Renewable Energy Targets
Britain's energy policies operate within targets set by the Climate Change Act (2008) and the EU's Renewables Directive (2009). Under the Climate Change Act Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions are to be cut by 34% by 2020 and by 80% by 2050 compared with the 1990 level. Under the Renewables Directive, Britain is committed to sourcing 15% of the total energy consumed by end users, such as households and businesses, from renewables by 2020.
The Scottish Government aims to have renewable energy meet 100% of Scotland's electricity needs, as well as 11% of heat, by 2020. These are among the most ambitious renewable energy targets in the world. In October 2012 an interim electricity target of 50%7 by 2015 was set. The total energy consumption target is set at 20%8 - above the UK level, with emissions to be cut by 42% as well.
It has to be pointed out that energy for heat accounts for approximately 50% of all of Scotland's energy needs10. In 2011, around 0.484GW of renewable heat capacity was operational in Scotland, producing an estimated 2,263GWh of useful renewable heat11. This equates to 3.8% of Scotland's total forecast nonelectrical heat demand in 202012 and the Scottish Government is on track to reach its 11% 2020 target.
Furthermore, heat accounts for approximately 47% of all CO2 emissions in Scotland. This underlines the importance of focusing on energy efficiency measures that lower demand. The Scottish Government's energy target is fundamentally underpinned by renewable electricity and especially wind farms, but we need just as much effort to promote renewable heat schemes - especially micro-renewable schemes for households off the gas grid - energy efficiency measures and cleaner transport.
The 100% renewable electricity target is arbitrary and unnecessary, especially in light of statistics that show at present we are already set to source 66.9% of our electricity needs from renewable sources over the coming years - based on projects consented and under construction.
Number of Wind Turbines
Most recent figures suggest there are 4,366 operational wind turbines across the UK, with a total operational capacity of 8,357 MW. The latest Scottish current installed capacity is at 3,811 MW and Renewable UK figures show there are 1,966 operational turbines across Scotland.
If all the wind farms that are under construction (439) or consented (890) are eventually built, we will see another 1,329 wind turbines erected across Scotland. It follows that over the next few years we will have around 1,295 turbines in Scotland alone.
However, there is also a vast array of wind farm applications in planning stages at the moment. If all the planned projects get planning consent, we could see another 1,873 turbines erected. The combined total could reach 5,168 turbines across Scotland.