THE amount of clean power made in Scotland has matched that produced from fossil fuels for the first time, in a record year for renewables, according to the latest figures.
Energy from renewable sources accounted for 32 per cent of all electricity generated north of the Border last year – equal to the output from oil, coal and gas. Nuclear power stations provided 34.9 per cent.
The final 2013 figures from the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), released yesterday, also show Scotland continued to be a net exporter of power, with a record 28 per cent being sent elsewhere, mainly to England.
The key drivers of the overall rise were a 39 per cent increase in hydro generation and 13 per cent more output from wind.
“Renewable generation continues to go from strength to strength in Scotland, now matching fossil fuels for the first time,” said Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing.
“Harnessing Scotland’s vast energy wealth has multiple benefits – reducing our carbon emissions, creating jobs and investment and improving the energy security of Scotland and the rest of the UK.”
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He added that Scotland remains on track to achieve its ambitious climate targets for renewable energy, to meet the equivalent of 50 per cent of the country’s electricity needs by 2015 and 100 per cent by 2020.
But anti-wind activists accused the Scottish Government of “cherry-picking statistics to draw a very one-sided picture”.
Wind energy is “little more than a luxury extra” with a huge cost to households, according to Scotland Against Spin spokeswoman Linda Holt.
She said: “The same figures show that most of Scotland’s electricity generation in 2013 was from nuclear, not renewables and certainly not wind. Indeed, a considerable amount of this wind energy will not have been consumed in Scotland but exported to England, and what couldn’t be exported was ‘constrained off’ – effectively wasted at a cost to date of over £100 million to UK consumers.
“In 2014, Scotland relied on nuclear and fossil fuel generation to keep its lights on 24/7, as it will for the foreseeable future.
“Because of wind’s intermittency and inherent unreliability, it is little more than a luxury extra in the energy mix.”
Environmental campaigners welcomed the rise in renewable energy.
“In 2013, renewables displaced nearly 12 million tonnes of climate pollution,” said WWF Scotland director Lang Banks.
“Alongside energy-efficiency, renewables are proving themselves the foundation of a truly low-carbon economy – keeping the lights on, creating jobs and cutting emissions.”
Policy manager Stephanie Clark, from industry body Scottish Renewables, said: “Technologies like wind, hydro, biomass and solar are now part of our mainstream electricity mix.
“Scotland’s clean energy industry is creating jobs.”
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