While many countries are complaining about the Copenhagen requirements, other countries are striving to go above and beyond the call of duty. Last week Northern Ireland stated that they were hoping to have 40 percent of the country running off renewable energy. This week, new First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond went even further, stating that the country could be running off of 100 percent renewable energy by 2025.
This ambitious goal happened a week after the SNP administration upped Scotland’s renewable energy goal from 50 percent to 80 percent by 2020. Salmond announced the 100 percent goal in front of the Scottish Low Carbon Investment Conference citing new Offshore Wind “Route Map” that would focus first on key areas to achieve immediate results:
- Investment in infrastructure;
- Appropriate supply chain;
- Ongoing innovation of technologies and practices;
- Regulation of and access to the electricity grid;
- Managing the marine environment;
- Necessary and available skills;
- Finance [Source: NewEnergy]
and also cited priority recommendations to give Scotland the best chance at securing the best-case scenario route map which includes increasing supply and demand of renewable energy, up-skilling or re-skilling of workforces, bringing in large investments and providing incentives to harbor and port owners for offshore wind farms. For the project to be successful, over £200 billion would be needed by 2020 for any chance of success. While this number may sound large, Salmond is confident that they will receive the funding and states, “Investment on this scale established today’s North Sea oil and gas industry. Scotland’s second wave of offshore energy offers unique investment opportunities…” [Source: STV news].
Salmond’s confidence that Scotland could run off of 100 percent renewable energy is also not unfounded. Scotland currently has under 3 GW of renewable energy capacity, mostly from onshore wind turbines, but it has the potential to generate up to 63 GW of low-carbon electricity, under six times more than the current model of fossil fuels and renewable energy. Scotland’s major source of energy would come from offshore windfarms and tidal stream power, with hyrdopower, biomass and geothermal making up a small fraction of the total power [Source: Treehugger]. Scotland has already tapped into tidal power after creating the world’s largest tidal power plant unveiled at the beginning of September 2010. This power plant generates enough power for 1,000 homes (around 1 MW of energy) [Source: Wired]. The coasts of Scotland could potentially harness around a quarter of Europe’s potential offshore wind and tidal capacity and a tenth of its wave resource. Besides being better for the environment, creating alternate power generators would also lead to 60,000 more jobs with 28,000 directly servicing domestic and international wind markets [Source: Business 7].
While Scotland would be weening the country off of fossil fuels, it will continue to maintain some coal and nuclear power plants to supply surplus energy to other countries, most notably the UK. This will actually mean that Scotland produces only 63 percent of its energy from renewable sources. Still, the aim is much higher than the baseline 20 percent standard for the rest of the EU nations and certainly higher than the US.