The term ‘Renewables’ isn’t just a buzzword anymore. As the world tries to find innovative new ways to power modern society, it has become clearer than ever that we need to move away from fossil fuels towards a cleaner, greener tomorrow. Scotland is dedicated to making the world a better place to live, and that’s one of the many reasons why we’re at the forefront of renewable energies.
We have a long and proud history of utilising the abundant natural resources found both on and off its shores. Simply put, we’ve been facing up to this inconvenient truth for a long time and this experience, mixed with leading innovation in both science and technology, means that Scotland is helping show the way for the rest of the world.
This isn’t the only impressive stat we’ve got; in fact, it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Whether it’s record-breaking tidal turbines, zero-emission public transport or aiding developing countries, Scotland is showing how seriously it takes this issue.
Take a look below at some of the impressive renewable energy projects happening in Scotland right now.
There is a global climate and nature emergency and we take our commitment to this challenge very seriously – how serious? For starters, our plans mean that Scotland’s contribution to climate change will end, definitively, within a generation.
In 2019, we amended our climate change legislation - committing to reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 at the latest. In doing so, we became a world-leader in the fight against climate change. The legislation also requires action to ensure that Scotland is resilient to the impacts of climate change. We are world renowned for having underpinned our net zero targets with a legislative commitment to a Just Transition – meaning no one is left behind as we work to end our contribution to climate change.
We know that 2045 is still a long way away, but to make sure we stay on track, we’ve also set ambitious interim targets for 2030 and 2040, as well as annual targets for each and every year. On our journey towards ‘net-zero’, the bill sets targets to reduce emissions by:
75% reduction by 2030
90% reduction by 2040
Climate change and biodiversity loss are the defining global challenges of our time, and we take our commitment to this challenge very seriously – as you can see! As an example of our dedication to this crucial fight, Scotland hosted the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference - known as COP 26. Here, experts and leaders from around the world gathered to tackle climate change and protect the planet for future generations.
At COP26, Scotland pledged £2m of the Climate Justice Fund to address loss and damage as a result of climate change. One year on, at COP27, the First Minister dedicated a further £5m, committed to specifically addressing non-economic and slow-onset loss and damage. With Malawi, Zambia and Rwanda, Bangladesh and fellow island nations in the Pacific, we are funding community resilience and sharing our climate change expertise.
25km off the coast of Peterhead, in the northeast of Scotland, you will find Hywind – the world’s first floating offshore wind farm. Comprised of five giant turbines, the blades of these mammoth offshore generators are being propelled by Scotland’s fierce North Sea wind. This farm alone generates enough renewable energy to power around 20,000 homes.
This pioneering project was a culmination of 15 years of hard work in collaboration with Norwegian firm, Statoil. The towering monoliths of power boast massive rotating blades that reach 175 metres from end to end. The structures also plunge a staggering 78 metres below the surface of the cold North Sea towards the seabed where they’re anchored in place.
Amazingly, Scotland potentially has enough resource to generate more power than Scotland itself needs for its entire consumption of energy! Because of this, it’s hardly surprising that companies like Equinor should seek us out for these projects, which are vital to our planet’s health and wellbeing.
It is vital that Scotland takes advantage of its natural advantages – particularly when it comes to our combination of high-speed winds and abundant deep waters. These assets provide the opportunity for Scotland to lead on deep water offshore wind technologies. That’s why we are putting together a new Sectoral Marine Plan for Offshore Wind Energy. Through this, we can ensure that the necessary strategies are in place to enable further commercial-scale offshore wind development in Scotland’s seas.
Scotland actually has a hydroelectricity programme that dates back as far as the 1950s, when we began using our rivers, lochs and waters to generate electricity. Amazingly, the infrastructure that was put in place back then still actually produces energy today and we continue to take a global lead in marine energy. We’re home to both the world’s largest tidal stream project as well as the world’s most powerful floating tidal turbine.
Today, the Orkney Islands are the epicentre of the marine energy industry and are home to the world’s only accredited marine energy laboratory. The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) is an international hub, enabling collaboration to harness the power of the sea all around the world. Orkney was chosen as the site because the environment and weather conditions here make it the ideal location for researching and developing all kinds of marine energy projects.
One such example is the revolutionary new SR2000 tidal turbine. Where most tidal turbines are fixed to the seabed, this one has rotors hanging from a device floating on the surface. In the 12 months since its introduction, the turbine amazingly generated more power than Scotland’s entire wave and tidal energy sector in the last 12 years.
In addition to the wide range of renewable energy sources currently helping to meet Scotland's energy needs, we continue to champion the marine energy sector in Scotland – supporting the research, development, innovation and demonstration that will maintain Scotland’s competitive advantage. Wave and tidal energy can not only play an important role in our own energy system but can also offer substantial enormous promise in tackling the global climate emergency.
That’s not all! Even massive international companies like Microsoft are turning to Scotland for their expertise in renewable energy research. In 2018, the company placed a massive data centre on the seabed off the coast of Orkney in a bid to boost energy efficiency. Projects like this are a perfect indication of how Scotland is maintaining its reputation as a world leader.
Continued progress is something that Scotland is keen to push and we’ve outlined this commitment with an ambitious but achievable target for our own renewable energy targets. We’re aiming to deliver the equivalent of 50% of total energy consumption from renewable sources by 2030.
This is a pledge that will come as a breath of fresh air for those that care for the wellbeing and the future of the planet. It also emphasises Scotland’s continued dedication to finding better ways the power the world in a more environmentally-friendly and sustainable way.