The Scottish Government’s target of producing all of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020 has been attached by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).
IMechE says, in a highly critical report, that the target is not “supported by a rigorous engineering analysis of what is physically required”. The plans to achieve it are poorly worked out, uncosted and unrealistic, it claims.
The report says the Scottish Government’s plans do not include stable sources of renewable electricity like biomass or geothermal to provide baseload supply when wind or solar power sources fail to provide enough electricity during unfavourable weather conditions.
The report also warns that achieving the target could “quickly cost billions”, pushing up energy prices for consumers and potentially increasing fuel poverty.
The deadline for the target is unfeasible, adds the report, and would require the construction of new renewable generating capacity at five times the current rate.
A more sensible approach would be to focus on improving energy efficiency first before investing in new generating capacity, suggests the report.
The IMechE analysis calculates that electricity is actually the smallest component of Scotland’s energy demand, with heat and transport making up higher proportions.
The focus of the Government on electricity is, therefore, “misplaced”, says the organisation. And even if the target could be reached, it would not achieve the Government’s other goal if an overall 20% of energy demand from renewables.
However, the Scottish Government says its plans are to develop “the equivalent” of 100% of the region’s electricity needs from renewables sources by 2020, with ‘cleaner’ fossil fuels like gas providing baseload electricity.
For further information:
The Crown Estate blows ahead 5 GW of offshore wind in Scottish waters (31-Oct)
Scotland announces £35 million boost for offshore renewables (28-Sept)
Low-carbon economy ‘key priority’ for Scottish Government (13-Sept)
New Scottish Government pledges 100% renewable electricity by 2020 (19-May)
04 November 2011