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Different takes on renewable targets

THURSDAY’S announcement that the Scottish government has increased its target for electricity from renewables from 50 to 80 per cent by 2020, has been welcomed by WWF Scotland.

Its director Richard Nixon said: “With the right renewables in the right places Scotland can not only provide for our own domestic needs but also become a major exporter of clean, green energy.  We will be playing to our natural advantages in wind, wave and tidal power and help to create at least 60,000 jobs in the process.

“Renewables technology has always outstripped government targets, with the previous 50 per cent by 2020 target likely to be met as early as 2014. 

“With the right framework Scotland can go further and secure 100 per cent of Scotland’s electricity demand from renewables by 2020. 

“The Scottish government must also match their renewables commitments with a step change in the attention given to energy efficiency and demand reduction.”

But reacting to the opening of the Thanet wind farm off Kent on the same day, the largest offshore windfarm to date, Alex Desbarres, of market analysis company Datamonitor, warned that the UK’s renewable power ambitions were not likely to be met.

“It is much more likely that the UK’s renewable power ambitions may actually reduce the country’s security of supply, will not keep the threat of climate change at bay, will be very costly and in all likelihood, will not be met.
“Because of its intermittent nature, wind power generation must be backed-up by ‘dirty’ fossil-fuelled power generation.

“The country’s current renewable energy ambitions are therefore likely to usher in a matching ‘dash for gas’ to maintain security of supply, with the risks this implies for greater exposure on gas imports.
“Wind power is the obvious political low hanging fruit. It has been hand-picked by this and the previous government over other forms of power generation, and while it does have a part to play in the UK’s energy mix, it is not the silver bullet the media often makes it out to be,” he said.