Scotland Energy Report

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Written for Coursera (MOOC) Class ‘Global Sustainable Energy, Past, Present and Future‘ by the University of Florida (June 2013).

1.0   Scotland Introduction

Scotland is country in the United Kingdom, Europe.  It is primarily governed by the UK government in Westminster, London, and on devolved matters by the Scottish government in Holyrood, Edinburgh.  An independence referendum is scheduled for 2014, and will determine whether Scotland remains part of the UK or returns to Independence.

Scotland has a population of 5.3 million and a land area of 78,387 km2.  The capital city is Edinburgh (population 495,360) and Glasgow (population 598,830) is its largest city.  The lowland central belt (including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Perth and Dundee) accounts for 70% of the population.  Aberdeen (population 222,800) and Inverness (population 57,960) are two notable cities outside the central belt.  The sparsely populated Highland region has one of the lowest population densities in Europe (population 232,100 / 26,484 km2) 8.4 people per km2.

1.1  Scotland’s Current Energy Mix 

Over the past eight years, where data is available (2004-2011), Scotland has generated on average 50 TWh of electricity annually.  The bulk of which has come from Nuclear Energy: Torness (1.4 GW) and Hunterson B (1.3 GW) stations, Coal: Longannet (2.4 GW) and Cockenzie (1.2 GW) stations and Natural Gas at the Peterhead (1.5 GW) station.

Renewable Energy has more than doubled during this period from nearly 6 TWh in 2004 to just under 14 TWh in 2011.  Of these totals, Scotland’s many Hydro stations accounts for 4.5 TWh on average, with only a small increase in installed capacity (1.3 to 1.5 GW) over the period.  The increases in Renewable Energy generation are from Wind Energy, which increased in installed capacity from 0.4 GW to 3 GW by 2011.  These figures are taken from the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change statistics.

Total Energy consumption in Scotland in 2010 was 178 TWh  (DUKES & DECC Statistics), and is broken down by fuel type:

  • Coal & Solid Fuel          (7.2%)
  • Petroleum                     (44.0%)
  • Natural Gas                   (37.4%)
  • Nuclear                          (5.4%)
  • Renewables                   (3.4%)
  • Others                            (2.7%)

TABLE_Summary Scotland Energy 2010 MULTI

Table 1.0: Energy Statistics Scotland 2010

According to the Scottish Energy Study, 2006: (91%) of Coal and other solid fuel is used for Electricity Generation, the remainder is used for domestic space heating (7%), mostly in remote rural areas, and by industry (2%).

Oil based petroleum consumption is predominantly for transportation.  The breakdown is: Transportation (77%), Domestic, mainly heating (15%), Industry (8%), Services (5%) and Electricity Generation (1%).

Natural Gas is the most economical and controllable fuel, which is available by mains supply in most urban areas.  Consumption for Domestic space heating and cooking is (40%).  It is also used for Electricity Generation (25%), for heating and process energy in Industry (21%) and Services sector heating (14%).

Nuclear Energy is 100% for Electricity Generation.

Renewable Energy sources have seen significant growth since the baseline of the 2006 study.  Almost 96% of Renewable Energy is dedicated to Electricity Generation, with a small amount of Thermal Biomass for heating.

Electricity Generation in Scotland is about 50 TWh annually and approximately 80% is for national consumption with 20% of exported to England and Northern Ireland.

Scotland Total GWh Coal Oil Gas Nuclear Renew Other
2004 49,937 13,055 1,391 10,835 18,013 5,832 811
2005 49237 12,142 1,903 9,367 18,681 6,486 659
2006 52,250 17,549 2,189 10,212 14,141 6,963 1,196
2007 48,080 13,856 1,504 10,931 12,344 8,226 1,219
2008 50,121 11,662 1,518 11,608 15,079 9,141 1,112
2009 51,170 11,964 1,294 9,370 16,681 10,755 1,105
2010 49,992 14,716 1,213 8,388 15,293 9,591 792
2011 51,223 10,779 1,156 8,052 16,892 13,728 616
Average 50,251 13,215 1,521 9,845 15,890 8,840 939

Table 1.1: Electricity Generation

CHART_Scot Elect Gen Mix 2004-2011

Figure 1.0: Electricity Generation


Electricity consumption remains fairly constant at around 50 TWh per annum.  The bulk of generation by Coal was provided by the 2.4 GW Longannet Station with the remainder intermittently supplied by the 1.2 GW Cockenzie Station (Closed in March 2013), much of Cockenzie’s electricity was exported to Northern Ireland.

Nuclear power provides an annual average base load of just under 16 TWh, from Torness (1.4 GW) and Hunterston B (1.3 GW) stations.

The Peterhead power station (1.5 GW) generates the majority of Natural Gas sourced electricity at around 10 TWh annually.  The Grangemouth petrochem complex is supplied by the 130 MW gas power station.  It provides both electricity and steam locally, as well as exporting excess electricity to the grid [1].  Permission was granted in 2011 for a 1 GW combined cycle gas power plant at the Cockenzie site, it will be equipped with carbon capture and storage technology [2].

Installed capacity for renewables sourced electricity is rapidly increasing in Scotland in line with targets set out by the Scottish government.  The graph below (figure 2.0) illustrates this expansion, with hydro capacity remaining constant and wind and wave capacity being responsible for the majority of the increase.  In actual fact, wave power remains at the prototype stage and currently contributes very little.  We can therefore attribute generation in this category mainly to wind energy.

1.2  Issues with access, Quality, and Sustainability of Current Sources. 

There are very few issues concerning access to electricity in Scotland at the moment.  Power outages are rare, except for in the most isolated and remote parts of the country, where the distribution network occasionally breaks down, usually due to extreme weather conditions.

The majority of the population are well served by electricity and natural gas utilities.   However, nearly 10% of the population, located in remote rural areas, do not have access to mains gas, being limited to using coal, wood logs and electricity as means of heating and cooking [3].

Use of Fossil Fuels such as Oil, Natural Gas and Coal is unsustainable for two main reasons.  These finite natural resources are being depleted and will eventually run out or become uneconomical to extract.  Furthermore, the burning of Fossil Fuels releases carbon into the atmosphere in the form of CO2, a greenhouse gas, which is causing Global Warming.

