Today has proved a great day for Scotland’s renewables industry.
First off the mark is the impressive news that we are among the top users of renewable energy in Europe, a tangible consequence of our leadership in this sector.
The second, hugely encouraging news is that a flagship tidal energy turbine in Orkney produced more electricity in its first year than the whole of Scotland’s wave and tidal sector managed to produce before. We have momentum, now we must accelerate.
None of this has happened by accident. It’s the result of forward-thinking policies, commitment and investment by Scottish Governments of all colours, in our abundant renewable resources.
Indeed the transformation of the electricity sector over the past ten years has seen renewable output rise from 24 per cent in 2010 to 68 per cent in 2017.
At the same time, of course, we have seen thousands of jobs created and costs of onshore wind, solar and offshore wind tumble.
We’ve clearly come a long way and that should be celebrated, but we can’t rest on our laurels.
If we’re to fulfil the ambition of the energy strategy published last year, which cemented the Scottish Government’s ambitions to deliver half of all our energy from renewable sources by 2030, we need to transform how we heat our homes and offices and how we travel to work and school. Electrifying our heat and transport systems will have a significant role to play in delivering low-carbon heat and transport.
So how can we ensure the renewable sector continues to grow? First and foremost, we need the UK Government to urgently provide a route to market for mature technologies like onshore wind and solar and to support newer technologies like tidal power in the next auction round.
As the Committee on Climate Change recently advised, the UK Government’s failure to take advantage of low-cost, low-risk options is unfairly penalising consumers who could enjoy lower energy bills.
Scotland is blessed to have limitless sources of renewable power, from wind to tidal to solar. Let’s make sure in ten years’ time, we are celebrating even more successes.
Dr Sam Gardner is acting director at WWF Scotland