photo: Bruce McAdam via flickr
Northern Ireland just outlined how it hopes to get 40% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020 and, apparently not to be outdone, First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond thinks that's not an ambitious enough target. Speaking to Reuters, Salmond said Scotland should be able to produce 100% its electricity from low-carbon sources by 2025.Prior to last week Scotland had a renewable energy target of 50% by 2020, but this was increased to 80%. Salmond thinks that's not enough, saying:
Scotland has unrivaled green energy resources and our new national target to generate 80% of electricity needs from renewables by 2020 will be exceeded by delivering current plans for wind, wave and tide generation. I'm confident that by 2025 we will produce at least 100% of our electricity needs from renewables alone, and together with other sources it will enable us to become a net exported of clean, green energy.
In other words, Scotland will still have some fossil fuel power plants in operation come 2025--Northern Ireland expects to still have natural gas as the main baseload until 2030 at least--but that its renewable energy plants will be exporting power to (presumably) England and Wales.
More Nations Should Follow Scotland's Lead
No matter, this is the sort of action every nation needs to take. None of this under-50% fractions of power by 2020-2030 and puttering on about impact on fossil fuel producers. As the report on Northern Ireland's renewables plans said (paraphrasing), the era of cheap energy is over. Get used to it. It's either starting an as-rapid-as-possible transition off fossil fuels now, or face higher energy costs and energy crunches in the future. Neither option is an easy option, but let's choose the one which offers an open road ahead and doesn't just end at a cliff.
Scotland Has 5+ Times the Renewable Energy Capacity it Needs
Currently Scotland has just under 3 GW of renewable energy capacity, the vast majority of which comes from onshore wind power. Estimates of total capacity are 11.5 GW of onshore wind, plus 25 GW offshore, 21.5 GW of wave and tidal stream power, 1.63 GW of hydro power (nearly all of which is currently tapped), and lesser amounts of biomass, geothermal, etc. In total Scotland could develop nearly 63 GW of low-carbon electricity capacity--that's a bit under six times more renewable capacity than is currently built from both fossil fuels and renewable energy.
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More on Renewable Energy:
Northern Ireland Sets 40% by 2020 Renewable Energy Target
California Approves New Renewable Energy Target: 33% by 2020 - Let's Hope It Stands Past November
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