Renewable Energy: The Green Road Towards 2025 and Beyond

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The Scottish Government recognises the need to transition to a low-carbon economy. Current targets aim for the near-complete decarbonisation of Scottish energy by the year 2050 (Scottish Government, 2017). Renewable energy sources are a vital component of this plan and sufficient investment is needed to ensure adequate supplies of renewable energy are available to accommodate this transition.

The Government has outlined specific targets to facilitate the shift towards decarbonisation. The Scottish Energy System Strategy states that renewable sources will supply at least 50% of heat, transport and electricity consumption by 2030 (Scottish Government, 2017). An initial target was set in 2009 for 30% of heat, transport and electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020 (Scottish Government, 2009).

There was a slight reduction in energy consumption in the decade from 2009 to 2019 (Scottish Renewables, 2020) meaning that the current targets for transitioning to renewable energy sources are achievable. In order to meet these goals, it is important that the Scottish Government continues to prioritise off-shore wind energy opportunities, taking advantage of Scotland's natural conditions which are prime for the installation of wind turbines (Nield, 2019).

Scotland uniquely offers an abundance of viable renewable energy sources from different technologies such as hydroelectric, marine and both off-shore and on-shore wind. Additionally, Scotland has 25% of Europe's offshore wind and tidal resources (Scottish Development International, 2019) and over 60% of the UK's onshore wind capacity (ibid) which allows for a wide scope of solutions to meet the energy target.

Reaching 50% of total renewable energy supply by 2030 is an ambitious goal and may become more challenging given the current uncertain market conditions in the context of the UK's exit from the EU. The energy risks associated with Brexit include the threat of the UK ...adopting a radical deregulatory approach that could significantly damage climate change progress (Gaventa, 2017, p.5). There is now greater uncertainty around the future of UK energy policy, and it is more difficult to ensure a steady supply, while also prioritising renewables.

The COVID-19 pandemic also has important consequences for the future of renewables. While COVID-19 has drastically reduced demand for energy temporarily because of reduced demand for transport and electricity, it has been noted that the recovery from the pandemic could be a useful opportunity to build back better. Taking this into account, the pandemic could be a catalyst to dramatically increase the use of renewable energy and low carbon infrastructure (Khanna, 2020). This suggests that the next 5 years mark a period of urgency for promoting renewable energy.

Several policy areas with relevance to the energy sector are not under devolved administration control such as energy efficiency and fuel poverty initiatives. This report will explore viable options and solutions for Scotland to reach its targets.

Continuing to build Scotland's renewable energy capacity will enable the establishment of stable domestic industries, with the potential to export such technologies afar. This suggests that a move to renewables can be of benefit to the Scottish economy. In 2017, 17,700 people were employed full-time in renewable energy in Scotland (Scottish Renewables, 2021). WIth capacity to grow, it is clear that investing in renewables has significant economic potential for Scotland.

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Firstly, Scotland has taken a holistic approach in meeting its renewable energy targets, with existing strategic priorities covering a wide range of approaches in fuel poverty, consumer engagement and industrial and domestic energy efficiency. These priorities have been in line with Scotland’s commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (Scottish Government, 2020).

These strategic priorities on renewable energy targets will have to remain flexible in order to respond to changes in individual technologies and wider market developments. The nature of the UK’s exit from the EU is likely to have considerable impact on the UK's ability to meet its Clean Growth Strategy, as it tries to manage growth losses from leaving the EU (Bank of England, 2019). Whilst the UK government has noted that leaving the EU presents an opportunity for the UK to move to a greener growth strategy (UK Government, 2017), the full effects of Brexit have not yet taken affect and as such may present difficulties in meeting the goals set in the Growth Strategy, and indeed Scotland's goals set by the Scottish Government in The Scottish Energy System Strategy. International efforts to deliver the Paris Climate Agreement may also have a powerful bearing on progress.

However, in the realm of renewable and low carbon energy solutions, amongst a few initiatives, there is one primary policy in place, established in 2012 and known as the Renewable Energy Investment Fund (REIF) (Scottish Government, 2012). This fund provides significant capital finance to support renewable energy projects at all stages in its development from academic research, to testing, prototyping and post-launch stages in product development. In five years, the Fund has invested £60 million and supported over 20 projects (Scottish Enterprise, 2019).

Additionally, the Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme (LCITP) was launched in March 2015 (Scottish Government, 2020). This programme was created in order to increase the commercial attractiveness of Scotland for investors looking to fund low carbon infrastructure progress.

Data from Scottish Renewables highlights that onshore wind makes up the largest proportion of capacity from installed renewable technologies and renewable electricity output in Scotland (Scottish Renewables, 2020). Onshore wind technology makes up 71% of current installed capacity from renewable technologies and 63% of electricity output from renewable technologies (ibid). However, offshore wind technologies account for only 7% of installed capacity and 10% of electricity output from renewable technologies (ibid). In order to meet Scotland’s ambitious targets for renewable electricity sources, this imbalance in renewable energy sources should be addressed.

In terms of development, offshore wind is now substantially cheaper than new nuclear electricity generation. Renewable technology is only growing in popularity worldwide, meaning it is likely total spending on wind will climb to £210 billion within the next ten years (Scottish Government, n.d.). Furthermore, it is expected the price of wind turbines will decrease significantly by 2025 due to their increased popularity, lessening the price per unit of the resource (IEA, 2020). As such, investment in renewables has never been more cost-efficient.

Innovative and environmentally beneficial technological developments have also taken place in ways that are sure to benefit Scotland in the future. The advent of floating foundation technology has begun. These foundations allow access to deeper water as well as mitigate some of the issues associated with the initial installation of turbines as they do not have to be anchored to the seabed (International Renewable Energy Agency, 2016). This, again, reduces overall cost. Scotland was in fact the first country to experiment with this new technology; it is imperative that momentum is not lost and Scotland continues to utilise the natural resources at its disposal in a trailblazing yet responsible and sustainable fashion.

Off-shore wind energy production provides a unique opportunity for Scotland to meet its renewable energy targets. Over the past forty years, the Scottish energy sector has had success and gained extensive experience in offshore energy production through oil and gas ventures (Scottish Development International, 2021). This has given Scotland an experienced offshore labour force and the port and offshore infrastructure necessary for the development of offshore wind technology (ibid). It is already well understood that Scotland has appealing natural conditions for offshore wind expansion (Scottish Government, 2017). Expansion of off-shore wind energy technologies should be prioritised, in order to meet Scotland's targets for renewable energy.

In order to reach its ambitious renewable energy goals, policymakers in Scotland must continue to invest in renewable technologies and diversify energy sources. Opportunities to invest in offshore wind energy options in Scotland should be taken advantage of as these energy sources are well-suited to Scotland's existing industry knowledge and expertise, as well as our natural landscape. The prioritisation of Scotland's off-shore wind energy opportunities, whilst maintaining progress in other renewable energy technology developments, will put Scotland on a path to meet current renewable energy targets.

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Renewable Energy: The Green Road Towards 2025 and Beyond. (2022, November 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 14, 2024, from
“Renewable Energy: The Green Road Towards 2025 and Beyond.” Edubirdie, 25 Nov. 2022,
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