1.3  Reasons for Developing Renewable Energy Sources 

The Scottish government has set emissions targets, in law, to reduce production of greenhouse gasses responsible for climate change.  ‘The Climate Change (Scotland) Act of 2009, (using 1990 levels as the benchmark) has set a target of reducing emissions by 80% by 2050.  The target for 2020 is set at 42% reduction.  Another target is for 100% electricity generation capacity by renewable sources by 2020.  Although other sources like nuclear and fossil fuel supported by carbon capture and storage are retained initially as backup, the long term goal is have 100% renewable electricity.

Besides electricity generation, Scotland plans to have 30% total energy consumption, 10% transportation (EU target of 10%), 11% of heat energy, by renewable means and an overall reduction in energy consumption of 12% by 2020.  Guidance on how the country shall achieve these targets is provided in the Scottish government publication ‘2020 Routemap for Renewable Energy in Scotland’, August 2011 [4].      

This report will focus on Wind Energy, and briefly look at the status of Hydro Storage and Hydrokinetic (Wave and Tidal) Energy in Scotland.

Scotland has 25% of Europe’s wave and wind power potential [5], and has a theoretical total wind energy capacity of 159 GW.

2.0  Wind and Hydrokinetic Energy Technology

2.1  Wind Energy 

The mass movement of air in our atmosphere caused by variations in atmospheric pressure, gives the air molecules kinetic energy.  Wind Energy harnesses this by transferring the air energy to angled blades on a turbine, causing it to rotate.  This rotary motion is then transferred to an electricity generator and electricity is produced.

Two main design configurations are Horizontal axis and Vertical axis.  Horizontal axis is the most prevalent design due to high efficiency and reliability.  Most commercial turbines are three-bladed and utilise a gearbox in the transfer of power to the generator.  They are designed to turn to face into the wind and most have variable blade pitch to limit high rotational speed as a protection and safety feature, deployed during high wind conditions.

Vertical axis machines have the advantage of not having to face into the wind, but suffer from lower efficiencies and because of the relatively low rotational speeds and high torques produced, they require to be more robust and higher maintenance [6].

A radical new design for a static Wind Generator has been developed by Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.  It uses a grid of wires and charged water droplets to produce electricity without noise or flicker [7].

2.2  Hydrokinetic Energy

Hydrokinetic energy is the transfer of energy from natural water motion to usually electrical energy for consumption.  Hydro energy is a well established and widely adopted form of this technology associated with rivers and dams.

The leading current marine hydrokinetic designs are described below.  Taken from the Union of Concerned Scientists website [8].

Oscillating Water Column.  ‘Waves enter and exit a partially submerged collector from below, causing the water column inside the collector to rise and fall. The changing water level acts like a piston as it drives air that is trapped in the device above the water into a turbine, producing electricity via a coupled generator.’

Point Absorber: ‘Utilizes wave energy from all directions at a single point by using the vertical motion of waves to act as a pump that pressurizes seawater or an internal fluid, which drives a turbine. This type of device has many possible configurations. One configuration, called a hose pump point absorber, consists of a surface-floating buoy anchored to the sea floor, with the turbine device as part of the vertical connection. The wave-induced vertical motion of the buoy causes the connection to expand and contract, producing the necessary pumping action. Through engineering to generate device-wave resonance, energy capture and electricity generation by point absorbers can be maximized.’

Attenuator:Also known as heave-surge devices, these long, jointed floating structures are aligned parallel to the wave direction and generate electricity by riding the waves. The device, anchored at each end, utilizes passing waves to set each section into rotational motion relative to the next segment. Their relative motion, concentrated at the joints between the segments, is used to pressurize a hydraulic piston that drives fluids through a motor, which turns the coupled generator.’

Overtopping Device:A floating reservoir, in effect, is formed as waves break over the walls of the device. The reservoir creates a head of water—a water level higher than that of the surrounding ocean surface—which generates the pressure necessary to turn a hydro turbine as the water flows out the bottom of the device, back into the sea.’

Rotating devices: ‘Capture the kinetic energy of a flow of water, such as a tidal stream, ocean current or river, as it passes across a rotor. The rotor turns with the current, creating rotational energy that is converted into electricity by a generator. Rotational devices used in water currents are conceptually akin to, and some designs look very similar to, the wind turbines already in widespread use today – a similarity that has helped to speed up the technological development of the water-based turbines. Some rotational device designs, like most wind turbines, rotate around a horizontal axis, while other, more theoretical concepts are oriented around a vertical axis, with some designs resembling egg beaters.’

2.3  The Current State of Renewable Energy Sources in Scotland 

The table below shows the level of Electrical Generation by Renewable sources in Scotland in recent years.  In the category of ‘Wind, Wave and Solar’ energy, wind accounts for almost all electricity generation.

TABLE_Scot Renewable Elect Sources 2004-2011

Table 2.0:  Renewable Electricity Sources, GWh (inc Wind Wave & Solar)

CHART_Scot Renew Installed Cap 2004-2011

Figure 2.0: Electricity Generation by Renewables, Installed Capacity MW (UKgov DECC Statistics)

2.4  Wind Energy in Scotland

Scotland reputedly has 25% of Europe’s wave and wind power potential [9] , and has a theoretical total wind energy capacity of 159 GW.

There are currently two offshore and more than 100 onshore windfarms operating in Scotland. In addition to this, another 200 are either under construction, have planning permission or are in planning [10].

The Whitelee wind farm, near Glasgow is the largest onshore wind farm in Europe.  Completed in 2009, it operates 140 turbines each rated at 2.3 MW, giving it a total installed capacity is 322 MW.  A 75 turbine extension to the facility is due for completion in June 2013, and will increase capacity to 539 MW.  The total project cost was £300 million, or around £0.56 million per megawatt [11].

2.5  Hydrokinetic Energy in Scotland 

Scotland is host to the European Marine Energy Centre, located on the Orkney Islands, off the north coast.  It opened in 2003 and is the only centre of its kind in the world for both wave and tidal energy testing.  The centre is an internationally acknowledged leader in marine energy and assists in the development of industry standards and guidelines.

