Scotland beats renewable heat target

2nd October 2012

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Scotland is on course to meet its 2020 target for renewable heating after beating its interim goal of 3.5% in 2011, confirms energy minister Fergus Ewing

According to the devolved government’s latest figures, renewable sources, such as biomass and geothermal energy, generated 3.8% of Scotland’s heat in 2011.

Ewing said the figures confirmed Scotland was “more than on target” to meet its 2020 goal to generate 11% of heat from renewable sources, as he named the latest organisations to be awarded government loans under the second annual round of funding for its district heating scheme.

Successful applicants will share more than £2 million. They include Angus College, which has been loaned £400,000 to build a 500kW woodchip-fuelled heating system for its campus, and Shetland firm North Fish, which is to spend £150,000 on a 195kW wood-pellet-fuelled biomass unit that will power its own operations and one other business.

“This government is committed to supporting the development of low-carbon district heating networks in Scotland, helping homes and businesses stay warm with minimum impact to the environment,” said Ewing.

“The high start-up costs involved can mean schemes fail to get off the ground because commercial finance isn’t available. By offering these loans, we are helping communities to help themselves, developing affordable, green and locally produced heat.”

The renewable heat announcements came after DECC confirmed that 2011 was a record-breaking year for renewable electricity generation in Scotland, with renewable technologies generating 35% of the country’s electricity demand – beating its 31% target for 2011.

DECC’s data also reveals that in 2011 England had, for the first time, more renewable generating capacity than Scotland. This is due mainly to the conversion of the Tilbury B power station in Essex from coal to biomass.

According to the energy department’s latest calculations, renewable technologies generated 9.6% of the UK’s electricity during the second quarter of 2012 – up 0.6% on the same period in 2011 – and that overall renewable capacity has increased by more than 40% in the last 12 months.

DECC’s figures also confirm that energy consumption rose by 0.8% in April-June 2012 compared to the previous 12 months, due to colder weather. Increases in the price of gas, however, resulted in the lowest rate of gas consumption for 14 years, but the highest rate of coal being burned to generate electricity in more than a decade.

In a bid to boost gas production, the Scottish government has confirmed a new £10 million innovation fund for the sector. Meanwhile, UK energy secretary Ed Davey welcomed the announcement that a new 800MW gas-powered plant will be built near Manchester.

“Conventional gas-fired power generation needs to remain in the energy mix for some time, even as we seek to develop alternative low carbon technologies such as renewables, nuclear and carbon capture and storage,” said Davey. “We urgently need to replace some of our ageing coal power stations and gas is relatively quick to build and half as polluting.”


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