Sottish Renewable Energy Sector Holds Great Potential
The report from Reform Scotland, a well-established and respected think tank, has confirmed what the renewable industry has known for some time – that Scotland have the potential to play an internationally-important role in the development of the sector – and strongly contradicts recent critics.
The report assesses renewable energy against the four key criteria for energy policy in the 21st Century: carbon emissions, cost, energy security and economic development, with renewables scoring increasingly strongly on each count.
Firstly, the sector has the potential to make a significant contribution towards climate change targets, particularly as they electrify public and personal transport and move to electric heating.
On cost, onshore wind is already cheaper than nuclear and energy analysts Bloomberg believe that it will reach parity with gas-fired generation by 2016. Offshore wind and marine energy are still expensive, but costs will come down while fossil fuel prices are only set to rise further.
The growing output of renewable electricity – already more than a quarter of Scotland’s electricity demand – means less reliance on gas imports and less exposure to international markets and future unrest in the Middle East.
And in terms of economic development, it’s hard to identify a sector with greater potential to re-energise their economy at this time of languid growth, with some £46billion of renewable energy projects in scoping, planning or construction. There are thousands of jobs in project development, operations and maintenance today, but the sector will be a major driver of new jobs over the coming decade and play a key role in curbing unemployment – particularly youth unemployment – with significant investment in new apprenticeships.
The authors’ conclusions affirm industry’s belief that they can meet the 2020 renewable energy targets and has kick-started a debate on how much further they can go.
Perhaps most importantly, the report sets out for the first time the likely level of export sales from renewable electricity to the rest of the UK, placing its value at around a fifth of their manufactured exports. That’s good news for their economy, but it’s also essential for the UK if the country is to have any chance of reaching its climate change targets.
Since the industrial revolution, the energy industry has been a key part of Scotland’s export sector, and with rising exports of clean electricity, renewables will simply be the latest chapter in the success story of Scotland’s energy economy.
By Niall Stuart, Chief Executive, Scottish Renewables
Source: scottishrenewables, December 12, 2011