Renewable energy push has fresh wind in its sails

Renewable

power in its various forms looks set to add considerable impetus to Scotland’s attempt to give a green restart the economy in the wake of the economic damage caused by the lockdown.

The debate over a green restart to the Scottish economy is taking place as we head towards 2020’s Earth Overshoot Day, on 22 August. Having an array of successful and ongoing renewables projects will also play well for Scotland as it looks to host COP-26, the United Nations 26th Climate Change Conference, from November 1 to 12 next year, at the Glasgow SECC.

Of course, not all green projects will be renewable energy projects. The UK Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, for example, recently announced a £3 billion ‘green investment’ package as part of the UK government’s COV-19 recovery plan, but this was all about improving the insulation of public buildings and cutting emissions from Britain’s poorly insulated homes.

This announcement was immediately slammed as ‘too little’ and ‘too unambitious’. Greenpeace pointed out that the German government has committed £36 billion into climate-change preventative measures, while France has committed £13.5 billion.

Scotland has an even more ambitious target than Westminster and aims to achieve a net-zero economy by 2045. In this it has been greatly aided by the UK Government’s decision, in early March to do a U-turn on its four year old ban on onshore wind farm subsidies. That ban, put in place by the then Prime Minister, David Cameron, caused a sharp decline in the number of new onshore wind farms.

According to Scottish Renewables, today, onshore wind already has some 4GW of capacity in new developments that have achieved planning consent. Another 4GW of projects are currently in the planning process. Offshore wind too, had 4GW of projects with planning consent.

Morag Watson, Director of Policy at Scottish Renewables, said: “Scotland’s renewable energy industry provides enormous opportunity to deliver a green economic recovery and address the challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Onshore wind – the cheapest form of new power generation – can play a huge role in this. The technology currently provides more than 70% of Scotland’s renewable energy capacity (8,357MW out of 11,891MW), displacing millions of tonnes of carbon each year. The sector employs 5,400 people across the country and brings skilled jobs and investment to some of our most remote communities . . . . .

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