Tidal energy projects at the EMEC include:

  • Andritz Hydro Hammerfest (HS1000) 1 MW
  • Atlantis Resources Corporation (AR1000) 1 MW
  • Bluewater Energy Services (BlueTEC)
  • Kawasaki Heavy Industries (sea-bed mounted horizontal axis) 1 MW,
  • Open Hydro (turbine) 250 kW
  • Scotrenewables Tidal Power Ltd (SR250, SR2000) 250 kW & 2 MW,
  • Tidal Generation Ltd (Deepgen) 500 kW,
  • Voith Hydro (HyTide) 1 MW.

Wave energy projects at the EMEC include:


2.6  What additions are required over the next 10 years 

The Scottish government target of generating 100% of national electricity consumption from renewable sources by 2020 appears to be very achievable.  The two pronged approach of reducing consumption and increasing renewable capacity is already having the desired affect.

In the 2010 Scottish government publication ‘Conserve and Save: The Energy Efficiency Action Plan’ [12], provision is made to encourage public participation in the broad objective to reduce energy consumption.  Resources are provided to better educate the general public on energy conservation and climate change matters, as well as provision of financial aid to improve domestic energy efficiency, by increasing home insulation for example.

Action 2.1 Within available resources, we will continue to provide ongoing support and financial assistance for energy efficiency in existing housing, levering investment from energy companies and private householders wherever appropriate.’

Scotland is a net exporter of electricity, to neighbouring England and Northern Ireland.  In recent years the trends, shown in the graph below, are for reduced national consumption and increased exports.

The 2011 installed onshore wind generation of 2.4 GW is soon to be augmented by a further 1 GW under construction (added to 2014 total), 2 GW approved for construction (added to 2016 total), 3.5 GW currently in planning (added to 2018 total)and 3.9 GW at the pre-planning stage (added to 2020 total).  The current known potential of 12.8 GW can be included for the short term [13].

According to Scottish Renewables, 10 GW has been identified for short term offshore wind development in the Forth and Moray Firth areas [14].  I have phased in the offshore capacity to 2020 at I GW per year and at 2 GW per year thereafter, since once these units are developed and proven more rapid development is likely.

The Crown Estates and Scottish Government are supporting a £4 billion project to build Tidal power generators around Orkney and the Pentland Firth with an estimated 1.4 GW of power  I have included tidal Hydrokinetic energy at the conservative rate of 0.25 GW per year in my projections [15].

CHART_Scotland Onshore Wind Planning 2011

Figure 2.1: Scotland Onshore Wind  (SCOTgov Statistics)

There are also great opportunities currently being reviewed in offshore wind energy.  This is both a more technically challenging and resource rich sector.  Currently in Scotland there are two offshore wind developments: the 5 MW Beatrice demonstrator project and the 180MW Robin Rigg installation.

The Scottish government initiative ‘Blue Seas – Green Energy A Sectoral Marine Plan for Offshore Wind Energy’, March 2011, has identified 5 GW of development in six areas which exhibit favourable potential [16].

In addition to this, the ‘Sectoral Marine Plan’ has identified 25 areas for offshore wind development.  Estimates of Scottish total offshore wind energy potential are in the region of 206 GW.  For projections, a conservative annual increase in capacity of 0.25 GW has been included.

In support of development on the offshore field,  three major turbine manufacturers are to establish facilities in Scotland: Doosan Power Systems, Gamesa, and Mitsubishi Power Systems.

2.7  The 2020 Goal

In line with the Scottish Government targets to reduce consumption and increase renewable energy capacity:

  • 30% of Total Scottish Energy Consumption from Renewable Sources
  • 100% of Electricity Consumption from Renewable Energy
  • 10% of Transport powered by Renewable Energy
  • 11% of Heating Energy by Renewable Sources
  • 12% Reduction in Total Energy Consumption

The rapid expansion of Wind Energy capacity and potential of Marine Hydrokinetic Energy currently being developed at the European Marine Energy Centre, achieving these targets is highly probable.

2.8  Why the Wind and Wave Energy is Appropriate for Scotland 

Scotland has great potential for development of Wind and Wave Energy, with 25% of Europe’s resource total.  It has almost 10,000 km of coastline, open to Atlantic and North Sea energy.

The availability of these resources in Scotland made it the ideal site for the European Marine Energy Centre, which opened on Orkney in 2003 [17].

3.0  Timeframe for Completion

3.1  Reduction in Electricity Consumption (Existing Uses) 

Energy consumption per capita in Scotland is higher than in the rest of the UK.  Historically this was due to higher proportion of consumption in heavy industry and a greater need for energy in space heating in a colder climate. While trends in industry are moving away from energy intensive processes, the climate remains cold.

Several factors give rise to conflicting trends in domestic energy use in Scotland. There is an ageing population and an increase in the number of households and increased single-person living.  There is a growing demand for electrical appliances to increases consumption, but ongoing improvements in housing stock efficiency are helping to reduce it.

The areas where reductions in electricity consumption can be reduced are identified as: improved home insulation, awareness of phantom load and other wasteful habits, improved lighting efficiency.  Lighting and appliances account for 28% of electricity consumption according to ‘Electricity Demand Reduction’, a consultation paper published by the UK government Department of Energy and Climate Change, November 2012 [18].

There are savings to be made as better electricity saving technologies are adopted in appliance designs, similar to efficiency improvements seen with lighting as incandescent bulbs are phased out, and LED and CFT lighting is adopted.

Other areas of reduction include: Lighting controls, replacement of street lights with LEDs, replacement of electric heating with heat pumps, and generally improving control and efficiency of commercial and industrial processes.

Significant investment in upgrading building insulation, lighting technology and control, and industrial processes is required to reduce consumption through increased efficiency.  Building regulations for new buildings already requires this efficiency.  New efficient appliances will reduce consumption as old ones are replaced.

Over the 10 years to 2023, an annual reduction of 1,250 GWh (2.5%) is required from existing modes of consumption to achieve the 25% reduction target. This will be achieved in the early stages from the switchover to efficient lighting (1 – 3 years).  Once saturation of this measure is reached, the more gradual and capital intensive insulation and appliance replacement measures will begin to take effect for domestic consumption (2 – 10 years).  In the longer term, the larger industrial and commercial adaptations will account for efficiency induced reduction in electricity consumption (5 – 10 years).

