Leader comment: Good renewables figures, but still some questions

As anyone who has braced the high street in recent days to pick up last minute Christmas gifts will attest, Scotland is no stranger to strong winds, but increasingly, the country is harnessing the elements to its advantage.

Renewable energy sources exceeded thier target for producing half of the country's needs in 2015, new figures show.

New figures released yesterday showing how the country exceeded its renewable energy target for 2015 are to be welcomed.

The data revealed that some 59.4% of Scotland’s gross electricity consumption came from renewable sources, a significant spike on the 50% target.

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With the renewables sector employing tens of thousands of people, news of its continuing success is a boon for the economy as well as the environment.

The question now, however, is how does the sector and the country as a whole continue to make progress? There is an ambitious target to deliver the equivalent of 100% of Scotland’s electricity consumption from renewable sources by 2020. While the latest figures offer encouragement in that regard, there is also a need for pragmatism.

Supporters of renewables have yet to give a convincing answer to the question of how to supply Scotland’s base load. As things stand, that capacity is met by nuclear and fossil fuels. Unless there is a change, costly imports will play an increasingly prominent role in that mix in order to secure security of supply.

The mix of our power sources is delicate and forever changing, but the issue of base load or back up capacity is not going to go away any time soon. While the commendable work that has been done to cement Scotland’s reputation as a leader in green energy should continue, there is clearly a need to look at the bigger picture.