Renewable energy is energy which is generated from the earth’s natural resources. This includes the use of wind, waves and tides which are all renewable resources that are naturally replenished.
Nowadays, renewables are acknowledged as the most sustainable, safest, clean and environmentally friendly ways of generating energy. These factors combined with our unrivalled natural resources will make the renewables sector a major industry in Scotland and will boost the Scottish economy significantly. Renewables therefore have the potential to generate billions of pounds of investment which will create thousands of sustainable and skilled jobs during a time of slow economic growth.
By contrast, the constant use of non-renewable, fossil fuels such as gas, oil and coal will inevitably mean that the cost of energy from these sources will continue to rise as these reserves become progressively depleted. This continued use will also present us with various long term problems and consequences which will be harmful to the environment, regional economies and the health and wellbeing of local communities.
You can view the amount of harmful greenhouse gases that are constantly added to the earth's atmosphere in our live Carbon Counter above. It is estimated that during the past 20 years approximately three quarters of carbon dioxide emissions come from burning fossil fuels.
In 2009, the European Union Heads of State and UK Government set a series of climate and energy targets which have to be met by 2020. These agreements state that the UK is responsible for increasing its energy consumption from renewable sources by 15% by 2020. The UK Government are so confident of achieving this target they believe that the figure could double to 30% by 2020.
Additionally, the Scottish Government are so committed to increasing the proportion of energy we use from renewable sources they have set themselves a target of 100% of electricity demand to be met by renewable technologies by 2020. They also aim to cut carbon emissions by 80% by 2050.
Our renewable energy resources are unrivalled in Europe as we have an estimated 25% share of the continents total offshore wind, wave and tidal resources. Furthermore, it is estimated that Scotland can lay claim to having 40% of the UK’s total resource - approximately 206GW (gigawatts). If Scotland utilised only one third of this potential capacity it would meet our total energy needs several times over by 2050.
Scotland therefore has an unrivalled advantage in an industry that is rapidly gathering pace. Due to the country’s plentiful renewable resources and our rich heritage as leaders in the fields of innovation and technology the opportunities that this presents us with are enormous and can help establish Scotland as a global leader in the renewable energy sector.