Scotland generates record power from renewables

The amount of green power generated in Scotland reached record levels last year, according to the latest official figures from the UK government.

Offshore wind has played a major part in the recent rise in renewable energy generation in Scotland

Data from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy shows 26,708 gigawatt hours of renewable electricity was produced north of the border in 2018 – a 6.1 per cent increase on the previous record in 2017.

The output means nearly three quarters of the country’s annual gross electricity consumption came from renewable sources.

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Scotland’s renewable electricity capacity rose from 10 gigawatts in 2017 to 10.9 gigawatts in 2018.

Much of the increase was due to offshore wind farms, with capacity and generation both more than doubling in the past 12 months.

Offshore output grew from 616 gigawatt hours to 1,369 gigawatt hours, while capacity rose from 246 megawatts to 623 megawatts.

Last year also set a record for electricity exports from Scotland, which almost doubled from 12,868 gigawatt hours to 24,379 gigawatt hours.

Scottish energy minister Paul Wheelhouse welcomed the figures, which he says show the country’s renewable energy sector “continues to go from strength to strength”.

However, he criticised Westminster cuts in support for some renewables schemes.

“Despite damaging policy changes from the UK government since 2015, particularly in terms of impacts on onshore wind, we continue to provide strong support for Scotland’s renewable energy sector,” he said.

“Generation and infrastructure investment continues, not least because of the importance in preventing the damaging impacts of climate change. We will ensure the correct strategic decisions are taken to further support this highly valued sector.”

Industry leaders said the latest growth showed the strength of the sector.

Joe Mitchell, policy officer at Scottish Renewables, said: “Renewable energy drives investment and creates jobs, as well as mitigating climate change by reducing the amount of fossil fuels the UK must burn to keep the lights on. With the right support from governments in both London and Edinburgh our industry, which already employs 17,700 people in Scotland, can continue to deliver these benefits as the shift to a clean, smart energy system gathers pace.”

Environmental campaigners stressed the importance of green energy in tackling global warming.

Gina Hanrahan, head of policy at WWF Scotland, said: “Renewables play a vital role in powering the country, creating jobs and reducing climate emissions. With the urgency of tackling climate change ever clearer, we should celebrate and build on this progress.

“But if Scotland’s full renewables potential is to be unleashed to power our economy, heat our homes and charge our cars, then the UK government needs to unlock support for cheap, popular and effective renewables like onshore wind.”