Scotland has met one of its key targets for renewable energy consumption. As reported by The Herald, 57.7 percent of Scottish electricity consumption was derived from renewable energy sources last year, ahead of the 50 percent target set by ministers.
Scotland is now more than halfway to meeting its ambitious target of producing its entire annual electricity needs from renewable energy sources by 2020. This finding certainly fits the renewable trend driven by the current Scottish government: just last November, it green-lit the construction of the world’s largest floating wind farm.
“This is great news and an important step in creating a fossil-free Scotland,” Dr. Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, told The Herald. “Despite the U.K. government's ideological assault on renewable energy, Scotland is storming ahead, smashing through our 50 percent target for 2015.”
Putting this in perspective, Scotland accounted for 26.4 percent of the U.K.’s total renewable electricity generation in 2015, according to figures published by the U.K. Department of Energy and Climate Change. England’s share was 65 percent, with the remainder divvied out by Wales and Northern Ireland.
All in all, thanks to largely solar and wind power, the U.K.’s renewable electricity generation accounted for 25 percent of its power consumption in 2015, up from 19.1 percent in 2014. So, although Scotland’s achievement is laudable, the U.K. as a whole is actually doing surprisingly well when it comes to improving its reliance on renewables.
Wind turbines in Scotland. David Falconer/Shutterstock
The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently declared that over a quarter of the world will be powered by renewable energy by just 2020. Evidence of this can be clearly seen across the globe: Morocco is nearing completion of its advanced, concentrated solar power plant, which could soon power the entire region 24 hours a day; Sweden is aiming to become the world’s first fossil fuel-free nation; Costa Rica, Denmark, and Hawaii are all actively focusing their energy production on renewable energy sources.
Even China, the world’s foremost greenhouse gas emitter, is contributing to this trend. Not only is it going to sign up to the Paris agreement along with the U.S., but it is currently responsible for 40 percent of global renewable capacity growth – enough to power the U.K. three times over.
Switching from fossil fuels to nuclear and renewable energy sources is a smart move by any measure, and Scotland’s recent 57.7 percent renewables figure is a welcome addition to this somewhat surprising global uptick. However, Scotland’s government isn’t as scientifically conscientious as it may appear.
It recently decided to ban genetically modified (GM) crops based on a “consumer backlash,” and presented no scientific evidence backing their decision. The scientific and agricultural world cried out in disbelief, rightly stating that GM crops, once approved by rigorous testing, are safe for humans, animals, and the environment.
At least on climate change, the Scottish government appears to have the right idea. Saying that, it has just invested a large amount of money in research and development in the North Sea oil field.