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50% renewables target for Scotland

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By 2030 under plans published by the Scottish government, half of Scotland’s heat, transport and electricity energy needs will be met by renewables. In 2013, only 13% of Scotland’s total final energy consumption came from renewable sources. By 2050, the draft Scottish Energy Strategy sets out a vision for the transition away from gas and oil dependency and towards a low-carbon economy. Environmental groups had been campaigning for the 50% target.

The Scottish government set a new target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 66% by the year 2032. Its energy strategy was unveiled by Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse at Holyrood, and it includes exploring the “re-powering” of existing power stations, this could mean that Longannet may reopen as a coal-fired station with Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). It also sets out an ambition for Scotland to be the first place in the UK where onshore wind energy schemes thrive without subsidy. It proposes the establishment of a Scottish government-owned energy company, with responsibility for helping the growth of local and community energy projects.

Although the strategy says that “most important of all” is helping to end “fuel poverty misery”, this can be done partly by greatly improving the energy efficiency of existing homes. Mr Wheelhouse stressed, in his foreword to the report,  that exploration and production of oil and gas in Scottish waters “will continue to provide high-value employment and a stable energy supply for decades to come”, he added “Our ambition is that these strengths should also provide the engineering and technical bedrock for the transformational change in Scotland’s energy system over the coming decades.” This strategy suggests Scotland could take advantage of emerging ways of using hydrocarbons, for example in powering fuel cells in cars. The government will work with industry to look at opportunities for small-scale carbon capture and storage(CCS) projects. Pledging to make Scotland’s buildings near zero carbon by 2050, the strategy sets out a “renewed focus” on energy efficiency. The government are also looking for views on the role of “green bonds” and alternative financial models for supporting low carbon technologies and services. The government said it would announce details (which would demonstrate low carbon or renewable electricity, heating or storage solutions) of up to £50m in funding for 13 projects across Scotland. Scotland had exceeded a target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 42% six years early.

On Tuesday afternoon, Mr Wheelhouse told MSPs in the Holyrood chamber, that the country could take pride in its achievements. Although he said more progress was needed, if the country was to remain on track to meet its ambitious climate change goals, particularly in the supply of low-carbon heat and transport. Mr Wheelhouse added, “To maintain momentum, a new 2030 all energy renewables target is proposed in our energy strategy, setting an ambitious challenge to deliver the equivalent of half of Scotland’s energy requirements for heat, transport and electricity from renewable energy sources.” “I hope that members will welcome this landmark proposal given the support shown for such an ambition last month in this chamber during the debate on support for Scotland’s renewables sector.”

Environmental group WWF Scotland welcomed the 50% target, this was said to have sent a “strong message to business and industry, both here and globally, that Scotland plans to build on its amazing progress on renewable electricity in the heat and transport sectors”. Even though they called for more detail on how it would be achieved, the target was unanimously welcomed by opposition parties. Conservative MSP Alexander Burnett said “considerable

investment was needed in renewable heat and energy-efficiency measures.” Labour’s Jackie Baillie said “the target was rightly ambitious but added that the challenge would be in implementation.” And Mark Ruskell of the Scottish Greens said “the government must match its new target with a commitment to keep Scotland frack-free.” Mark Ruskell also called for more detail on how, by 2032, almost two million homes could be switched to low-carbon heating, in order to meet the target of 80% of domestic heat coming from low-carbon sources.

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