The role of government

Following on from its signing of the Kyoto Protocol to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the UK Government set targets for electricity generation from renewable energy sources.

The first of these targets is to meet 10 per cent of the UK's electricity needs from renewable sources by 2010, with an aspirational target of 20 per cent by 2020.

In Scotland, however, the bar has been set higher as around 24 per cent of all our electricity needs are already met from renewable sources, mainly from existing large-scale hydro power schemes. Consequently, the Scottish Government has set a target for renewable electricity of 31 per cent by 2011, with the aim of generating 80 per cent by 2020. In addition, Scotland has among the highest carbon reduction targets on earth aiming for a 42% reduction on 1990 levels by 2020.

To achieve these targets, the UK Government and the Scottish Government have introduced legislation requiring licensed electricity suppliers to provide increasing amounts of the electricity from eligible renewable sources year-on-year from 2003. In addition a range of capital grant schemes have been established to support the development of less-commercialised renewable technologies, such as wave and solar power.

Since the introduction of the Renewables Obligation (Scotland), or ROS, the Scottish Government has granted planning consent to 0.9 GW of renewable capacity. Applications awaiting determination now total 4.2GW, with a further 3.1GW at the formal pre-application stage.

Similar Obligations have been introduced in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, creating a UK-wide cross border marketplace for renewable electricity.

Due in no small part to the favourable policy environment and streamlined consenting regime in Scotland, the UK has been rated as one of the top nations in the world to invest in renewables and is arguably the best place in invest in offshore energy projects.


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