Scotland: On Track to 100% Renewable Energy

Let’s start the year off with some good news. At least one country is on track to getting all its electricity from renewables, and that’s Scotland.

In December, the country’s wind farms produced 107% of its electricity, according to utility National Grid. And World Wildlife Fund (WWF) released a study showing Scotland’s electricity can be entirely fossil-free by 2020, meeting its ambitious target.

Throughout the year, wind provided all the power for 98% of households, and renewables matched fossil fuels for the first time. Renewables supplied 32% of all electricity, equal to oil, coal and gas, and coming close to nuclear (34.9%) – the top electricity source in Scotland.

In October, renewable energy quietly kept the lights on while nuclear reactors were closed because of cracks. And the government approved four huge offshore wind farms that will generate another 2.2 gigawatts of power for 1.4 million homes.

Scotland offshore wind

Even without strong solar resources, there’s enough to meet demand for most households during June and July, and for 60%-plus in March, April, May, August and September, according to WWF’s report.

"Scotland has plenty of renewables in the pipeline to cut the carbon from its power supply by 2030, particularly if we see progress on reducing electricity demand. And crucially, Scotland can continue to be an electricity exporting nation," notes lead author Paul Gardner. "There is no technical reason requiring conventional fossil and nuclear generation in Scotland."

Wind is breaking records across the UK, growing 15% in 2014. It supplies 9.3% of all electricity, up from 7.8% in 2013. In December, wind hit a record 14% of total electricity.

All this comes when Prime Minister Cameron has said "enough with onshore wind," promising to block further development if Conservatives win in May’s election, as he promotes fracking.

Globally, offshore wind is expected to grow fivefold by 2020, to 40 gigawatts, up from 7.1 GW in 2013, according to GlobalData, largely in the UK, Germany and China.

Read our articles, UK Approves 5 Offshore Wind Projects, Powering 3 Million Homes and Wind Can Supply Half the World’s Power.

Marine Energy

This month, the world’s largest tidal energy project breaks ground in Scotland, with 400 megawatts of energy eventually supplying 175,000 homes. About 60 of 269 turbines in the MayGen project will be running by 2020, says developer Atlantis Resources.

That’s even while marine energy is experiencing growing pains, with leaders like Scotland’s Pelamis Wave Power bankrupt after running out of money, and Siemens exiting the industry for faster developing sectors. Most marine energy companies are struggling.

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