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New report: Scotland could become renewable 'powerhouse' by 2030

5 January 2015

Scotland’s electricity system could be powered almost entirely by renewables by 2030 and without the need for any gas, coal or nuclear power stations in Scotland, according to a new report published today (Monday 5 January) by WWF Scotland. [1]

 Based on independent technical analysis by leading engineering and energy consultancy DNV GL, [2] ‘Pathways to Power: Scotland’s route to clean, renewable, secure electricity by 2030’ tested the Scottish Government’s current policy to decarbonise the country’s electricity generation by 2030. This is separate from the target to provide 100% of electricity demand from renewables by 2020, which still allows for coal and gas to remain on the grid. [3]

Key findings of the report include:

• An electricity system based on proven renewables and increased energy efficiency is a credible way of meeting Scotland’s decarbonisation target.

• With no guarantee that Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) will be commercialised and rolled out in time, Scotland’s climate targets could easily be missed unless a safer pathway is followed.

• Scotland can maintain and even build on its position as a net power exporter if it makes moderate progress to reduce demand for electricity and increase the roll out of hydro pumped storage.

• A renewable, efficient and flexible system has many advantages over the current Scottish Government scenarios: it is less dependent on imports from the rest of Great Britain at peak demand, is cheaper, and has lower emissions than the scenarios in the Scottish Government’s Electricity Generation Policy Statement. [4]

WWF Scotland’s Climate and Energy Policy Officer, Gina Hanrahan, said:

“It’s great to see the vision for a secure, renewables-based future for Scotland independently tested and proven. It’s clear that Scotland doesn’t have to generate electricity from coal, gas or nuclear to ensure security of supply.

“We’d still like to see CCS tested at Peterhead, but given how slowly this technology is progressing, it makes sense to explore alternative paths to achieving the Government’s own target. The report shows that not only is a renewable, fossil-fuel free electricity system perfectly feasible in Scotland by 2030, it’s actually the safe bet. Pursuing this pathway would allow Scotland to maintain and build on its position as the UK and Europe’s renewable powerhouse, cut climate emissions and continue to reap the jobs and investment opportunities offered by Scotland’s abundant renewable resources.

“We’ve seen renewables go from strength to strength in recent years. They are now the biggest electricity generator in Scotland, outstripping nuclear, coal and gas. We need to see the phasing out of conventional generation in Scotland, clarity about the future market for renewables across the UK and more emphasis on demand reduction and storage in Scotland so the vision can be achieved.”

Lead author of the report for DNV GL, Paul Gardner, said:

“Our technical analysis shows that a system with an extremely high proportion of renewable electricity generation located in Scotland can be secure and stable. There is no technical reason requiring conventional fossil and nuclear generation in Scotland.

“Scotland has plenty of renewables in the pipeline to cut the carbon from its power supply by 2030, particularly if we see progress on reducing electricity demand. And crucially, Scotland can continue to be an electricity exporting nation.”

Chair of The Existing Homes Alliance, a coalition of Scottish organisations campaigning for energy efficiency in housing, Alan Ferguson, said:

“This important report makes clear that Scotland’s clean power system must be built on an effective energy efficiency programme. Reducing our electricity demand by only 1 per cent a year is achievable and brings real benefits to the Scottish economy, households and businesses. We hope the Scottish Government recognises the value of cutting demand and puts in place steps to reduce the demand for electricity, helping to cut bills and the need for new generating plant.”

Notes to Editors

[1] WWF Scotland report Pathways to Power: Scotland’s route to clean, renewable, secure electricity by 2030.

[2] The technical analysis underpinning the report was conducted by respected international energy and engineering consultancy DNV GL (incorporating Garrad Hassan) – the world’s largest renewables advisory - and was reviewed independently by energy academics based at Edinburgh University.

DNV GL Technical Report: Implications of a Decarbonised Power Sector in Scotland by 2030.

[3] Scottish Government 2020 Routemap for Renewable Energy in Scotland

[4] Scottish Government Electricity Generation Policy statement

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