A WWF report that was published on Monday has taken a hard look at Scotland’s environmental policies and has revealed that it’s in fact not only likely that Scotland will be fossil fuel-free by 2030, but that it’s also the cheaper and safer option than if they were to continue fossil-fuel based development.
DNV-GL, a consultancy firm, tested out the feasibility of the Scottish government’s current environmental policies which includes a goal to decarbonize the country by 2030. The goal is to bring the carbon intensity in the country down from 271 grams of CO2/kwh to 50 grams CO2/kwh.
Another target they’ve set is to provide 100% of electricity from renewables by 2020 – however, this goal still allows for coal and gas to remain on the grid.
Scotland’s decarbonization policy is based on the assumption that carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology will be up and running on a large scale, an assumption that the WWF deems as uncertain condition considering that there are no commercial-scale CCS operations in the UK. However, the government is on the bridge of deciding between two competitors in their £1 billion commercialization competition for the technology: The Peterhead CCS project and the White Rose project at Drax.
However, the report concludes that, while the policy relies heavily on CCS technology, it isn’t required to decarbonize Scotland’s electricity sector and states that “a renewables-based, efficient, flexible, electricity system is perfectly feasible by 2030.”
It appears that Scotland’s abundance of wind and wave energy resources and strong tradition of engineering innovation have worked in their favor.
Already, renewables are the country’s biggest electricity generator, far outstripping nuclear, coal and gas. And moreover, in October and November Scotland’s wind turbines were reportedly able to produce more energy than all of the country’s domestic electricity needs.
WWF reported that, taking into consideration the current situation in Scotland, the renewables projects will be “more than adequate” to hit the country’s decarbonisation target.
But it’s not only good for the earth, the report also reveals that the project will also be good for Scotland’s pockets. Because the cost of creating wind energy is so low, to meet the goal Scotland will have to spend just £663m a year, which is substantially less than their usual £1.85bn costs.
Paul Garnder, lead author of the report for DNV GL stated:
“our technical analysis shows that a system with an extremely high proportion of renewable electricity generation located in Scotland can be secure and stable. There is no technical reason requiring conventional fossil and nuclear generation in Scotland. Scotland has plenty of renewables in the pipeline to cut the carbon from its power supply by 2030, particularly if we see progress on reducing electricity demand. And crucially, Scotland can continue to be an electricity exporting nation.”
The report also outlines a few glaring issues, such as a need for more funding and “clear regularly signals” that promise not to incentivize coal. However, the most crucial warning was that Scotland not rely solely on CCS technologies given the environmental minister’s slow progress on this front and they should look for alternative paths to achieve their desired fossil-fuel free goal.
Gina Hanrahan, the climate and energy policy officer at WWF Scotland, said:
“the report shows that not only is a renewable, fossil-fuel free electricity system perfectly feasible in Scotland by 2030, it’s actually the safe bet. Pursuing this pathway would allow Scotland to maintain and build on its position as the UK and Europe’s renewable powerhouse, cut climate emissions and continue to reap the jobs and investment opportunities offered by Scotland’s abundant renewable resources.”
Here’s hoping that Scotland take the report’s recommendations on board and succeed in their policies!