Renewable energy in Scotland from wind farms, hydro power plants and other clean technologies provided the single largest source of electricity to the country for the first time, in the first half of 2014, new industry figures will show on Thursday.
Analysis by the trade body Scottish Renewables shows that renewables produced nearly one third more power than nuclear, coal or gas in the first six months of the year, generating a record 10.4 terawatt hours (TWh) during the six-month period.
The analysis was compiled by comparing Energy Trends data produced by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) on renewable energy output with figures produced by National Grid on coal, gas and nuclear power.
Many renewable energy sources do not feed into the National Grid, and instead are part of a local distribution network, meaning it is difficult for National Grid to compare how renewables are fairing compared to traditional sources of energy.
Niall Stuart, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, said the record figures marked “an historic” moment for the renewable energy industry, as well as a major milestone for the Scottish government’s plans to generate 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
“The announcement… shows the investment made in the sector is helping to deliver more power than ever before to our homes and businesses,” he said. “This important milestone is good news for anyone who cares about Scotland’s economy, our energy security and our efforts to tackle climate change.”
The Decc data reveals onshore wind and hydro power remain Scotland’s main sources of renewable energy, but Stuart said there is significant potential for offshore wind and wave and tidal power if they receive sufficient government support, including new grid connections to Scottish islands.
Scotland’s Business, energy and tourism minister, Fergus Ewing, said the figures highlight the potential that renewable energy has to replace nuclear power.
“The fact that energy from renewables has exceeded that from nuclear in the first half of 2014, highlights the vast potential of renewable generation to provide a safe, secure and cost-effective means of electricity generation for this country, together with appropriate levels of thermal generation,” he said. “It is vital that appropriate support for renewables in Scotland is maintained following the introduction of electricity market reform in the UK.”
He added that this year looked set to become a record 12 months for renewable electricity generation in Scotland.