3.2  Green Electricity Displacing Fossil Fuel.

Although reduction in current electricity use is desirable, increased Renewable Energy capacity is being rapidly developed.  In order to displace Fossil Fuel consumption, in line with Climate Change targets, increases in overall electricity consumption will be seen.

Besides renewable energy displacing Natural Gas and Coal directly in Electricity Generation, as Transport vehicles, cars and trucks are gradually powered by electricity or hydrogen, and not petroleum, there will be an increased demand for electricity either directly or as part of hydrogen production.

There may be a reduction in Transport use and the associated energy consumption, but an overall increase in electricity consumption is likely.  Overall efficiency improvements should see a decrease in total energy consumption overall by 2023.

According to ‘The Scottish Energy Study’ of 2006 [19], Oil based fuels in Transport of 46.77 TWh were consumed in 2002.  Of this, 71% (33.2 TWh) was for Road Transport, 18% for Aviation, 7% for Marine Transport and 4% (1.9 TWh) for Rail Transport.  Focusing on the land based Transportation of road and rail, there is potential to convert 35.1 TWh annually from fossil fuel to renewable electricity.  These figures are valid for 2013 as patterns of road and rail use have remained fairy constant in the past few decades.

Assuming a direct replacement of vehicle petroleum energy by renewable electrical energy, this 35.1TWh is converted to electrical consumption and added to the total.  The enormity of this switch over in terms of infrastructure in charging points, increased electrical output, and availability and uptake of electric vehicles, not to mention opposition from oil companies and other oil stakeholders, suggests that this is a medium to long term scenario.

CHART_Scotland Onshore Wind Capacity 2010-2012

Figure 3.0: Scotland Onshore Wind Capacity

However, at the rate of Renewable expansion currently occurring, the energy capacity issue is being addressed.  For the purpose of this forecast I see an initial switch over of 5% at year 5 (2018), with a 2.5% increase annually.  The first five years will see patchy improvements in uptake of these vehicles, but as infrastructure improves, vehicle prices fall and the technology is developed further, more people will be willing to make the switch.

There are currently more charging points being added every month throughout the country.

3.3  Phasing Out Nuclear Energy 

Scotland’s two Nuclear Power Stations: Hunterston B and Torness are both expected to operate until 2023, at least.  Replacement of the baseload power provided by these stations offers significant challenges, if Renewable sources are to be used in place.  The intermittent nature of Wind and Solar energy is the main issue.

Solutions to cope with this intermittency include increasing current pumped storage capacity of 700 MW.  Depending upon the extent of upgrades to the transmission network, it is estimated that an increase in energy storage capacity of between 3.5 GW and 7 GW would be required [20].

There are two large-scale pumped storage schemes currently being planned for the central Highlands by Scottish and Southern Energy.  These plants have a combined capacity of 900 MW.

Other technologies for large scale storage such as flywheel and battery storage may be part of the solution.  One idea for the future is the use of vehicle battery storage that allows for plugged in vehicles being charged up to act as energy stores, to feed back into the grid as necessary.  Control mechanisms to ensure that vehicles are available for use by owners would form part of such a scheme where financial incentives for participation in grid storage are offered.

4.0  Problems Barriers and Policy Issues

Today in our well developed society we have vastly improved analysis and communication tools at our disposal.  As we are better equipped to foresee potential problems, such as resource depletion and environmental degradation, we are also able to adjust our behaviour in order that we avoid or mitigate the worst consequences of natural phenomenon.

However, there is an inertia which works against major upheaval and change in society.  This is one of the major challenges as we work towards having a better and more sustainable energy industry.  In this section of the report, we identify some of these issues and propose solutions where they exist.

4.1  Identification of Social Barriers to Energy Improvements

People are often resistant to change if it brings increased effort and expense for little or no apparent lifestyle improvement.  The level of awareness of issues like peak oil and global warming will have a large bearing on responsiveness to such problems.

Unless the majority of people are convinced that alterations to consumption levels or long held habits are absolutely necessary, en-mass buy in is unlikely.

Capital investment in more efficient appliances presents an extraordinary strain on personal finances.  The transfer rate to reduced energy consumption achieved when people only replace equipment at end-of-life is low.  Rates are increased as people are encouraged to adopt more efficient equipment sooner.

A particular issue of split incentives is prevalent in rented buildings, both for domestic homes and commercial property.  The cost of upgrading is met by the owner, but the improved facility is enjoyed by the tenant.  Most of the time, short term planning prevails and upgrades are not made.

For large capital projects, the initial spend is usually very large and the payback in terms of reduced energy bills is less apparent.  For this reason, people usually delay this type of project until it becomes absolutely necessary.  This is linked to a lack of finance or access to it.

As well as the financial issue related to energy improvements such as insulation upgrading in homes and commercial premises is the disruption to the space during a refit.

A particular social barrier to the development of wind turbines is the opposition by some people who think that they are unsightly and/or too noisy.

4.2  Solutions to Social Barriers

With respect to social awareness of issues like peak oil and global warming, there needs to be accepted agreement by the establishment: scientists, politicians, economists and business, that the problem exists.  After years of skepticism, global warming is now accepted by governments and is now being tackled at international level.

Peak oil is less well accepted, and until it is, measures to mitigate for oil shortages and subsequent increases in fuel prices are unlikely to be adopted.

Awareness campaigns by governments, using internet, television, radio and other media must be implemented well, to raise public awareness and enlist their support and efforts.

It is known that low cost and basic habit changes, such as using efficient low energy light bulbs and appliances, and reducing phantom loads can reduce energy consumption dramatically.  Also, newer more energy efficient appliances are being developed to reduce consumption.

Government backed finance initiatives, such as the UK’s ‘Green Deal’, allows home and business owners to have approved upgrades carried out and pay back the cost in instalments as the portion of energy cost saved in monthly fuel bills.

Whilst we are still heavily reliant on petroleum for public and personal transport, better driving techniques: lower speeds and acceleration rates, less braking and better use of geographical elevations, all reduce consumption.

In industry, inefficient or oversized motors and equipment can be replaced with newer and better controlled units.


4.3  Identification of Political Barriers to Energy Improvements

Currently, in the midst of a global economic slump, national governments have less capital available to invest in large energy projects and infrastructure.  In the UK, the current Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government are executing an austerity programme, which extends to energy investment, so no additional funding is being made available.

