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Scotland generated more than half of its electricity in 2015 from renewables

April 5, 2016

By Paul Homewood


h/t Paul2



It’s no secret that Scotland has set ambitious goals for itself when it comes to renewable energy, and the country’s progressive agenda appears to be paying off.

New numbers released by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change show that Scotland generated the equivalent of 57.7 percent of its electricity consumption from renewable sources last year. This record figure beats the government’s 2015 interim target to meet half the country’s electricity demand from renewable sources, and means Scotland is more than halfway to its ultimate goal of fully renewable electricity.


There is the usual backslapping from WWF and co, but the article fails to tell the full story.


First, let’s look at the breakdown of the numbers:




Note that, as a proportion of total generation, renewables only account for 41.7%, and not 57.7%, which is the proportion of consumption, rather than generation.

This is an important distinction since 28% of total generation is actually transferred to the rest of the UK.

Excluding hydro, which is well established and changes little year to year, we are left with a much less impressive 30.7%.


Conventional power, including hydro, accounted for 36.6 TWh last year, compared to consumption of 38.1 TWh. Without this reliable baseload and interconnectors, such large amounts of wind power would simply be unsustainable.

Indeed, it would be fair to say that the power generated from wind, 14.1 TWh, has effectively all been exported to England, which took 14.8 TWh in total from Scotland.

With England accounting for about 82% of the UK’s total consumption, this can easily be catered for.

The Scots might like to ask themselves how they will manage when they have hit their 100% renewables target, and England does not have enough capacity to meet its own needs when the wind stops blowing!






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  1. Joe Public permalink
    April 5, 2016 7:13 pm

    Love the sting in the tail.

  2. Ian Cunningham permalink
    April 5, 2016 8:49 pm

    In Orkney electricity generated from renewable sources amounted to 102% of consumption in 2014. It is widely reported therefore that we are self sufficient. In fact about half the time Orkney was importing electricity from mainland Scotland. Even in Orkney the wind doesnt blow all the time. Numbers available on request.

    • International Man permalink
      July 13, 2016 7:32 pm

      Yes, but before that Orkney relied on a local fossil fuel power plant in Kirkwall and the subsea links to mainland for its electricity. The diesel for the power station was imported and the impact on the local economy was minimal. Locally owned wind generation and other renewables on Orkney now contribute to the local economy so generation 50% of the time is very good news for the Orkney economy.

  3. April 6, 2016 12:30 am

    Am I cynical or experienced when I suspect that both Scotland and England will claim the same 14 TWh of renewable energy? Scotland as the producer and consumer AND England as the consumer.

    Next question: does England have enough surplus power to send to Scotland when Scotland’s renewables exceed export volumes and it is a still, dark day?

    • April 6, 2016 9:47 am

      The Grid plan on a UK basis, so the simple answer to 2) is yes, as long as England also has enough.

      A bigger problem though is whether the interconnectors have enough capacity to carry it

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        April 6, 2016 6:47 pm

        Not sure I agree with that. There’s some actual data on Scotland-England transfers that suggests link capacity is already 3.5GW to allow the export of surplus wind

        I think the problem is in finding the capacity to provide the reverse feed with so much coal capacity in the North being closed. The issue becomes who gets the blackout? I’d bet against that being London, and there would be massive temptation to cut off the Scots and then blame it on their own energy policy.

      • April 6, 2016 7:36 pm

        Yes, that’s the real problem.

        It is all very well the Scots preening themselves about renewables, but they rely on selling most of the wind power to England, while will rely increasingly on English FF to make up for intermittency.

        I don’t have the slightest problem with this, as Scotland has prime country for wind + hydro. But the nonsense starts when:

        1) Claims are made that we can all live on renewables only.

        2) The ludicrous costs of wind power are ignored

  4. Graeme No.3 permalink
    April 6, 2016 4:33 am

    The same approach has been worked for years with Denmark – “Denmark gets 20%, 25%, 42% etc. of its electricity from wind”. That they export most of it at a loss, and have to buy in any shortfall at a higher price is glossed over. The result is the highest electricity cost in Europe (and probably the World) and the laughter of the Norwegians on their way to the bank.

