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How to solve Scotland’s renewable energy grid capacity problem



This year kicked off with the Scottish Government setting ambitious targets of achieving 20 Gigawatts of low-cost renewable energy capacity by 2030, generating the equivalent of 50% of Scotland’s total energy demand.

Scotland’s ideal geographical location offers enormous renewable energy potential and is already the UK’s renewable energy powerhouse. Recent figures published by the government revealed Scotland has more than doubled its renewable electricity generation in the last decade and its wind capacity is over 11GW – representing 39% of the UK’s capacity.

It is anticipated that Scotland’s ability to export green power will increase in the next decade, with almost 50GW of wind power in its project pipeline and the bulk of this production coming from offshore wind.

The prospect of a low-cost, homegrown source of energy is enticing and the proposed reforms to grid connectivity announced in the Autumn Statement have been welcomed by the sector. The commitments will allow the development of projects that have been facing up to 10 years of delay.

However, there are still complex regulatory and infrastructure barriers preventing Scotland from reaching its full future energy potential. The country’s net zero pursuit is being slowed by antiquated grid infrastructure designed for fossil fuels almost 100 years ago.

Many large-scale developers are being told it will be decades before they can connect new Scottish projects, if at all. Where permission is obtained, those developers are often charged more to connect to the grid than equivalent projects elsewhere in the UK.

To scale-up renewable energy generation, an overhaul of the grid infrastructure is needed.

This means greater investment in building more pylons, power lines and substations to carry cheap renewable energy to the people and businesses who need it, whilst also supported by more flexible policies from the district network operators and regulatory changes.

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