Scotland can achieve its target to decarbonise its electricity sector by 2030 without relying on carbon capture and storage (CCS), according to a report by WWF.
The report, based on technical analysis by energy consultants DNV GL, found that Scotland’s electricity system could be almost entirely based on renewables by 2030 if energy efficiency is improved.
The Scottish government’s routemap for renewable energy, published in 2011, states that CCS will be a vital if the country is to decarbonise its power sector by 2030.
CO2 storage capacity in Scottish waters is the largest in the EU, greater than the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany combined, the government claims. It wants the country to become a world-leader in developing CCS, which it believes could create up to 5,000 jobs and be worth £3.5 billion to the Scottish economy.
The UK government is funding research into implementing CCS at SSE’s combined cycle gas plant at Peterhead in Aberdeenshire as part of its CCS commercialisation competition.
However, WWF is concerned about the slow pace of developing CCS technology and warns there is no guarantee that it will be commercially viable by 2030, putting Scotland’s target at risk.
Basing the decarbonisation target on renewables would be more secure and cheaper than government scenarios indicate, WWF says.
“We’d still like to see CCS tested at Peterhead, but given how slowly this technology is progressing, it makes sense to explore alternative paths to achieving the government’s own target.
"The report shows that not only is a renewable, fossil-fuel free electricity system perfectly feasible in Scotland by 2030, it’s actually the safe bet,” said Gina Hanrahan, climate and energy policy officer at WWF Scotland.
Renewable energy generation in Scotland equalled the amount of electricity produced by fossil fuels in 2013, according to energy statistics published in December by the UK government.