Scotland has ambitiously committed to meeting 100 percent of its electricity needs with renewable energy sources by 2020. Despite critics who say this goal is unrealistic, the Scots are not messing around. Recent figures show that 2011 was a record-breaking year for renewables in Scotland, and that the country is on track to meet its interim target of 31 percent.
Even the utilities are on board. SSE, a utility company in the United Kingdom, has recently announced that it now owns and operates 1 gigawatt (GW) of onshore wind power capacity – most of it Scotland and Northern Ireland. While the company only had 40 MW of onshore wind capacity six years ago, onshore wind power now exceeds hydroelectric power in its portfolio for the first time ever. The announcement marks the second wind power developer to reach this milestone in the U.K., after ScottishPower Renewables, a subsidiary of Iberdrola, became the first to hit the 1-GW mark six months ago.
In addition to the 30 existing onshore wind farms in its portfolio, SSE also has 48 onshore and seven offshore projects currently under development. In 2011 alone, SSE commissioned more than 300 MW of onshore wind capacity. The company’s interactive assets and projects map shows that construction at the 156-MW Griffin wind project in Perthshire, Scotland, is expected to be completed in spring 2012, and construction has also begun on the 350-MW Clyde wind project in South Lanarkshire – the largest “single consented” wind farm (excluding expansion projects) in Europe. SSE has also proposed a 504-MW expansion of the Greater Gabbard offshore wind farm off the coast of Suffolk, in the North Sea.