In Scotland, the coastal waters extending out 12 miles (19 km) are owned by the Crown Estates and generates income for the Queen.  In effect any offshore wind wave or tidal energy company operating in this area must agree a split of profits with the Crown.

Planning law and the administration of development is carried out at local authority level.  Restrictions are in place for small scale building for both upgrades and new builds.  Administration fees and effort required to negotiate planning are a disincentive to development.  Large scale energy and infrastructure projects usually have an element of national government involvement in terms of administration and finance.

4.4  Political Policy

The Department of Energy and Climate Change commissioned the ‘Electricity Demand Reduction’ report, published in November 2012.  The report analysis identifies key areas of improvement and quantifies potential savings across all sectors.

The report highlights national benefits resulting from a general energy efficiency awareness and broad public and business buy-in.  Reduction in energy demand means that fewer power stations and lighter infrastructure would be required, so reducing system costs.

Reduced energy bills make businesses more competitive in a global marketplace, and stimulate growth.  Also, individual households with lower fuel bills have more disposable income to spend locally, so completing the virtuous circle.

4.5  Environmental Issues in Energy Development

As part of the planning process in Scotland, Environmental Impact Assessments are required for developments.  This is especially true for sites of wind and marine energy, which have previously been undeveloped, Greenfield sites.

Many of the proposed sites for these renewable projects are in remote and rural areas, where the natural environment is prized for its rich diversity of flora and fauna.  The aesthetics of the natural and rugged beauty of the Scottish wilderness is guarded by a host of environment stakeholders including: Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, Scottish Natural Heritage, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, John Muir Trust, and the National Trust for Scotland.

Wind turbines are assessed particularly for impacts on bird migration and habitat, as well as visual impact on the landscape.  Great care is taken to avoid unnecessary disruption to the natural environment during construction and operation of the turbines.

Similarly, marine assessments are carried out for wave and tidal hydrokinetic schemes to ensure minimal disruption to marine life, local to the devices.

In the end, the relative costs and benefits of the development, after public consultation are evaluated at the planning stage.

5.0  Lists and Graphs of Renewable Sources and 10 Year Projections.

TABLE_Scot Renewable 2011 DATA DEC Sect 5.0

MAP_Scot Wind Intalled Cap Sect 5.0

TABLE_Scot Renewable Elect Sources 2014-2023 SEct 5.0

Table 5.0: Renewable Energy Sources


  • See section 2.6 for Wind and Marine Energy projection rationales.
  • Typical Capacity Factors for Scottish conditions used.

CHART_Scot Renew Output 2014-2023 Sect 5.0

Figure 5.0:  Graph of Renewable Output

TABLE_Scot Total Energy Cons 2011-2023 DATA DEC Sect 5.0

Table 5.1:  Total Energy Consumption


  • See section 3.2 for explanation of Petroleum transfer to Electricity consumption.
  • Solid Fuel and Natural Gas for space heating reductions to reflect insulation upgrades.

CHART_Scot Total Energy Cons by Fuel 2014-2023 Sect 5.0

Figure 5.1:  Graph of Total Energy Output

TABLE_Scot Elect Gen 2011-2023 DATA DEC Sect 5.0

Table 5.2:  Projected Electricity Generation


  • It is anticipated that a conservative reduction of 50% in Coal and Natural Gas will result from increased Renewable generation.
  • Nuclear shall remain constant throughout life of existing plant.
  • It is anticipated that production shall outstrip consumption by nearly 3:1 by 2023, with excess going to export in UK and Europe.

CHART_Scot Elect Gen 2014-2023 DATA DEC Sect 5.0

Figure 5.2:  Graph of Projected Electricity Generation


  • Renewable energy is on the cusp of displacing Fossil Fuels in electricity generation.
  • Conservative reductions in Coal and Natural Gas may be increased as Renewable technology matures.
  • Nuclear energy remains constant until end of current plant lifetime.

CHART_Scot Elect Supply 2014-2023 DATA DEC Sect 5.0

Figure 5.3:  Graph of Electrical Energy Supply 


  • Losses are due to generator use, transmission and distribution losses.
  • Projected losses calculated at 2011 percentage of total electricity generated.
  • Exports currently to England and Northern Ireland.  Future export interconnector possible to Europe.

CHART_Scot Total Energy Renew 2014-2023 DATA DEC Sect 5.0

Figure 5.4: Percentage of Total Energy Consumption by Renewable Sources 


  • Percentage of Renewable energy generated as a percentage of total energy consumption (all fuel types).

6.0  Report Summary

Summary of Major Issues surrounding Global Energy:

  • Peak Oil, Resource depletion and Global Warming illustrate that current Energy Consumption patterns are not sustainable.
  • Renewable Energy sources are the Key to reducing Fossil Fuel dependency and reduction in Carbon emissions.
  • Political, Economical and Social inertia to major change present Barriers in adopting better practices and technology.
  • Greater awareness of the issues by the masses and positive political assistance will accelerate required changes.
  • Additional efficiency benefits accompany the main consumption reduction goals: Lighter infrastructure requirements, lower pollution levels, freeing up of finances at both the national and individual level.
  • Better energy security from a national scheme, with less reliance on foreign energy sources.

Summary of Recommended Steps in Implementing the Plan.

  • Increase the capacity of national and local Renewable Energy generation.
  • National assistance in the Research and Development of new Renewable Energy technologies like Hydrokinetic Marine devices and static wind energy generators.
  • Develop low and zero carbon Transportation vehicles.  Adopt more efficient Driving Techniques.
  • Reduce personal Electricity Consumption by switching appliances and lights off when not in use.
  • Replace appliances and light bulbs with more energy efficient ones.
  • Better insulate buildings to reduce HVAC energy consumption.
  • Government to encourage energy efficiency by providing information on best practices and financial assistance for capital intensive upgrades.
  • Governments to set and meet targets for Carbon reduction and energy efficiency.


[1]        Gazetteer for Scotland Grangemouth Power Station

[2]        Wikipedia Cockenzie Power Station

[3]        Consumer Focus Scotland Our Goals

[4]        Scottish government ‘2020 Routemap for Renewable Energy in Scotland’, August 2011.

