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Renewables met 97% of Scotland’s electricity demand in 2020–BBC

March 26, 2021

By Paul Homewood

 One of the curious things about the BBC is how their Scottish operation fawns over the SNP so much.

This time they have published a grossly disingenuous article about renewables there, which goes on to put most of the credit on Scotland’s climate targets:




Scotland has narrowly missed a target to generate the equivalent of 100% of its electricity demand from renewables in 2020.

New figures reveal it reached 97.4% from renewable sources.

This target was set in 2011, when renewable technologies generated just 37% of national demand.

Industry body Scottish Renewables said output had tripled in the last 10 years, with enough power for the equivalent of seven million households.

Chief executive Claire Mack, said: "Scotland’s climate change targets have been a tremendous motivator to the industry to increase deployment of renewable energy sources.

"Renewable energy projects are displacing tens of millions of tonnes of carbon every year, employing the equivalent of 17,700 people and bringing enormous socio-economic benefits to communities."

n 2019 Scotland met 90.1% of its equivalent electricity consumption from renewables, according to Scottish Government figures.

Scotland has some of the most ambitious climate targets in the world, with its Climate Change Bill setting out a legally binding target of reaching net-zero emissions by 2045.

‘Cheap, clean renewables’

Onshore wind delivers about 70% of capacity, followed by hydro and offshore wind as Scotland’s main sources of renewable power.

WWF Scotland praised the new figures, but said more needed to be done to cut emissions from transport and heating.


Although it may be true that Scottish renewable generation amounted to 97% of demand, 38% of Scottish generation in total was exported to England last year, according to DUKES. Therefore you cannot look at the Scottish grid in isolation.

Without that export facility, more than half of their wind output would have to be dumped at huge cost. More importantly, the large share of wind power in Scotland is only sustainable because of massive investment in transmission capacity to England, which allows the National Grid to balance supply and demand. Without this, Scotland’s power grid would collapse.


We now come on to this strange claim – ‘Cheap, clean renewables’. On the contrary, wind power is extremely expensive, and was only installed in the first place because of massive subsidies paid for by all British energy consumers, not just Scottish. It had very little, if anything, to do with Scottish government climate targets.

Most of Scotland’s wind power is subsidised via Renewable Obligation Certificates, which are worth £50.80 per MWh. Based on 2019 figures, wind output totalled 22 TWh in Scotland, meaning a subsidy of £1.1bn a year. If Scottish householders had to pay all of this themselves, it would amount to £440 each.

I wonder why the BBC forgot to mention this rather inconvenient fact?

  1. March 26, 2021 4:45 pm

    You must never let the truth interfere with a good story.

  2. JimW permalink
    March 26, 2021 4:50 pm

    Its a much smaller example of Germany electricity grid being propped up by French nuclear and Polish coal base load plant together with Norwegian hydro.
    Its easy to put useless expensive generation in a location supported by more conventional plant. Of course the flimsier English generation becomes the much more difficult it is to keep these plates spinning. Its quite cold and wet in the winter in Scotland.

  3. bluecat57 permalink
    March 26, 2021 4:53 pm

    If you believe this, I have some sunny beachfront property in Scotland I will sell you.

    • March 26, 2021 8:43 pm

      As ever, the guaranteed power output at any given time of wind+sun is zero.

  4. Broadlands permalink
    March 26, 2021 4:57 pm

    There is nothing renewable about a wind turbine (or a solar panel). They will wear out or break down just like other mechanical devices. They will then have to be discarded somewhere and replaced at additional costs. Replaceables might be a better term?

    • bobn permalink
      March 26, 2021 7:27 pm

      Correct. Alot of early rooftop solar systems are now being replaced. I have a 30yr old solar thermal tube system. About a third of tubes are now broken. The tubes ‘solarmax’ are no longer made or available. Most who installed this system are now ripping it off and replacing due to it no longer being supported. Just last week I collected a system that had been ripped out and hope to get enough working spares to repair my system but eventually the spares will not be there for these ‘non-repairable thus non-renewable’ systems.
      Also have a new neighbour buy a house with a working 20yr old earth-sourced heatpump system. He could not find an engineer to guarantee it and the company who installed was long bust. He’s ripped it out since he’s the type who worries about insurance. Sad because it really worked quite well (better than air-sourced) – but was ‘Heath Robinson’.

