Wind & Rain Good News For Scotland’s Renewable Production in 2022

A 2022 windy and rainy Scotland was a boost for the generation of renewable energy.

The latest statistics on Scotland’s energy production (not oil and gas reserves) showed that over the first nine months of 2022, generation was up 34.7% compared to the same period in 2021

Final figures for 2021 show that the equivalent of 85.2% of all electricity used in Scotland (total generation minus net exports) came from renewable sources. Due to slightly better weather in 2021 this was actually a slight decrease, but has bounced back up again with the 2022 figures.

The energy that is generated in Scotland is exported into the UK National Grid. Consumers in Scotland then buy it back. The further north you go in Scotland the tariff paid for buying it back, increases. So although places like Orkney and the massive windfarms in the north of mainland Scotland are producing well over their own needs in renewables, they are also paying the highest prices to buy back their own locally produced power.

Renewable electricity generation (2019-2022)

Scotland produces most of its renewable energy through wind but hydro is also very important. The future with wave and tidal power makes Scotland’s future as a producer of clean energy very bright.

Wind and hydro generation (Q1-Q3, 2019 to 2022)

Oil and Gas in the UK

Scotland still produces large amounts of fossil fuels through its existing extensive oil and gas fields. The income generated from these sources goes into the UK Exchequer. The UK Government is also very keen to open up more oil and gas fields.

Figures from the UK Office of National Statistics (ONS)

The oil and gas industry plays a central role in the economy of the United Kingdom. Oil and gas account for more than three-quarters of the UK’s total primary energy needs. Oil provides 97 per cent of the fuel for transport, and gas is a key fuel for heating and electricity generation. Transport, heating and electricity each account for about one-third of the UK’s primary energy needs. Oil and gas are also major feedstocks for the petrochemicals industries producing pharmaceuticals, plastics, cosmetics and domestic appliances.

Wikipedia

Click on this link for more information on UK Oil and Gas: North Sea Transition Authority

Scotland’s Renewable Production

Energy is mostly a reserved power to the UK Government. The Scottish Government has planning power over the development of wind farms as we have seen recently in Orkney (OIC Faray Windfarm Approved by Scottish Government Despite Reporter’s Recommendation to Refuse ) and licences to develop offshore wind. (Islanders Attend Consultation Events for the West of Orkney Windfarm)

There is a major expansion of the wind generation sector in Scotland. In the last twelve months, renewable electricity capacity has risen, up 11.7% from September 2021 to 13.6 GW in September 2022. As of September 2022, 397 renewable electricity projects with a capacity of 17.1 GW are being progressed. 3.4 GW of these are under construction, most of which are offshore wind farms off the Moray Firth. 6.8 GW are awaiting construction and 6.9 GW in planning.

Renewable electricity pipeline capacity by planning stage and technology.

The generation and use of energy is a complex picture in Scotland. As part of the UK and with a devolved system of government, control over energy is mostly reserved to the London Government. Oil and Gas is a major sector. The UK Government intends to expand both this and Nuclear production.

As well as producing energy we also need to use less but as the weather in 2022 was better for renewable generation it also made our homes and businesses harder to heat. Fuel poverty should not exist in a country which generates so much energy – but it does because we do not control the price or have the means to do so. Scottish Government funded schemes to make our homes and businesses more energy efficient are extremely important (more about that here, Home Energy Scotland). But Scotland still relies very much on fossil fuels.

Electricity Generation fuel mix

Click on this link for more information on Quarterly energy statistics Scotland

Powers the Scottish Parliament does not have:

  • benefits (some aspects)
  • betting and gambling
  • broadcasting
  • constitution (some aspects) 
  • consumer protection policy
  • currency
  • data protection
  • defence and national security
  • equality legislation (most aspects)
  • energy (most aspects)
  • elections to the UK Parliament
  • employment law and industrial relations
  • financial services
  • foreign affairs
  • immigration, asylum and visas
  • nationality and citizenship
  • postal services
  • taxation (some aspects)
  • telecommunications
  • trade and industry
  • transport (some aspects)

Anyone who has driven down through the northern mainland of Scotland, sailed on a ferry to Orkney’s north isles or seen the oil and gas developments in Shetland, is witness to this massive expansion of energy production (present and future) across Scotland. There is a cost to our landscape and seascape. But, in a climate emergency why is the UK Government developing non-renewable energy sources? And where is the hope for Scots struggling to pay their energy bills when they pay the highest rates in the UK to buy back that same power they see being generated where they live?

Fiona Grahame

Image credit Martin Laird

3 replies »

  1. Fiona

    Can you please stop perpetuating the myth that customers pay more for electricity the further north they are.

    It’s just not true. I wrote to the Orcadian about this some weeks ago.

    Happy to meet up and explain how the system actualy works.

    Martin

  2. In the light of those high buy-back prices and the whole absurdity of the current set-up, the plans behind such news (Herald article: https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/homenews/23226915.thousands-scots-face-30-000-bill-meet-energy-efficiency-rules/) do not appear to have been developed by someone of “sound mind”.
    Promoting air source heat pumps… well, many homes are not suitable. and the issues in cold climates are known. Also ‘heat pumps are only efficient in well insulated buildings’ (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1364032120305621) and how many Orkney buildings are well insulated? The range of insulation options under different programmes – current and upcoming – is piecemeal and for many not suited.
    There are so many solutions out there, some of which more affordable and easier to implement depending on the individual characteristics of buildings, there is neither a one-size-fits-all solution nor is the affordability an issue where all are in the same position.

    Net-zero… on one hand a laudable and necessary ambition… but when it develops into a political obsession without utilising any common sense or practical considerations of the different avenues which could pave the way, then it becomes a farce at the expense of the most vulnerable.