity consumption in Scotland will be provided by renewable sources. This is the new target set by the Scottish government, replacing the one established in 2007, which required that 50% of electricity consumption should be generated from renewables (with a 2011 mid-term target of 31%).

First Minister Alex Salmond said that Scotland is ideally placed to achieve the 50% target and that it has already achieved the mid-term 31% target. "The capacity that we have installed or is under construction from renewable sources amounts to 7,000 MW – he said – and, taken account of the levels of contracts for offshore projects already granted and of plants for harnessing marine energy, all conditions allow us to consistently increase the previous target that we had set".

Furthermore, Salmond emphasized how the renewable energy sector is producing significant benefits for Scotland regarding the creation of jobs. Mentioning the results of a study performed by Scottish Enterprise, he specified that the renewable market could potentially create up to 28,000 new jobs.

While wind turbines haven’t gotten a great reception in the US, they are becoming quite common in the European Union (EU). In fact, the EU is on track to have one-half of their power from wind farm by 2050. The UK doesn’t want to be left out and may have major plans to expand their renewable energy programs in the rainy and windy hills of Scotland.

Just this past Monday the UK hit a record with 5% of the country’s energy coming from wind energy. According to the National Grid, wind turbines that were largely located in Scotland produced 1,860 megawatts which is around the same amount of juice from four nuclear power plants. That number could jump to 10% if low voltage electricity from smaller wind farms is taken into account. 4

Scotland’s geography makes it a major player in renewable energy because it’s home to about a quarter of all wind power locations in Europe. A plan launched by Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond may make the state-owned utility, Scottish Water, a major star in renewable energy.

The bill would allow Scottish Water to partner with other firms to create wind farms or build hydro-electric power plants. The deal could be huge since Scottish Water already controls 80,000 acres of land and has an impressive pipe network. Some estimate that the publicly owned company could earn an extra $460m a year through the plan.