I would like to address some of the concerns expressed in the Energy Voice opinion piece ‘SR crows about renewables supply chain performance overseas – I beg to differ‘, December 13th.
In answer to the queries on how many companies took part in our survey and over what time period their investments were made, we stated clearly in our press release that 44 companies took part in the survey and those contracts were placed over a five-year period.
There are clear economic opportunities for Scotland’s renewables companies, both at home and abroad, and we are proud of the contribution our members are making to Scotland’s economy.
I agree that there is plenty more potential for investment to be made across all renewable energy sectors, but some of this will be dependent on policy decisions made principally by the UK Government.
I would reiterate that the renewable energy targets set by Scottish Government to generate the equivalent of 100% of our electricity needs, and 20% of all our energy needs, from renewables by 2020 are indeed stretching.
Renewables now supply enough power to meet the equivalent of 57% of our electricity demand, but we still have a long way to go to meet the 2020 target, and even further to go to meet our heat and transport targets.
Scotland also has legally binding climate change targets, and we hope that the Scottish Government’s forthcoming Energy Strategy will adopt Scottish Renewables’ call to introduce a new target for at least 50% of Scotland’s total energy needs – in heat, power and transport – to come from renewable sources in 2030.
Adopting this target would enable us to continue to build on the economic and environmental benefits our industry is already delivering.
I would also like to address assertions around the local content of UK renewable energy projects.
What our latest research shows is that Scotland’s renewable energy businesses are now operating, and competing, in a global marketplace. To further expand this activity, we must continue to reduce costs as well as providing exceptional expertise.
With greater ambition and investment from all levels of government comes greater deployment of renewables, which in turn fuels growth in our domestic supply chain.
It is that growth – and the cost reductions it enables – which will have most impact on increasing the competitiveness of UK businesses and increasing the local content of UK renewables projects.
The author is right that the likes of Spain, Germany and Denmark are reaping the economic success of significant early investment in onshore wind technology. That lead is one which once belonged to the UK, but was lost through lack of investment at a crucial juncture.
Government should take heed and invest now in earlier-stage technologies like wave, tidal, storage and renewable heat solutions, or risk losing out again.
When Scottish Renewables was established in 1996 the proportion of our electricity needs met by renewables was around 8%. Today it’s 57%. And our industry employs around 20,000 people, and more than 13 million tonnes of CO2 were displaced by renewables last year alone.
There’s much more still to do, and we mustn’t lose the momentum we have built up to date, but I’d call that a successful contribution to both our economy and to our environment.
Jenny Hogan is the director of policy of Scottish Renewables.