  5. Ray Sanders permalink
    March 26, 2021 5:14 pm

    You just have to look at the clever manipulation of the words. Headline says “Renewables met 97% of Scotland’s electricity demand in 2020” Followed by “Scotland has narrowly missed a target to generate the equivalent of 100% of its electricity demand from renewables in 2020.” Cleverly the headline missed out the important bit “the equivalent of”.
    As Paul points out a large proportion was exported and 100% was heavily subsidised.
    Imagine either Nicola’s or Alex’s new independent country having to finance this themselves. No subsidy and when there is a Scottish surplus to export it will be selling into a likely saturated market (i.e rUK) at negligible or even negative price. On the other hand with no other significant domestic generation (Hunterston and Torness shut down) then having to import at sky high prices from the only other place they can i.e. rUK when they have a shortage i.e wind lull.
    I genuinely feel sorry for those Scots who can see the problems and want to remain part of the UK if they end up having to leave Scotland to get away from the SNP/Alba lunacy.

  6. March 26, 2021 5:25 pm

    Following on from what Paul said. I quote from the article “Scotland has narrowly missed a target to generate the equivalent of 100% of its electricity demand from renewable in 2020.

    I see weasel words. The words “equivalent to 100%” rang alarm bells. equivlent to means a sleight of hand.

    This is the standard sleight of hand that we are used to from the Weeenewabuws mouthpieces. They never call a spade a spade, They promote a spoon as “equivalent” to a spade. Yes they both perform the same general function BUT we are not children.

    This wording deliberately hides what Paul has pointed out. That hides the fact that on some days they were a clear exporter…AND MANY more a clear IMPORTER either from those pesky English OR energy was produced from fossil fuel sources or Nuclear.

    What is needed is a “clear Language act” to stop the charlatans and their promoters ( the BBC, the Guardian etc.) deliberately misleading the public because the vast majority of the output from the climate industrial complex uses deliberately opaque language to hide what they are not achieving.

  7. MrGrimNasty permalink
    March 26, 2021 5:40 pm

    And at the price of 13.9 million trees and counting and a countryside scarred by windmill industrial complexes and their access roads and tracks, whilst trawling the skies for insect and animal life to kill.

  8. markl permalink
    March 26, 2021 5:44 pm

    When you own the media you make the narrative, confuse the audience with opinion disguised as fact, and hide any truth that doesn’t agree with the narrative.

  9. Cheshire Red permalink
    March 26, 2021 5:50 pm

    Lies, damn lies and statistics. The cornerstone of any ‘renewable energy’ media puff piece.

  10. Ben Vorlich permalink
    March 26, 2021 5:57 pm

    It doesn’t matter if you generate the “equivalent” of 200% of demand over a year, if you fall short by 1% for a microsecond or so then you’re in a disaster situation.

  11. Duker permalink
    March 26, 2021 5:59 pm

    “As a result of restrictions in response to covid-19, electricity use in Scotland declined significantly. Average daily electricity demand in Scotland in 2020 was 11% lower than in 2019. “-Scottish Energy ststistics hub

  12. Ian Cunningham permalink
    March 26, 2021 6:30 pm

    It was declared that Orkney had produced 102% of its electricity demand in 2014.. In that same year figures from SSE revealed that Orkney had been importing electricity from the grid for 48% of the time. Even in Orkney windspeeds are at or below 7mph 20% of the time when turbines produce very little electricity.

  13. 1saveenergy permalink
    March 26, 2021 6:40 pm

    97% … where have I seen that before ??

