Scotland ‘on course’ to meet ambitious net-zero emissions target – while delivering a stunning backdrop for off-road electric racing series

Scotland has led the way in renewable energy initiatives and has set ambitious targets for transitioning to a low-carbon economy, with specific goals for the country to become a net-zero emitter of greenhouse gases by 2045 which has led to a number of exciting projects and initiatives in the renewable energy sector.

Ahead of COP26 in Glasgow in 2021, then Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero Energy and Transport, Michael Matheson said: ‘…we’re one of the fastest decarbonising countries in the G20 and almost 100% of our electricity now comes from renewable sources’.

And he wasn’t wrong. According to the latest figures from the Scottish government, renewable electricity generation in Scotland reached 11,496 GWh in Q3 2022, up 10.3 per cent from the same period in the previous year.

We explore some of these initiatives taking place in this small yet highly progressive country, including a significant project being undertaken at Extreme E’s next X Prix race location, the Hydro X Prix – which takes place imminently at the Glenmuckloch opencast former coal mine site (13-14 May 2023).

The Glenmuckloch Project

Glenmuckloch, the restored opencast former coal mine situated in Dumfries and Galloway, is about to undergo the next phase of a major transformation into a pumped storage hydropower (PSH) plant and wind farm. The wind farm project in Glenmuckloch is being developed by UK renewable energy company, Intelligent Land Investments (ILI). The project will include the creation of a 400MW PSH plant, which will use surplus energy from wind turbines to pump water from a lower reservoir to a higher reservoir. When energy demand is high, the water will be released from the upper reservoir to generate electricity.

But before that work begins in earnest, the Glenmuckloch site will be used to provide a poignant backdrop for off-road electric racing series, Extreme E as it makes its Scottish race debut here in a matter of weeks. Using sport as a platform Extreme E focuses on raising awareness of climate change and global solutions, and recently announced Glenmuckloch as the venue for its much-anticipated Hydro X Prix.

In addition to the planned PSH plant at Glenmuckloch, the project will also include the construction of a 150MW wind farm, which will consist of up to 20 wind turbines. Together, the PSH plant and wind farm will generate enough clean energy to power approximately 300,000 homes and will help Scotland to meet its target of generating 50% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.

The Glenmuckloch project is a collaboration between Buccleuch Energy and 2020 Renewables.

Wind energy

Scotland is recognised an ideal location for wind energy production which is expected to play a key role in achieving the country’s ongoing targets. The country is home to several large-scale wind farms, including the Whitelee Wind Farm which is the largest onshore wind farm in the UK, and the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm that ranks as one of the largest offshore wind farms in the world.

One of the most exciting wind energy projects in Scotland is the Viking Energy Wind Farm , which is currently under construction on the Shetland Islands. When completed, the wind farm will have a capacity of 443 MW, making it one of the largest onshore wind farms in the UK. The project is a joint venture between SSE Renewables and Viking Energy Shetland, a community-owned company. The wind farm is expected to create jobs in the local area and provide a significant boost to the local economy.

Coire Glas pumped storage hydro scheme

The Coire Glas pumped storage hydro scheme is a major renewable energy project in the Scottish Highlands, which is expected to generate up to 1500 MW of electricity. The project is being developed by SSE Renewables and will involve the construction of a large reservoir at the top of a mountain, which will be used to store water for generating electricity.

The Coire Glas project has faced some opposition from local residents, who are concerned about the impact on the local landscape and wildlife. However, SSE Renewables has worked closely with local communities to address these concerns, and the project has received support from the Scottish government.

Tidal energy in Scotland

Scotland is also home to several tidal energy projects, which harness the power of the tides to generate electricity. One of the most exciting tidal energy projects in Scotland is the MeyGen tidal energy project, which is located in the Pentland Firth, off the north coast of Scotland. The project is the largest tidal energy project in the world, with a capacity of up to 398 MW.

The MeyGen project involves the installation of underwater turbines, which generate electricity from the flow of the tides. The project has faced a number of challenges, including the harsh weather conditions in the Pentland Firth, but it has also received support from the Scottish government, which sees it as an important part of Scotland’s transition to a low-carbon economy.

The stunning race location for the Hydro X Prix will be best viewed live on STV and ITV, in the UK, over both Saturday 13 and Sunday 14 May to enable the best views. Outside of the UK, please visit here for broadcaster details.

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