Scotland’s 100% renewable energy target by 2020 is “achievable”, says Committee
The Scottish Parliament Committee addressed a range of issues relating to renewables such as independence and tourism
Scotland’s ambitious target of generating 100 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020 is “achievable”, a Scottish Parliament Committee has concluded in an extensive report on the nation’s clean energy objectives.
However, the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee found that there is a risk that the target for renewable sources to provide 11 per cent of Scotland's heat demand by the end of the decade may not be met.
In Report on the achievability of the Scottish Government's renewable energy targets, which addressed a diverse range of issues relating to renewables such as Scottish independence, the effects of developments on tourism and the energy system, the Committee said the 2020 target could be met.
But it added that pressure on the planning system, a lack of investment in energy infrastructure and skills provisions were all issues to be addressed.
Recent figures from the Department for Energy and Climate Change showed that Scotland's renewable energy output increased by 45 per cent in the first quarter of 2012, compared with the same period in 2011. This meant that about 35 per cent of Scotland's electricity needs came from renewables in 2011, exceeding the interim target for this period of 31 per cent.
The Committee said hat to avoid the risk of not meeting the target for renewable heat, boosting the penetration of Combined Heat and Power (CHP) and district heating is necessary, adding that the delay to the UK government’s domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) has been a factor in this.
The report addressed the issue of Scottish independence but said it did not believe there is significant evidence that the current constitutional debate is undermining investment decisions regarding renewable energy.
In a victory for the Scottish wind industry, the Committee also said that evidence from VisitScotland suggested that tourism is not being negatively affected by the development of renewable projects.
The Scottish Government welcomed the findings of the report.
Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “The Enterprise, Energy and Tourism Committee's report on the Scottish Government's renewables targets confirms what we have long known - that our target of the equivalent of 100 per cent of Scotland's electricity demand from renewables by 2020 is achievable.
“The positive tone of this report reflects the widespread belief across the industry, the government and its agencies and key stakeholders that renewable energy can deliver huge benefits for Scotland's people.”
Jenny Hogan, Director of Policy for Scottish Renewables, also welcomed many of the Committee's findings.
"This has been one of the most detailed and debated Committee inquiries in the Scottish Parliament's history and it has confirmed what we have said for some time; that the ambitious targets for the renewables industry are achievable,” she said.
"We are also glad that the independent committee concluded that there is 'no empirical evidence which demonstrates that the tourism industry in Scotland will be adversely affected by the wider deployment of renewable energy projects, particularly onshore and offshore wind.
"The committee rightly concludes that renewable energy is not only crucial to reducing greenhouse gas emissions but is also good for energy security and protection against volatile energy prices."
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James Kershaw, 23/11/2012
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