Renewable energy in Scotland Contents


1.Renewable energy is currently in the spotlight and is seen as one of the major ways to tackle climate change. COP26 is being hosted by the UK and Italy, with the Climate Change Conference taking place in Glasgow in November 2021. The UK Government has set a legal net zero target by 2050,1 and the Scottish Government has set targets for 2045.2 The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2021 special report highlights the drastic consequences of not reducing carbon emissions:

Scientists are observing changes in the Earth’s climate in every region and across the whole climate system, […] Many of the changes observed in the climate are unprecedented […] and some of the changes already set in motion—such as continued sea level rise—are irreversible […] However, strong and sustained reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases would limit climate change.3

2.Renewable energy comes from sources that are constantly and naturally renewed:4 examples include wind, wave, tidal, solar and hydro.5 Scotland has an abundance of these renewable energy resources; in 2020, 97.4% of electricity consumption in Scotland was from renewable energy sources.6 The only accredited wave and tidal test centre for marine renewable energy in the world, European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), is based in Orkney.7 In 2019, renewable electricity generated from wind in Scotland came to 23.2TWh.8 Currently there are, 14.0GW of renewable electricity projects are consented and in the pipeline for development in Scotland, of these 2.0GW are under construction.9 Scotland has ideal conditions for tidal energy production, and we have heard that this industry has great potential for growth, both in the supply chain and also with jobs for Scottish people.10 This is the ideal time to look at the opportunities Scotland has with renewable energy.

3.Within this report, we have chosen to focus on four key issues, which the UK Government should consider in relation to renewable energy: the grid and transmission charges; the supply chain; funding for renewable energy; and employment within the renewable energy sector.

Our inquiry

4.We launched our inquiry, Renewable energy in Scotland, on 19 March 2021 and published a call for written evidence.11 As part of the inquiry we held five public oral evidence sessions. This included an evidence session in Kirkwall during a Committee visit to view the European Marine Energy Centre’s tidal test site in Orkney. We thank everyone who has contributed to our inquiry. We would also like to thank our hosts and everybody who took the time to speak to us on our visit to Orkney. We are particularly grateful to Professor David Ingram, our Specialist Adviser for the inquiry, whose support and contributions provided vital insights into this important subject matter.12

5.Our inquiry spanned across several months. We made every effort to ensure that the findings of this Report are accurate and up to date; however, we realise that the issue of renewable energy is a fast-moving topic and there is the potential for some aspects of this report to be out of date shortly after publication.

1 The initial target set out in 2008 was an 80% reduction of 1990 levels by 2050. This was amended by Climate Change Act 2008 (2050 Target Amendment) Order 2019 to net zero by 2050

2 Scottish Government, Climate Change Policy - Reducing greenhouse gas emissions, December 2020

3 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Special report: Global Warming of 1.5 ºC, 9 August 2021

4 National Grid, What is green energy?, accessed 12 August 2021

5 Scottish Renewables, Statistics, accessed 23 April 2021

6 Scottish Government, Energy Statistics for Scotland Q4 2020 Figures, 25 March 2021

7 For more information see the visit note

8 Scottish Government, Energy Statistics for Scotland Q4 2020 Figures, 25 March 2021

9 Scottish Government, Energy Statistics for Scotland Q4 2020 Figures, 25 March 2021

11 Scottish Affairs Committee, Renewable Energy in Scotland: call for evidence, 19 March 2021

12 Professor David Ingram was appointed on 13 May 2021 (see the Committee’s formal minutes). He had two interests to declare (for further details see the Committee’s formal minutes).

Published: 17 September 2021 Site information    Accessibility statement