Reaching the 100% renewable target is now possible, but sustaining it might be trickier

● By Keith Baker, Glasgow Caledonian University ● When the Scottish Government set itself the target of generating 100% of the country’s electricity from renewables by 2020 many people scoffed. Now that goal is only six years away. Is it reachable? Remember that commitment is only for electricity. On the surface the target is ambitious but achievable. In 2010 Scotland generated just short of 50,000 GWh of electricity, of which 19% came from renewables – mostly large scale hydro and wind power. A necessary increase of 80% in 10 years sounds a lot, but even though the future potential for large-scale hydropower is very limited, Scotland could do it. Studies show that the trend is going in the right direction, and the signals from Holyrood are generally positive. Scotland’s geography also helps: it has some of the highest wind and wave potential in the world, and significant untapped potential for small-scale hydropower. All that’s needed is investment and political will – but don’t expect to see every power station shut down. Some will still be needed for export and back-up. Meeting the electricity target is easy while the real target, demand, is falling slowly and predictably, in part because of the economic slowdown. What would happen if that target were to start increasing? Between 2008 and 2009 Scotland’s total energy consumption fell by 7.4%, which is 9.6% against the 2005-2007 baseline. But that says little about the long-term trend – because of the impact of the recession. It’s likely that demand is actually falling more slowly. Reducing demand through energy efficiency and behaviour change is a key part of meeting the target, but those aren’t the only challenges. Scotland’s per capita energy consumption has historically been higher than that of the rest of the UK due to the demand from industry, commerce, and Scotland’s poorer-quality housing stock – and herein lies the real problem ...Zum vollständigen Artikel

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