[5]        Scottish Development International

[6]        Wikipedia Wind Turbine

[7]        REWIRE article April 2013

[8]        Union of Concerned Scientists Website

[9]        Scottish Development International

[10]      Scottish Power Renewables ‘Whitelee Wind Farm

[11]       Scottish Power Renewables ‘Construction Update

[12]       Scottish government publication ‘Conserve and Save: The Energy Efficiency Action Plan

[13]       Scottish government publication ‘2020 Routemap for Renewable Energy in Scotland’

            Part 5

[14]       Scottish Power Renewables, ‘Offshore Wind

[15]       The Crown Estate ‘Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters

[16]       Scottish government publication ‘Blue Seas – Green Energy

[17]       European Marine Energy Centre

[18]       UK government publication ‘Electricity Demand Reduction’ DECC November 2012

[19]       Scottish Energy Study – Volume 1 – Energy in Scotland, Supply and Demand, 2006

[20]       Scots Renewables website ‘Pumped Storage Hydro In Scotland’ February 2011

Useful Weblinks (Updated June 2014)

BBC: Tidal energy: Pentland Firth ‘could power half of Scotland’ (20 January 2014)

BBC: Pentland Firth tidal turbine project given consent (16 September 2013)

Scottish Government: Marine Scotland – Marine and Fisheries, Offshore Renewable Energy

European Marine Energy Centre (Orkney, Scotland)

Scottish Forestry and the Environment

titles_forestry agriculture_4

Written for the Coursera (MOOC) Class ‘Climate Literacy: Navigating Climate Change Conversations‘ by the University of British Columbia (July 2013).

1.0  Scotland and Climate Change

Scotland is country of the United Kingdom, together with England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  It lies on the northwest edge of Europe on the Atlantic Ocean and has a temperate climate.  Primarily it is governed by the UK government in Westminster, London, and on devolved matters by the Scottish government in Holyrood, Edinburgh.  Scotland has a stable population of 5.3 million and a land area of 78,387 km2.

In line with the UNFCCC Kyoto Protocol and European Union targets to mitigate against climate change and global warming, Scotland is working with a set of ambitious targets to reduce CO2 emissions and help protect the environment.

CHART_Scotland GHG Emissions 1990-2027

In the Climate Change (Scotland) Act of 2009 [1.0], targets are defined to reduce Scotland’s emissions of six Kyoto Protocol greenhouse gases by at least 42% by 2020 and 80% by 2050.  Scotland’s share of emissions from international aviation and shipping are included in the targets [1.1].

2.0  Trees and Atmospheric CO2

Carbon dioxide gas, produced by burning fossil fuels such as oil, coal and natural gas, has accumulated in the earth’s atmosphere.  It acts as a greenhouse gas, trapping infrared radiation from the earth’s surface and the atmosphere, causing global warming.  Around one quarter of a tree’s live weight is carbon and one tree removes around one tonne of CO2 in its lifetime.

Photosynthesis occurs in sufficient sunlight, where trees absorb (via leaves) and convert CO2 to soluble carbohydrate food, which provides energy for growth.  Some of this is converted to new sapwood in the outer ring, immediately beneath the bark [2.0].


Conversion of the carbohydrate to energy (respiration) is a continuous process (24 hours per day), consuming a quantity of oxygen, releasing CO2 and water, using between 25% and 50% of carbohydrate produced during photosynthesis.  Trees are therefore net absorbers of CO2.


Carbon sequestration is the removal and storage of CO2 from the atmosphere, thus reducing the greenhouse effect.  The IPCC recognize that global forests are large carbon stores and can affect the overall atmospheric CO2 balance.  Trees are effective at removing CO2 from the atmosphere during photosynthesis and store carbon in new growth wood [2.1].

Decomposing and burning wood releases stored carbon back into the environment and recent widespread deforestation has added to atmospheric CO2 in significant quantities.  Conversely, afforestation helps to remove atmospheric CO2 and is seen by the IPCC as an integral strategy in mitigating against global warming.

Trees account for about half of all terrestrial stored carbon, absorbing 3 gigatonnes annually.  However, deforestation releases carbon back to the atmosphere, and it is estimated that during the 1980s, this amounted to one quarter of anthropogenic CO2 emissions.

Forests and woodland contribute to climate change mitigation in four ways:

  • Sequestering carbon in forests by accumulation and maintenance,
  • Sequestering carbon in harvested wood products,
  • Substituting carbon intensive raw materials (Concrete, Aluminium, etc)
  • Substitution of fossil fuels with biomass.

As trees grow, they use a portion of the carbon absorbed from the atmosphere to build new layers and grow in length.  So the amount of carbon accumulated in woody mass is proportional to growth.  The cumulative mass and volume of a tree over time forms an s-curve, with maximum growth occurring in middle period of growth.

CHART_Typical Tree Growth_Volume

At maturity, growth and uptake of atmospheric carbon is marginal.  If carbon sequestration is prioritised, trees should be harvested at the end of peak growth and the wood material used to produce buildings or furniture, thus storing the carbon.

CHART_Typical Tree Growth_Rate

3.0  UK Forests in a Global Context

Global forests cover about 26% (39 million km2) of the land area, but 130,000 km2 are destroyed annually.  They contain 638 Giga tonnes of carbon, which is more than is held in the entire atmosphere.  They sequester 2.4 Giga tonnes annually [3.0].

CHART_Global Forest Land Cover

Forests and woodlands in the UK contain around 90 Mega tonnes of carbon, roughly equivalent to the total annual UK emissions.  30 Mega tonnes of carbon are stored in conifers, 60 Mega tonnes in broadleaves and mixed woodland.

There has been a recent decline in UK afforestation.  This has implications for the UK forest carbon sink. Whilst there were increases in sequestration rates from 1990 to 2004, as carbon accumulated in growing trees planted during the period of rapid forest expansion post war (1945 onwards), it is likely to decline due to reduced planting rates in the last 20 years and harvesting of mature trees.

This apparent decline reflects the rules for carbon defined by the Kyoto protocol which excludes second generation forests from the carbon sink, which diminished the incentive [3.1].

CHART_UK Forestry

Approximately 4 Mega tonnes of carbon are removed from the atmosphere each year by trees in the UK.  

