engineering careers  Scotland only just missed its 100% clean electricity target this year
engineering careers  Scotland only just missed its 100% clean electricity target this year

Scotland just missed this year 100% clean electricity consumption by only 1.4%.

Scotland is currently working to achieve an ambitious climate target of net-zero by 2045. 10 years ago it set its sight on 100% clean electricity consumption in 2020.

white sand beach during daytime

That target was extremely ambitious but it almost managed to hit it in 2020 with 98.6% of gross electricity consumption coming from renewable sources.

Energy targetsLatestTarget
Overall renewable energy target: total Scottish energy consumption from renewables25.4% in 202050% by 2030
Renewable electricity target: gross electricity consumption from renewables98.6% in 2020100% by 2020
Renewable heat target: non-electrical heat demand from renewables6.3% in 202011% by 2020
Energy consumption target: Reduction in total energy consumption from 2005-07Down 14.4% in 202012% by 2020
Energy productivity target: percentage change in gross value added achieved from the input of 1-gigawatt hour of energy from 2015Down 5.9% in 2020Up 30% in 2030
Source: Scottish government

The devils in the detail

While the stats are incredibly encouraging it important to remember that ‘gross electricity consumption’ is not the same as energy generation or includes gas used to heat homes ( in fact – non-electrical heat demand from renewables was only 6.3%, significantly lower than its 11% goal ).

The data presented also uses an estimate of consumption – not generation. 61.8% of all electricity generated in Scotland in 2020 was from clean energy sources with the remaining 38.2% coming from traditional sources.

There are a few reasons for this mismatch in the data.

Power from Renewables is not generated on demand like coal or gas can be ( a gas power station can burn more gas when demand peaks, a wind turbine works only when it is windy ). That means a lot of renewable energy generated is wasted with non-renewables making the difference up.

In reality closer to 56% of the electricity consumed in Scotland came from renewable sources, 30% from nuclear and 13% from fossil fuels.

However, the stats are still encouraging as renewables still account for far more of Scotland’s electricity consumption than in England and Wales, and the country seems on track to hit its 2030 targets.