Scotland could have almost entirely renewable-powered electricity system by 2030: Study

05 Jan 2015


Scotland's electricity system could be powered almost entirely renewable powered by 2030, a report by an environmental charity said.

The report of the charity WWF Scotland is based on an independent analysis by an engineering and energy consultancy to test the policy of the Scottish government to decarbonise the country's electricity supply over the next 15 years.

According to the group an electricity system based on "proven renewables and increased energy efficiency" was a credible way of meeting the target.

The report further warned that, with no guarantee that carbon capture and storage (CCS) would be commercialised and rolled out in time, the country could miss its carbon targets unless a safer route to reducing carbon emissions was followed.

Scotland could maintain and also build on its position as a net power exporter if it made moderate progress to cut electricity demand and also increase the rollout of hydro-pumped storage, according to the report.

According to the lead author of the report for consultancy DNV GL, Paul Gardner, technical analysis showed that a systems with extremely high proportion of renewable electricity generation located in Scotland could be and stable and there was no technical reason requiring conventional fossil and nuclear generation in Scotland.

According to the report a fossil fuel-free Scotland was not only technically achievable but could prove a cheaper and safer option than pursuing fossil fuel-based development.

The study tested the Scottish government's current policy goal of decarbonising the country's electricity generation by 2030, by setting a target of bringing carbon intensity down from 271 grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour to 50g CO2.

The target was separate to the goal of providing 100-per cent of electricity demand from renewables by 2020, which still allowed for coal and gas to remain on the grid.

The 2030 decarbonisation policy assumed carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology would be operating at scale, fitted to 2.5GW of gas power plants.

WWF deemed this a risky strategy considering there were no commercial-scale CCS operations in the UK and the government had to yet to decide a winner for its £1-billion commercialisation competition for the technology between the Peterhead CCS project and the White Rose project at Drax.

However, according to the report CCS was not needed to decarbonise Scotland's electricity sector and concluded "a renewables-based, efficient, flexible, electricity system was perfectly feasible by 2030" in view of Scotland's abundant of wind and wave energy resources and strong tradition of engineering innovation.

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