Scottish Renewable Energy Targets and Planning - Update

 

Jack W Ponton, FREng, October 2015

 

It is clear that there is now sufficient renewable electricity consented for Scottish and UK targets and obligations to be met and indeed significantly exceeded. In Scotland operational and consented capacity now have potential output of 124% of annual consumption.

Generation Capacity Target

There is no formal capacity target, Since load factor varies with technology installed capacity is not a straightforward indicator of output. Operational and consented capacity is now a total of 16.3GW. This comfortably exceeds the Audit Scotland suggested capacity range of  14-16GW.

 

Generation Output Target

This is the primary target which we have now taken to be 37.5TWh, the gross Scottish electricity consumption in 2012 as reported in the current Scottish Government summary.. (We note that this has been increased without explanation from the figure of 36.6TWh published in June 2014 which we have previously used.) Our August 2014 paper included a detailed analysis of output using DECC’s standard load factors for each technology. The majority of new consented capacity is wind and so output has been calculated using 34% load factor for offshore wind and 27% as an average for all other technologies. The potential output for all operational and consented capacity is 46.48TWh equivalent to 124% of requirement.

 

Constraints on Deployment of Consented Capacity

The wind industry has claimed that the early closure of the Renewables Obligation scheme to onshore wind could prevent deployment of existing consented capacity, and that there is therefore a need for new consents.. This argument is unconvincing; the only other requirements for continued eligibility are agreement on site and on grid connection, both of which a prudent developer would have secured before submitting an application. In any case, onshore wind capacity awaiting construction is 3.533GW against the 4.164GW of offshore unaffected by the early closure. The target could still be met if only 13% of consented onshore wind were built.

 

A more likely cause of failure to actually achieve the target by 2020 would be developers’ apparent preference for progressting new applications rather than building those already consented. In September 2013 there was 7.3GW operational or under construction, and 3.8GW consented. There is currently only a further 0.9GW operational or under construction while consents have risen to 8.2GW. Even if this were due to a shortage of construction resource, obtaining more consents would not help to reach the target.

 

Sources

Scottish Government, Energy Statistics Summary, September 2015, http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Business/Energy

 

J.W. Ponton, Scottish Renewable Energy Targets and Planning, issued by the Borders Network of Conservation Groups, http://www.bordersnetwork.co.uk/