CHART_Global Forests

4.0  State of Scottish Forests

It is estimated that trees covered one half of the land area of Scotland at the end of the last ice age, 10,000 years ago, when human colonization began.  Forest coverage peaked at 80% by about 5,000 years ago, but dropped to only 4% by the 18th century.  This was due to prolonged overuse for dwelling and boat construction, as well as for fuel, without any significant management or replanting [4.0].

Carbon storage in Scottish and UK forests has been declining as a result of new-planting rates falling and younger forests, which sequester more carbon than older forests, maturing.  Scotland’s forests currently capture around 15% of Scotland’s CO2 emissions [4.1].

During the 1970s and 1980s there was a period of major forest expansion, which then declined in the 1990s and 2000s. As the average age of Scotland’s forests has increased, the quantity of carbon dioxide that they are able to remove from the atmosphere has reduced.  In order that climate change targets are achieved, action is needed to reverse this trend.

CHART_Scottish Woodland 1945-2010

As a result of improvements to the Scotland Rural Development Programme [4.2] and activity on the national forest estate, new woodland creation nearly doubled between 2009-10 and 2010-11, from 2,700 hectares to 5,100 hectares. A further significant increase was achieved in 2011-12 with a rise to 9,000 hectares.

Acting as a carbon sink, Scottish forests sequestered 8.3 mega tonnes CO2 in 1990, increasing to 10 Mega tonnes CO2 by 2009.   However, since 2004, the forestry sink has seen a slight decrease due to a drop off in historic planting rates.

CHART_Age of Scottish Woodland

5.0  Scottish Forestry Strategy

The Scottish Forestry Strategy [5.0], introduced in 2006, recognises the importance of trees and forestry as a sustainable source of building materials and fuel, a natural environment for wildlife, a recreational space in addition to a method of storing atmospheric carbon and mitigation of fossil fuel CO2 emissions.

MAP_Scottish Woodland Cover

Scotland has the biological resource to support a far greater area of woodland than the current 18% of land area, as proven by historical records.   In the MacAualy report of 2006 [5.1], an assessment of potential expansion of Scottish woodland concluded the following:

  • 33%      Suitable without Biological or Land Use Planning Constraint
  • 10%      No Biological but Minor Land Use Planning Constraint
  • 18%      No Biological but Moderate Land Use Planning Constraint
  • 39%      Unsuitable.  Either Biological or Critical  Land Use Planning Constraint

Recognising that in the BAU (Business As Usual) scenario, sequestration by forestry would decline by around 4 Mega tonnes CO2e between 2009 and 2022 – a legacy of historical woodland creation rates, which declined in the 1990s after high levels of planting in the 1970s and 1980s – the Scottish government developed the strategy to encourage afforestation and improved woodland management.  The strategy has two target levels for afforestation.  The minimum target to achieve 25% of land coverage by 2050 is set in policy, and the stretch target of 29% coverage is by proposal.

CHART_Scottish Woodland 1945-2050

Since carbon sequestration by forestry is a function of planted area, yield class and tree age, predicting future rates is complex.  However, by increasing forest area and with management geared towards harvesting mature trees and replanting at sustained levels, absorption and storage of atmospheric carbon can be maximised.

CHART_Scottish Woodland Planting 1976-2010

This aim was reaffirmed in the Scottish Government’s Rationale for Woodland Expansion [5.2] in 2009, which set a target of planting a further 650,000 hectares of woodland. This requires woodland planting rates to increase to an average of 10,000 ha/yr. 

Scottish Ministers have pledged to plant 100 million trees by 2015 as part of The Climate Group States and Regions Alliance’s [5.3] commitment to plant 1 billion trees to encourage governments, businesses and communities worldwide to plant a tree for each person on the planet.

  • Cost of woodland planting programme of 10,000 ha/yr (2011-2022) is £542 million (£5,300/ha)
  • Financial support by Scottish Rural Development Programme (£1.5 billion 2007 – 2013)
  • Additional planting on the National Forest Estate. (SRDP February 2010)
  • Policies: Reducing emissions from Rural Land Use by increasing woodland creation to 10,000 hectares per year.  Expected abatement: 310 Kilo tonnes CO2e in 2020
  • Proposals: Reducing emissions from Rural Land Use by increasing woodland creation to 15,000 hectares per year.  Expected abatement: (310 +) 144 Kilo tonnes CO2e in 2020.

 6.0  Summary and Conclusions

  • Trees act as a carbon store, helping to remove CO2 from the atmosphere.
  • Deforestation releases stored carbon back to the atmosphere.
  • The IPCC sees afforestation as a significant mitigation strategy against Global Warming.
  • Scotland has much less forested area than before and can support expansion.
  • Properly managed forests combined with wood manufacture and construction can increase the carbon sink.

UK Liquid Energy

titles_energy production_4

Written for the Coursera (MOOC) Class ‘Energy, the Environment and Our Future’ by Pennsylvania State University (Jan 2014).

The United Kingdom has been extracting oil commercially from oil shale since 1851.  However, large scale extraction began more recently with discovery of the Montrose field in the North Sea in 1969.  In 2011, 1.043 million barrels per day of crude oil (51,972 thousand tonnes per year) was produced [1].

TABLE_UK Crude Oil 2011_UK Liquid Energy

According to the UK government statistics, Department of Energy and Climate Change, approximately two-thirds of UK crude used was produced in the UK.  The vast majority of imported crude oil came from our North Sea neighbour, Norway.

This is illustrated in the DECC chart below.

CHART_UK Oil Imports 1998-2011_UK Liquid Energy

Historically, the UK was a heavy importer of crude at the onset of major domestic production in 1970.  By the early 80’s, the UK was a net exporter of crude oil and remained so until 2005. Indigenous production has declined steadily since 2000.

These trends are illustrated in Figure 1, below.

CHART_UK CrudeOil 1970-2011_UK Liquid Energy

Figure 1: UK Crude Oil (1970-2011)

Refined petroleum products, are processed at one of the seven remaining refineries in the UK.  There were 18 refineries in operation in the late 70’s, but largely due to competition from refineries in the Middle East and Asia, many have closed down, two closed between 2009 and 2012 [2].

In 2011, almost 70 million tonnes (1.4 million barrels per day) of petroleum products were used in the UK.  The breakdown of products is listed in Table 2, below.  Transportation fuels constitute the bulk of liquid fuels used.

