Scotland set to decarbonise electricity

31st January 2013

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The Scottish government is to set an 85% carbon reduction target for its electricity sector, after the coalition deferred setting a UK-wide target until at least 2016

Speaking at a renewable energy conference, first minister Alex Salmond announced that the devolved administration was going to set targets limiting carbon emissions for electricity to just 50g per kilowatt hour in 2030.

The target follows the recommendations of the committee on climate change (CCC), on what was necessary to meet the UK’s legally-binding carbon budgets, and will mean that emissions from electricity generation will have to fall by 85% compared with 2010 output, which produced 347g/kWh.

The 2030 target will help Scotland to lower emissions and provide the burgeoning offshore wind and marine energy sectors with the long-term certainty they need, claimed Salmond.

“We face a global imperative to tackle climate change and how we power our economies is a key part of that,” he said. “Scotland’s in a very good position with renewable energy because we’ve got the resource – the wind, the waves and tidal power – and … because we’ve shown the political coherence and determination to take advantage of these natural resources.

“One of the most important things that you can do to give confidence to investors is to set [decarbonisation] targets, not for next year or the year after, but for 2030. That’s a declaration of faith in the renewables industry.”

The announcement was welcomed by Niall Stuart, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, who said the carbon reduction goal would support not only developers but companies throughout the sector’s supply chain.

“The decarbonisation target for Scotland by 2030, gives a very clear direction of travel; that the government wants to clean up the power sector and see more renewables not just between now and 2020, but in the ten years after,” commented Stuart.

The Scottish administration’s move came after the UK government failed to include an electricity decarbonisation target in the Energy Bill and deferred making a decision on introducing any such target until at least 2016.

In his speech, Salmond criticised his counterparts in London.

“UK coalition ministers’ mixed messages on energy policy and continuing uncertainty around Electricity Market Reform, including the lack of a decarbonisation target until at least 2016, is undermining confidence and threatening investment by the supply chain.

“Having stated our ambition for a largely-decarbonised electricity supply by 2030 … I join the industry, again, in urging Westminster to follow suit.”

Following Salmond’s announcement, Labour MP Alan Whitehead tabled amendments to the Energy Bill in the House of Commons that would insert the same 50g/kWh target into the Bill.

“A 50g/kWh target on the face of the Energy Bill would deliver a clear, unambiguous signal to investors and the public that the government is serious about decarbonising our electricity supply,” said Whitehead.

“These amendments set a clear benchmark for whether this Energy Bill will be taken seriously by businesses looking to invest in the UK, and whether or not the government will ever be taken seriously on its energy and environment pledges in the future.”

The Energy Bill is now being examined by the public bill committee ahead of its third reading in the House of Commons.

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