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Our Planet – and continuing encouragement for renewable energy in Scotland

Our Planet – and continuing encouragement for renewable energy in Scotland

Neil Bruce

The sound of one of the most distinguishable voices of broadcasting on the natural world giving a stark warning on climate change has provoked significant attention from the opening ceremony of the current Conference of the Parties convention (COP 24) being held in Katowice, Poland.

Sir David Attenborough, in taking up the “People’s Seat” (to act as a link between the public and policy-makers at the summit), cited climate change as the world’s greatest threat in thousands of years – warning that “…we are facing a man-made disaster of global scale…and [I]f we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon.”

Climate change is of course a global challenge that impacts on every person and every organisation across the world.  Concerted action is required to address the issue, and the Paris Agreement signed in 2016 represents the first truly global plan to tackle climate change – albeit it does not become operational until 2020, and it has been well publicised that the US have withdrawn from the Agreement. 

Action is required from all stakeholders – be that government, business organisations, public bodies and individuals - as a transition towards low-carbon technologies and practices takes shape.

Scotland can be seen as a forerunner in terms of meeting targets on climate change; with the country already ahead of the targets set for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and the Scottish Government upping their 2050 target for reducing emissions from 80% to 90% against 1990 levels (albeit it is acknowledged that there has been some criticism of whether even that will be sufficient to comply with what is required in terms of the Paris Agreement).

Renewable energy generation is of course only part of the answer, with issues such as transport and heat also firmly in the spotlight; but the continued support for renewable energy in Scotland and the clear focus and interest in continuing to develop projects north of the border is hugely encouraging for the industry.

Of late we have also seen ScottishPower’s recent shift to generating electricity solely from wind power; SSE announcing plans to hive-off its renewable energy assets in the UK and Ireland into a single renewables business; significant progress with offshore wind projects such as Beatrice, Neart Na Gaoithe and Moray East; and developments with Crown Estate Scotland’s next leasing round for offshore wind projects (as well as The Crown Estate developing plans for the next round of leasing around the rest of the UK).

Added to that, island wind is to be included alongside offshore wind in the next CfD auction, and there is continued interest in solar power projects in Scotland (in the last few weeks a screening application was lodged for a solar farm in Angus with a maximum capacity of 49.99MW).

Climate change most certainly is a critical issue, and there are many elements that need to come together to tackle it. The renewables industry in Scotland has played a key role in Scotland’s progress to date, and it is pleasing to see the continued focus on bringing forward new projects to help meet ambitious but necessary climate change targets. The opportunities that this will bring should see Scotland continue to be one of the leaders in the field.  

By Neil Bruce

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