Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Plans in place to meet our green energy targets 'three times over'

Published Date: 09 December 2009
By Jenny Fyall
SCOTLAND would meet its 2020 renewable energy targets three times over if all the schemes currently planned were granted permission.
There are enough on- and offshore wind farms, hydro projects and marine renewable schemes in the pipeline to generate 26,073 megawatts of electricity, according to a new report by Scottish Natural Heritage.This is more than three times that needed to meet the 2020 targets of 50 per cent of electricity generated from renewables – which would require about 8,000MW. SNH said the statistics showed "excellent" progress was being made towards renewable energy in Scotland.However, the report also highlighted concerns about the impact of so many wind farms and other renewables developments on the landscape and vulnerable habitats, such as peat.The report from SNH said 2,834MW of renewables were up and running, and another 3,739MW had been granted consent, but was yet to be built. Another 9,000MW of onshore renewables are in the planning system as well as 8,500MW offshore wind and up to 2,000MW of marine renewables by 2020.That all adds up to 26,073MW – enough to meet Scotland's targets three times over."Thus, Scotland can easily meet its existing renewables ambitions, and could easily meet 100 per cent of our electricity needs, based on the resource available," said the report.However, there are worries about the number of wind farms planned for Scotland, with campaigners raising concerns that they are damaging the environment. Figures from Scottish Renewables show there are 1,382 onshore turbines either operating or being built in Scotland. Permission has been granted for another 938, and there are plans for about 1,800 more. Jane Clark, the head of sustainable land use at SNH, said: "Scotland possesses exceptional renewable energy resources and the industry is expanding rapidly. Our role is to help developers and planners to exploit this huge potential at an acceptable cost to equally outstanding, and economically valuable, landscapes and wildlife."SNH's report revealed that it had dealt with more than 1,300 renewable energy applications. Three-quarters of which met with no objection from the organisation.A spokesman for Scottish Renewables said there was still a long way to go to meet the target of 50 per cent of electricity from renewables by 2020.Jenny Hogan, wind energy specialist at Scottish Renewables, said: "If we are serious about climate change, then we need to be serious about the rapid growth of wind power both on and offshore in the next decade."With the equivalent of around a quarter of Scotland's electricity demand coming from renewables, there is still a very long way to go."However, Helen McDade, head of policy for the John Muir Trust, said: "With Scotland on track to meet its electricity renewable targets, it is time to stop trying to build our way out of climate change. "Climate change targets are best tackled by improving energy conservation and cutting emissions from transport, rather than endlessly expanding renewable developments in some of our most sensitive and precious landscapes."