Scotland is expected to more than double its onshore wind capacity to 20GW by the end of the decade as it seeks a cheap and reliable source of clean energy.
The Scottish Government’s Onshore Wind Policy Statement says Scotland already has some of the most ambitious targets in the world to meet net zero but must go further and faster to protect future generations from irreversible climate damage.
Net Zero and Energy Secretary Michael Matheson, said: “This challenging ambition, which will see Scotland’s onshore wind capacity more than double, is needed now more than ever, to provide clean, affordable, renewable energy.”
The plan to install 8-12 GW of onshore wind in addition to the nearly 9GW currently operational was a key commitment of the Bute House Agreement which was negotiated between the Scottish Greens and the Scottish Government. It follows changes to planning rules to facilitate the growth of onshore wind.
The strategy says that developing more onshore wind could create 17,000 jobs and £27.8 billion in GVA for the country’s economy, though critics will point to failures to meet previous commitments on job creation.
Mr Matheson states that technologies that take decades to deliver and are expensive for consumers, such as new nuclear fission, are “not an acceptable solution and to continue pursuing these technologies will only add to the enormous pressures facing households and businesses”.
He adds: “Scotland is doing its part but we cannot do this alone. The UK Government’s recent relaxation of rules regarding the deployment of onshore wind is to be welcomed but it must be a lasting decision.
“Onshore wind has the ability to be deployed quickly, is good value for consumers and is widely supported by the public.”
Mark Richardson, senior policy manager at Scottish Renewables, said: The Onshore Wind Policy Statement recognises that ‘business as usual’ will not achieve our net-zero obligations, and that transformational change is needed.”
The Scottish Greens environment spokesperson, Mark Ruskell said: “We are in a climate crisis and we need to transform our energy supply. Onshore wind is the cheapest green energy source out there and it has a big role to play in cutting emissions and our energy bills at the same time.
“Scotland has an abundance of resources, and this new policy will put them to use, while ensuring that local communities and the whole country benefit from the investment and green jobs that it will create. With Scottish Greens in government, I am delighted that we are showing leadership and delivering the change that is so badly needed.”