    • Mack permalink
      March 26, 2021 7:39 pm

      Indeed. And if you asked the question ‘on how many days of the year did Scotland have to import electricity, renewable sourced or not, to keep the nation’s lights on?’ I dare say it wasn’t 3%. But the BBC won’t tell you that. I would argue that the answer to that question wouldnt be far off 97% either.

    • Graeme No.3 permalink
      March 27, 2021 4:39 am

      There is a slight error in the headline — it should read “Renewables met 97% of Scotland’s electricity demand in 202” (A.D. of course).

  14. It doesn't add up... permalink
    March 26, 2021 7:06 pm

    Last year there was some 3.7TWh of curtailment of wind farms at a cost of some £264m. The overwhelming majority of that was in Scotland. Perhaps if the Western Link HVDC hadn’t suffered quite so many outages as it did we would have seen the notional 100% achieved on the back of more export to England.

    The renewables lobby like to ignore the zero carbon generation from the Hunterston and Torness nuclear power stations, or the origins of their imported electricity when the wind doesn’t blow (again nuclear figures via Heysham and Hartlepool, but also stations like Connah’s Quay CCGT when the Western Link allows). They also ignore the contributions of Peterhead and Lerwick and many other smaller mainly diesel generators particularly for island communities. Within Scotland, 100% renewables is not achievable. Then there are the power stations that help to run major industrial sites like Grangemouth. Of course, Deben wants the Scots to close it.

  15. ecobunk permalink
    March 26, 2021 8:37 pm

    We in Scolund are delighted that we are nearly zero carbon in electricity. But we have a far greater success. By the same lojuk, the county of East Lothian is carbon negative in total, having just over 100,000 inhabitants and Torness Power Station producing 1300Mwe. Strange that this achievement has had no publicity!

  16. Mal permalink
    March 26, 2021 8:51 pm

    Just been reading about the redundant/obsolete turbine blades going into landfill in the US, no doubt suitably ignored by the ‘green’ brigade.

  17. Mack permalink
    March 26, 2021 10:58 pm

    Bearing in mind that approx two thirds of the land under private ownership in Scotland is shared between less than 2000 individuals, the majority of whom are hereditary owners, I dare say that the socialist SNP’s supporters are delighted by the fact that the biggest beneficiaries of the green wind farm ‘wet dream’ in Alba thus far are run by the names of such common or garden individuals as the Earl of Stair, Earl of Moray, Duke of Roxburghe, Earl of Seafeld etc etc. Or, perhaps not? If only the public knew?

    Wee Krankie doesn’t brag too much about how much her energy policies have enriched the Scottish aristocracy to the detriment of the poor bill payers under her watch but that has been a political decision on her part. Nicola Sturgeon knows full well that should she seriously move against the landowners on whom her energy policies depend, then the rural Scottish economy will collapse. Interesting times. Made even more interesting by the fact that the denizens of Shetland, in whose territory the biggest untapped Scottish oil deposits sit, and the imagined source of all the future independence self-sustaining cash, would be keen to seek an independence referendum from Scotland should Scotland extract themselves from the Union. The Shetalnders value prosperity over virtue signalling and poverty all day long.

  18. March 27, 2021 1:44 am

    An alternative to renewables

  19. A C Osborn permalink
    March 27, 2021 9:50 am

    This is the comment that I find most disturbing “employing the equivalent of 17,700 people “.
    This person obviously likes the word “equivalent”, so how many people did it actually employ, especially Scottish people?
    Of course employing so many people is not a good thing as they try to persuade us it is, it has something to do with ECONOMICS, something Greenies have no concept of.

  20. Gamecock permalink
    March 27, 2021 8:30 pm

    ‘Industry body Scottish Renewables said output had tripled in the last 10 years, with enough power for the equivalent of seven million households.’

    Some of the time. Too bad about other times.

    ‘Chief executive Claire Mack, said: “Scotland’s climate change targets have been a tremendous motivator to the industry to increase deployment of renewable energy sources.’

    Nah, they are just trying to make money. Macknut projects stupidity.

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