  5. April 6, 2016 6:13 am

    ONLY half ! that’s nowt ..Scotland probably used to produce 6,000 % of the oil/gas it consumed

    The article’s #1 Logical Fallacy : Comparing Apples vs Oranges
    #2 Is asserting its a zero sum game
    (Always best to start out with the logical fallacies of a propaganda piece)

    The Apples : Energy GENERATION in Scotland
    is NOT the same as
    The Oranges : Energy CONSUMPTION in Scotland *

    It’s like an old guy tells you “I married half the women in this village”
    …… and then you find he’s the priest.

    e.g.2 A town with a power nuclear station could say “we generate 50,000% of the energy consumed in this region, cos the other nearby towns don’t have power stations.

    e.g. 3 Probably at some time Scotland has produced 6,000% of the oil/gas it consumes.
    (BTW a new large field by Exxon is due to come on stream this year)

    * Never mind that for the whole renewables world
    100% of generation DOES NOT equal 100% of consumption
    cos by the time you take into account the network inefficiencies wind power causes, the fact turbines often draw power to keep spinning etc then Renewable GENERATION probably equals for 120% of Renewable CONSUMPTION

  6. April 6, 2016 6:31 am

    I’m not done yet
    – The science alerts page contains ads for 6 SUVS and then a solar panel advert repeated twice..How Green is that ?

    But then there is an interesting link : “This scientist was almost jailed for knowingly publishing fraudulent data

    Why hype up a new treatment that you know doesn’t actually fulfil any of the promises you’re touting? Two words: grant money.

    “The former University of Queensland researcher” (Hey, Lew/Cook where have I heard that name linked to fraudulent studies before ?

    “What courts will need to consider in the future is the effect that deliberately publishing false data – particularly related to health – can have on the public.”

  7. April 6, 2016 7:47 am

    ‘The Scots might like to ask themselves how they will manage when they have hit their 100% renewables target, and England does not have enough capacity to meet its own needs when the wind stops blowing!’

    Is there anyone in charge in Scotland who even understands that statement?

  8. Dorian permalink
    April 6, 2016 8:20 am

    Personally, I think it is more relevant the full cost of this energy coming from wind power. Is there any breakdown on those numbers, taking that same pie chart for generation and then another for kwh cost per source. Is that possible?

    Furthermore, this may be generation, but I would like to know if this is USABLE generation. Wind blows at any time during the night or day. This power is generated only during wind events. I would like to know if there is a break down of how much of this wind generation is actually used for important periods of the day. 1 kwh of energy at 6pm is not the same as 1kwh of energy at 3am in the morning. If most of this energy from wind power is coming at 3am in the morning, who cares! The present hydro/fossil fuel system can easily sustain the demand. The REAL dilemma is how much is wind-power contributing at peak usage times, like at 6pm in the evening!

    We don’t need an expensive wind power farm if it is only to contribute to the power grid at 3am in the morning!

    Are there numbers on this? This is where the real story is.

    • April 6, 2016 9:50 am

      We’ll have a better idea when DECC publish their full data for 2015.

      I might have a look at the 2014 stuff today

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      April 6, 2016 7:02 pm

      Scottish supply now has the following assets:

      Torness nuclear 1.19 GW
      Hunterston B nuclear 0.97 GW
      Peterhead gas 0.4GW variable supply and 0.75GW Supplemental Balancing Reserve for a total of 1.15 GW
      Hydro effective capacity 1 GW
      Wind about 5.3 GW
      Interconnection to England 3.5 GW

      Total = 13.1 GW to meet peak demand of about 5.5 GW

      There is also the Moyle interconnector to Ulster to supply when there’s no wind (0.5GW when fully restored).

      • April 6, 2016 7:30 pm

        Sounds about right.

        But I’m not sure how much Ulster would supply if Scotland was short. In 2015, 685 Gwh went to NI, and 493 GWh came back

      • It doesn't add up... permalink
        April 6, 2016 10:57 pm

        Ireland usually only exports when there is local wind generation available.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      April 6, 2016 10:44 pm

      I’ve started looking at the wind numbers for forecast and outturn generation by hourly period available here:

      They show that forecasts tend to be optimistic at all output levels, but particularly for the higher levels. There is relatively little diurnal variation in average output, with a small dip in the small hours.

  9. davec permalink
    April 6, 2016 10:25 am

    “The Scots might like to ask themselves how they will manage when they have hit their 100% renewables target, and England does not have enough capacity to meet its own needs when the wind stops blowing!”

    Exactly, Paul. Currently, all political parties here in Scotland are vehemently anti nuclear, anti fossil fuel and pro ruinables. There is next to zero public understanding of the impending crisis. For ‘democracy’, read ‘idiocracy’.

  10. April 6, 2016 9:43 pm

    England could end up scavenging round Europe for extra wattage in order to bail Scotland out.

  11. Joe Public permalink
    August 5, 2016 7:19 pm

    Scotland’s 21,983 GWh from renewables might sound impressive until it’s realised Scotland’s oil production was ~929,575 GWh.

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