SCOTLAND’S electricity will come solely from renewable energy by 2020, leading to reductions in households’ bills, a new government report has claimed.
Electricity bills would be almost £100 cheaper a year if the Scottish Government’s target of meeting all the country’s energy needs from renewables in the next eight years is met, according to the Electricity Generation Policy Statement (EGPS).
The report said that the SNP’s flagship policy of promoting green energy would lead to a “secure source of electricity supply” that would mean it would become more affordable.
Scotland’s reliance on forms of energy such as nuclear power would make way for a “rapid expansion” of renewable electricity that would be powered by “fossil fuel thermal generation” or steam power and increased carbon capture and storage.
The government study estimated that the share of Scotland’s electricity coming from renewables would go from the 2010 figure of 24 per cent to nearly 50 per cent by 2015 before reaching 100 per cent in 2020.
There was a stark warning in the report that carrying on with “business as usual” would lead to average annual bills of £1,379 for Scottish households compared to yearly bills of £1,285 if low carbon energy policies such as the increased use of renewables were pursued.
Niall Stuart, chief executive of industry body Scottish Renewables, said offering alternatives to existing forms of energy would “insulate consumers from future hikes in wholesale gas prices” by offering a greater choice.
He added: “This is an industry that is delivering jobs and investment today, but we can attract billions more in the future and thousands more jobs. Scotland should not lose sight of the fantastic opportunity renewable energy offers us.
“There has been tremendous amount of debate on energy costs with renewables wrongly being blamed for the sharp increases in household energy bills. Unfortunately, this myth has been persistent in certain corners of the debate.”
But Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone warned that an “over-reliance” on renewable power would lead to a hike in electricity bills due to costs associated with building wind farms.
Mr Johnstone said: “The unpredictably of wind as a source of power means it is less reliable and also potentially more expensive.
“There would also be new infrastructure costs associated with the expansion of wind farms and for the power grid.”
The report also said that generating electricity from renewable sources would deliver “the “greatest possible economic benefit and competitive advantage” for the country.
SNP energy minister Fergus Ewing claimed the government’s target was achievable, and that the policy would lead to “lower electricity bills for all”.
Mr Ewing said: “This report shows that the Scottish Government’s target to generate the equivalent of 100 per cent of our electricity needs from renewables … is achievable.”