Renewable Energy as Great Opportunity for Scotland

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing will urge industry experts to take advantage of the massive opportunity renewable energy presents to Scotland.The Minister will deliver the opening speech and take questions at a conference on the economics of renewables.

And he will tell delegates that not only do the sums on renewable energy add up, but that green energy, supported by modernised thermal generation backup, is the best long term option.Speaking the day after an independent report by Reform Scotland showed that exporting renewable energy could earn Scotland £2 billion a year, Mr Ewing said failing to take advantage of the opportunities renewables present would be ‘a criminal waste’.

Mr Ewing said: “Scotland has huge potential for renewable energy. It has enormous wealth in its people, geography and natural resources and it would be a criminal waste not to take advantage of it. As well as skills and expertise, we have a quarter of Europe’s tidal and offshore wind potential and a tenth of its wave power.

“We understand the scale of the challenge before us but we are more than equipped to meet it. If we want clean, secure, safe and sustainable energy in future, we must deliver Scotland’s renewable energy resources.

“I share Reform Scotland’s view that Scotland could become the biggest exporter of low carbon electricity in Europe. We already produce 40 per cent of the UK’s renewable electricity and with the continued investment we are witnessing, Scotland’s energy will continue to be used across the UK and Europe in all future constitutional circumstances, including independence.

“Investing money in renewable energy now will help keep bills down in future, as Ofgem’s Project Discovery has shown. Average energy bills have risen up to £190 largely due to volatile wholesale fuel prices, compared to the tiny £15-20 a year renewables incentives are expected add to the average electricity bill in 2011. Only by investing in renewables can we mitigate further price instability.

“Renewable energy is not just a pipe dream – it is already happening. Scotland is attracting massive investment in renewables, with projects worth £750 million being delivered in the past year alone, announcements from major international companies such as Doosan Power Systems, Gamesa and Mitsubishi, and a pipeline of proposed projects worth an estimated capital investment of £46 billion. We have unveiled investment to boost renewables at Scrabster Harbour, putting communities across Scotland at the heart of the clean green energy revolution.

The Scottish Government’s target is to meet the equivalent of 100 per cent of gross annual electricity demand from renewables by 2020.In 2009 the Scottish Government met 27.4 per cent of Scotland’s gross electricity demand from renewables.While renewables output in 2010 was affected by unusual weather patterns (2010 being the driest year since 2003) renewables generation in 2011 has increased significantly. In the second quarter of 2011, UK hydro generation increased by 74 per cent on the equivalent quarter of 2010. Given that Scotland has over 90 per cent of the UK’s hydro output much of the increase will be in Scotland.

UK onshore wind generation increased by 111 per cent on the equivalent quarter of 2010. Scotland has approximately 48 per cent of the UK’s wind output.There is approximately 4500 megawatts of renewables capacity in operation in Scotland. It is estimated that Scotland has enough capacity operational and in the planning system to meet up to three quarters of its electricity demand.

Scottish Ministers have granted consent to 45 major renewable energy projects since May 2007.Lease agreements have been secured for offshore wind projects in Scotland with potential capacity of up to 10 gigawatts by 2020.Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters leasing round saw 11 leases awarded for wave and tidal projects, with total potential capacity of 1.6 gigawatts capacity.Investment and JobsA Scottish Renewables report published on 1 November 2011 showed £750 million of new renewable electricity projects started generating in Scotland over the past year.

The report stated that there is a pipeline of 17 gigawatts of renewable electricity projects worth an estimated £46 billion.In November 2011, Moray Offshore Renewables consisting of EDP Renewables and Repsol announced details of a 4.5 billion project to create the world’s largest offshore wind farm in the Moray Firth, with potential for up to 1,400 jobs during construction, and almost 300 jobs during operation.In September 2011, ‘Oyster’ wave energy developer Aquamarine Power secured £7 million of new funding to help take it to commercialisation in 2014.In March 2011 the Scottish Government consented the world’s largest tidal energy array in Islay. Scottish Power’s £40 million project will generate enough electricity for 5,000 homes – double the number on Islay.

In March 2011 Doosan Babcock announced its Centre for Excellence for Renewables at Westway in Renfrew, creating up to 1700 jobs and investments worth £170 million over the next ten years;Scottish Government SupportOn December 7 the First Minister announced that the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney will collaborate with counterparts from the Ocean University of China (OUC) in Shandong Province to accelerate the development of marine energy technologiesThe Scottish Government has successfully pressed the UK Govt to release £103 million of Scotland’s Fossil Fuel Levy, which will allow us to step up investment in the renewables sector. The remaining half (over £100 million) will be used to capitalise the Green Investment Bank.

The Scottish Government’s £35 million Prototyping for Offshore Wind Energy Renewables Scotland (POWERS) fund will support production of full-scale prototypes of next generation offshore wind turbines, aiming to leverage £80 million of private investment.The Scottish Government’s £70 million National Renewables Infrastructure Fund will leverage private sector investment to develop ports and manufacturing facilities for offshore renewables.

Offshore Wind Staff, December 14, 2011