The study, published by industry body Scottish Renewables, shows Scotland is on course to generate the equivalent of 87% of its annual demand for power from renewables by 2020, and highlights the need for further support from the UK Government if the target is to be met.
Its release comes amid press reports of a leaked letter from the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change stating that the UK will miss its 2020 renewables targets.
Niall Stuart, Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables said, “Scotland has come a long way in a short space of time, with supportive policies at Westminster and Holyrood delivering an incredible transformation in our electricity industry. The renewables sector now employs some 21,000 people, is delivering around £1billion pounds of capital investment each year, and has displaced carbon emissions equivalent to the whole of our transport sector.”
Niall Stuart claimed: “The 100% target has provided a powerful focus for government, industry and supporting bodies like HIE and Scottish Enterprise, and really put Scotland’s renewable energy industry on the map. However, current projections show that we’re not going to meet it unless we get more projects going ahead between now and 2020.”
According to Scottish Renewables, there are consented schemes onshore and offshore that could help them reach their target, there, but these can only go ahead if they are allocated a long term contract for their power.
The industry had expected an auction round for contracts this autumn, but according to Scottish Renewables, UK ministers postponed this, leaving them unsure if and when it will be rescheduled to go ahead. Niall Stuart commented that this would inevitably impact on investor confidence across the industry.
“If we don’t start the process by next spring," he continued, "the delay could fatally undermine the timeline for the projects on Scotland’s main island groups, ending prospects for major developments on the Western Isles and Shetland. It would also raise serious questions about whether the proposed offshore wind projects can make the 2020 deadline."
The 2020 target is not legally binding and therefore there are no penalties for missing it. However, Scottish Renewables are keen to stay on track and meet the deadline: “Essentially it is this simple – if we get an allocation round next spring and enough Scottish projects are successful we can still hit the target.”