What The UK Government Can Learn From Scotland’s Renewable Success

Scotland's rightly proud of its amazing autumnal colours, with our trees putting on an annual display of brilliant reds and oranges. However this October the leaves fell a little quicker than usual, helped on their way by some stormy weather and the tail end of Hurricane Ophelia. It's perhaps not a surprise then that these blustery conditions led to wind turbines providing a huge amount of power to the National Grid over the month. Indeed for 15 days wind power provided over 100% of Scotland's entire electricity demand and over the course of the month provided enough to power over four million homes. What's even more encouraging is that huge levels of renewable generation are becoming the norm. For several years we've been collecting data on onshore wind output, in partnership with WeatherEnergy, and by comparing the year on year results we can see more and more of our electricity is coming from clean renewables. This is due to increased capacity and improvements to the transmission network across Scotland that has allowed windfarms to come online. The move away from polluting fossil fuels and towards renewable technology, like wind, tidal and solar, is a crucial part of Scotland's journey towards a low carbon economy. With renewable electricity capacity now at 9.3GW, the sector is two and a half times bigger than it was at the end of 2008.  According to Scottish Renewables, onshore wind is the biggest single technology, accounting for over 72 per cent of installed capacity, while hydro, solar and bioenergy are Scotland's other major sources of renewable power. And all these renewables are massively reducing carbon emissions - by over 13 million tonnes a year (more than generated by Scotland's entire transport sector). Even though Scotland's renewable sector is thriving, the continued growth of clean, cheap power requires the UK Government to allow onshore wind and solar to compete for contracts on a level playing field with other forms of electricity generation. Having a clear route to market is essential if we are to enjoy the benefits of significant cost reductions in onshore wind and solar. This call is backed by everyone from the Scottish Government to the UK National Infrastructure Commission to Ofgem and most importantly the general public. Renewables, including onshore wind, are riding high in the polls with record levels of support. If the UK Government can listen to the growing appetite for cheap onshore wind, and if the Scottish Government continues to set high ambition and match it with strong policy commitments, we'll see consumers, the renewables industry and the planet all benefit from a cleaner, greener future.