Published on June 2nd, 2015 | by Elizabet Waddington
Sustainable Scotland: Leading the Way in Renewables
All to often in the field of the environment and sustainability we get an endless litany of bad news, but over the last year or so the news about renewable energy has often been positive and inspiring. China and the US obviously have the most spending power and so have made the greatest investment in renewable energy. They still have a long way to go to meet energy targets. Other countries, however, have been leading the way when it comes to green energy. Denmark broke records in 2014 by producing over 39% of their energy through wind generated power and aims to be a 100% renewable country by 2050. 26% of Germany’s energy came from clean sources and the UK and Ireland both hit new records for their own levels of renewable energy. But within the UK and in Europe as a whole, it is Scotland who are proving a world-leader when it comes to clean energy.
In 2014 Scotland had a ‘massive year’ for renewables. Wind turbines alone across the country provided electricity for more than 100% of households in the country for six months of the year. When there was less wind in the summer, it was noted that the major cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Inverness all had enough sunshine to generate enough energy to run the average home in June and July. There are a number of ways in which Scotland and the Scottish Government have invested in the country’s future, wind is predominant but wave and water power are also used. So successful has been the dedication to renewables that the Scottish Government announced in March of this year that the country is within a hair’s breadth of meeting its interim target of 50% of renewable electricity a year earlier than scheduled. Sources both inside and outside the country are confident that Scotland can be 100% energy dependent in terms of electricity by 2020.
Unfortunately, progressive policies of sustainability north of the border are held back by policies of the Westminster government, who insist on investing in nuclear power and fracking and are neglecting the field of renewable electricity generation. The stronger Scottish National Party presence in Westminster since the recent election, is, it must be hoped, good news in terms of sustainability targets for the UK as a whole. Perhaps the Westminster government of David Cameron will learn from Scotland’s expertise and successes in this field, as have many others from countries all around the world.
The Scottish island of Eigg is one of the first entirely energy self-sufficient communities in the world. Through a mixture of wind and solar power everyone who lives on this Small Island has electricity supplied 24-7. This has proved a model for community empowerment and has inspired people from other parts of the world where it is not viable nor economically sensible to connect every house to the grid. The need for land to be in the control of local communities and used for their benefit is also a key lesson demonstrated in this small northern European country.
Scotland can show the world that you should make the most of what you have got in terms of renewables. Scotland also shows the jobs and investment that can come with investment in green energy. Scotland is not sustainable yet, but it is well on the way to becoming so: a powerhouse of the environmental movement in Europe.