One of the strengths of Scotland’s businesses is the diversity of expertise across all renewable energy systems – from conventional onshore wind, through to innovative solutions (such as hydrogen generation). Scotland has led the way in developing energy systems solutions. It continues to identify new solutions to deliver increasing levels of penetration of renewables, while improving security of supply and reducing the costs of energy.
A wide range of technologies is delivered from Scotland.
- Wind and solar are the most cost-effective solutions and key to achieving up to 50% renewable energy penetration. Some Scottish islands already provide more than 100% of their electricity supply through onshore wind and then use energy storage (pumped storage, hydrogen or batteries) to provide heat and transport energy needs from electricity.
- Hydroelectricity is a relatively predictable technology with a clear commercial role on islands that have significant water catchment areas. On some islands, hydroelectricity already provides 50% of the supply.
- Ocean-based technologies include offshore wind (with foundations where islands have sea floor shelves or floating turbines in steep-sided volcanic islands). Tidal steam and wave power have significant potential as part of island-wide energy systems, particularly on islands where diesel generation is being replaced. Tidal technology has been demonstrated at small, medium and large scale. Scotland has played a leading role globally in the design of turbines and their demonstration at the European Marine Energy Centre. Scotland hosts one of the largest commercial tidal arrays in the world. Wave energy technology has been demonstrated through a small number of installations and has a role in future island systems that have an appropriate resource.
- Moving from diesel to gas, usually in the form of imported liquefied natural gas (LNG). There are additional commercial opportunities for biomass, biogas and energy-from-waste technologies as these are relatively controllable forms of energy that can potentially can be produced locally.
- Renewable heat has a role in some economies in industrial, commercial and domestic applications. Some islands have a demand for cooling, which may be driven by solar or other low-carbon electricity generation.
In addition to the primary generation technologies required to deliver island energy systems, balancing electricity networks is more difficult with a smaller number of generators and users, and less geographic diversity. Scottish companies provide smart systems solutions (such as active network management, electricity and heat storage, and artificial intelligence) to inform forecasting as a means of ensuring security of supply across an increasingly diverse energy network.
As well as matching an island’s energy resources and needs, all energy systems need to suit the wider environmental and practical circumstances.