A record two fifths of electricity used in Scotland last year came from renewables, official figures have revealed.
Statistics from the UK Government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) showed 40.3 per cent of energy consumption in 2012 was met by the sector – up from 36.3 per cent the previous year and 24.1 per cent in 2010.
The Scottish Government believes it is on course for half of electricity to come from renewable sources by 2015, an interim target ahead of the goal of having the sector generate the equivalent of 100 per cent of electricity needs by 2020.
Scotland continues to produce more energy than it uses, with 26 per cent of electricity generated last year being exported. Nuclear power provided 34.4 per cent of electricity generated in Scotland in 2012, while 29.8 per cent came from renewables, 24.9 per cent came from coal, 8 per cent from gas and 2.8 per cent from oil and other sources.While 29.8 per cent of electricity generated north of the Border was from renewables, in England the sector only produced 8.2 per cent of electricity, while in Wales and Northern Ireland renewables accounted for 8.7 per cent and 15.9 per cent.
Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “These figures show renewable electricity in Scotland is going from strength to strength, confirming that 2012 was a record year for generation in Scotland and that 2013 looks set to be even better. We can already see from the first nine months of 2013 that generation is 4 per cent higher compared to the same period in 2012.
“These figures show that renewable generation in Scotland was at a record high last year, meeting around 40 per cent of our electricity demand at a time when Ofgem [the energy regulator] are warning of the ever-tightening gap between peak electricity demand and supply.”
Director of environmental charity WWF Scotland, Lang Banks said: “It’s great news that Scotland’s renewable energy capacity and output both continue to grow, and this year looks like being another record breaker. However, in order to remain on target Scotland will need to deploy significant amounts of offshore wind in the near future. It’s therefore vital that the UK Government gives a stronger signal of its ambition on the growth of offshore wind in Scotland’s seas.”
He added: “While the rest of the UK has become distracted by gas fracking and new nuclear power, Scotland has quietly got on with the business of deploying renewables at scale. By combining Scotland’s superb renewable energy resource with greater energy efficiency and investment in the grid, Scotland can continue to avoid the need for polluting forms of energy.”
In a report published on Tuesday, the DECC identified an area of Scotland covering the Central Belt and much of the Borders and Fife as the site for the next stage of controversial shale gas exploration, or fracking. The report claimed large-scale production could inject almost £1 billion into local communities, but the exploration has been met with protests in the south of England.