Scotland nears 50 percent renewable energy use

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Almost half of Scotland’s electricity consumption now comes from renewable energy sources — and the amount of green energy generated in the country rose by almost a third in a year, thanks to bad weather.

But a target for an increase in “renewable heat” technologies remains worryingly out of reach despite the new figures, according to industry group Scottish Renewables.

Fresh statistics from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) estimate renewables met a record-breaking 46.4 percent of electricity use in 2013, up from 39.9 percent in 2012. The Scottish government says this indicates Scotland is on track to meet its targets of 50 percent by 2015, and 100 percent by 2020.

The 30 percent growth in green energy in the first half of this year compared to the same period of 2013 was largely due to hydroelectricity generation growing by 50 percent because of high rainfall. Wind power rose by 20 percent.

However, the DECC’s figures also showed just three percent of the country’s warmth came from “renewable heat” — biomass, solar thermal panels, energy from waste and heat pumps — in 2012. That figure in 2011 was 2.6 percent.

With a target of 11 percent by 2020, the sector has been left behind, according to Stephanie Clark, policy manager at Scottish Renewables.

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said the DECC figures demonstrated renewable generation continued to go from strength to strength in Scotland.

There was also encouragement from a separate figure showing Scotland’s final energy consumption fell by two percent in 2012 and was 11 percent down on the average over the years 2005-2007.

The figures for wind energy will increase further with 2,451 onshore turbines currently operational, 416 under construction and a further 1,435 already consented, according to Renewable UK’s Wind Energy Database. The total number of offshore turbines operational, under construction or with planning permission is 537.

Lang Banks, director of green group WWF Scotland, said: “This is good news for all those concerned with cutting carbon emissions, creating jobs and keeping the lights on. However, if we’re to meet our aim of generating 100 percent of our electricity needs from renewables by 2020 then we’ll need to see continued … support in both Holyrood and Westminster.”

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