Scotland’s Energy Policy

The Scottish Government decided to increase its target for renewable electricity in 2020 from 50% – first to 80% in September 20101 and then to 100% in May 2011.2

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing MSP launched an action plan to drive forward Scotland’s renewables revolution, and meet targets, in June 2011. The Renewables Route Map outlines the steps needed to meet ambitious targets, including supplying 100% of electricity demand equivalent from renewables by 2020.3 It also sets out plans for achieving renewables targets for heat and transport and sets a new target to meet 30% of total energy (as opposed to just electricity) demand from renewables by 2020, up from the previous target of 20%. This puts Scotland on a par with leading European countries – the target is double the UK target. The roadmap also sets a new target to deliver 500MW of community and locally owned renewable energy by 2020, and outlines a commitment to develop strategies for microgeneration and agri-renewables.4

The Route Map argues the electricity target should not be considered in isolation from other energy and climate change targets all of which create a degree of interdependency. In particular it highlights the interrelationship between electricity and heat targets. The Scottish Government has a target to provide 11% of heat from renewables by 2020.5 The Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 sets a target to reduce Scotland’s emissions of greenhouse gases by 80 per cent by 2050.6

The Route Map makes clear the Scottish Government is aiming for an output equivalent to 100% of Scotland’s demand for electricity to be met from renewable sources. This does not mean Scotland will be 100% dependent on renewables: renewable energy will be part of a wider electricity mix. This means, for example, that despite saying in May that Scotland is ideally placed to follow a similar route to Germany7 where eight nuclear reactors which were opened between 1975 and 1984 were closed following the Fukushima disaster, Energy Minister Fergus Ewing supports the idea of extending the life of Scotland’s existing nuclear reactors.

WWF Scotland expressed disappointment about the plans for heating and transport.8 It said Scotland could secure at least 50% of total energy needs from renewables by 2030 by implementing an ambitious energy efficiency programme. Scotland looks set to beat the current target of generating 11% of heat from renewables, so that target should be reset to at least 20% by 2020 to help drive this sector forward. WWF also want to see a clear commitment to secure at least 300,000 electric vehicles by 2020, including the publication of the long-awaited action plan to ensure coordinated delivery.

The Scottish Government published “Low Carbon Scotland: Meeting our Emissions Reduction Targets 2013-2027: The Draft Second Report on Proposals and Policies” on 29 January 2013 – better known as RPP2.9 A briefing by the Scottish Parliamentary Information Centre (SPICE)10 provides a useful summary and considers some key questions raised by the report, including how it responds to statutory requirements under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009. (See Safe Energy No.59 for more information)

1. BBC 23rd September 2010
2. Scottish Government Press Release 18th May 2011
3. Scottish Government Press Release 30th June 2011 and 2020 Routemap for Renewable Energy in Scotland
4. Business Green 30th June 2011
5. Renewable Heat in Scotland, Scottish Government website accessed 14th November 2012
6. Climate Change Act, Scottish Government website accessed 14th November 2012.
7. Scotsman 31st May 2011 
8. WWF Scotland Press Release 30th June 2011
9. Scottish Government 29th January 2013
10. Scottish Parliament 5th Feb 2013


Published: 26 October 2012
Last updated: 24 June 2013