Table 2: UK Petroleum Products 2011[1]

Thousand Tonnes per Year Barrels per Day Percentage
Petrol (Gasoline) 13,890 297,030 20.0
Diesel 20,990 421,540 30.2
Aviation Fuel 11,570 232,430 16.7
Other Energy Use 15,770 316,740 22.7
Non-Energy Use 7,250 145,690 10.4
Total 69,490 1,395,430 100.0

The historical trends for UK Petroleum Usage between 1999 and 2011, is shown graphically in Figure 2 below.  The recent overall trend is downward.  There has been a constant reduction in petrol (gasoline) consumption for the past decade, with all other uses including diesel and aviation stable for the past 5 years.

CHART_UK Petroleum Products Use 1999-2011_UK Liquid Energy

Figure 2: UK Petroleum Products Usage (1999-2011)

When we examine the end user data, there is one super-user in the group, see Table 3 below.  Transportation accounted for nearly 80 percent of petroleum usage in 2011.  All other industry and commercial use, including agriculture was 16 percent and domestic non-transportation use accounted for almost 4 percent.

Table 3: UK Petroleum End Users 2011[1]

Thousand Tonnes per Year Barrels per Day Percentage
Electricity Generation 830 16,720 1.3
Other Energy Ind 4,450 89,440 7.2
Other Industries 4,080 81,950 6.6
Transport 48,680 977,690 78.9
Domestic 2,400 48,220 3.9
Agri, Commerce, etc 1,250 25,150 2.0
Total 61,710 1,239,160 100.0

Historically this is true also.  Figure 3 below, plots the numbers from 1999 to 2011.  Transportation fuel gas been the far greatest demand on petroleum in the UK for decades.  All other uses have remained fairly constant.

CHART_UK Petroleum End Users 1999-2011_UK Liquid Energy

Figure 3: UK Petroleum End Use (1999-2011)


[1]  Digest of UK Energy Statistics, UK Gov.

[2]  Deloitte report commissioned by DECC in 2010

Forests and Forestry in Latvia

titles_forestry agriculture_4

Written for Coursera (MOOC) Class ‘Climate Change‘ by the University of Melbourne (Sept 2013, some data updated May 2014).

Some 1,000 years ago, Latvia was covered with about 80 percent of mixed forest (birch, pine, spruce), with little open land. When the population rose, more land was used for agricultural production and by 1920, as little as 23 percent of Latvia remained forestland. During Soviet times many forested areas were left unkempt and thrived, and by the turn of the century the official percentage for Latvian forest coverage was 47 percent. Currently the figure hovers around 50 percent.  (Professor Zigurds Zalins, University of Agriculture, Jelgava).

Timber and Forest Resources, is the number one industry in Latvia and it continues to grow. Exports of wood pulp and raw timber are a valuable economic asset, with about two-thirds of Latvia’s timber product going to the U.K. [1]

This sustainable resource allows Latvia to offset it’s already relatively low carbon emissions to the point where it is actually a net absorber of atmospheric CO2. [2]

Latvia CO2 LUCF 2002-2012

Latvia Summary (UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, c1990) [3]

  • Forests cover 2.7 million ha or 42% of total land area (64,000 km2).
  • During the last 70 years the area of Latvian forestry has grown steadily.
  • Forest Area (as percent of total land) Increased from 24.7% in 1923 to 41% in 1991.
  • Distribution of woodlands in Latvia:
  • Areas with higher forest coverage are:
    • Central Forests (Riga region),
    • Southeast Forest (Cesis and Madona regions)
    • Western Forest (Ventspils, Liepaja, Talsi regions).
  • The highest forest coverage is in the Ventspils region – 60 percent; the lowest in the Bauska region – 28.8 percent.
  • Latvia Forestry is divided into three categories, according to their function and importance from the ecological, economical or from the point of view of some specific function:
    • Class I – protected forests (in state reserves, national parks and wildlife parks, and anti-erosion forests, as well as forest parks in the green zone), 12.6 percent;
    • Class II – restricted management forests (in protected landscape areas, in the green zone and other forests which are significant to environmental protection), 38.5 percent;
    • Class III – exploitable forests (all other forests), 48.9 percent.

UNFCCC Report 2010 Latvian Annual Submission [4]

“The energy sector is the main sector in the GHG inventory of Latvia. In 2008, emissions from the energy sector amounted to 8,505.63 Gg CO2 eq, or 71.4 per cent of total GHG emissions. 

Since 1990, emissions have decreased by 56.0 per cent. The key driver for the fall in emissions is the decrease in energy demand during the early 1990s and the recent recession in the national economy caused mainly by the international crisis. 

 Within the sector, 42.3 per cent of the emissions were from transport, followed by 23.7 per cent from energy industries, 18.9 per cent from other sectors and 13.8 per cent from manufacturing industries and construction. Fugitive emissions from fuels accounted for 1.3 per cent and other

accounted for 0.04 per cent.” 

UNFCCC Report of 2012 Latvian Annual Submission [5] 

“In 2010, the main greenhouse gas (GHG) in Latvia was carbon dioxide (CO2), accounting for 70.1 per cent of total GHG emissions1 expressed in carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2 eq), followed by methane (CH4) (14.7 per cent) and nitrous oxide (N2O) (14.4 per cent). 

Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs) and sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) collectively accounted for 0.8 per cent of the overall GHG emissions in the country. The energy sector accounted for 69.8 per cent of total GHG emissions, followed by the agriculture sector (19.3 per cent), the waste sector (5.5 per cent), the industrial processes sector (5.1 per cent) and the solvent and other product use sector (0.3 per cent). 

Total GHG emissions amounted to 12,097.70 Gg CO2 eq and decreased by 54.5 per cent between the base year2 and 2010.”



[1] Seeing the Forest for the Trees – Latvia’s Green Gold, The Baltic Times, 21 April 2011.

[2] UNFCCC Data 2014,

[3] Forests and Forestry in Latvia, UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, c1990

[4] UNFCCC Report 2010 Latvian Submission (13 April 2011) FCCC/ARR/2010/LVA (PDF)

[5] UNFCCC Report 2012 Latvian Submission (12 April 2013) FCCC/ARR/2012/LVA (PDF)