In 2019, Scotland passed an amendment to its 2009 Climate Change (Scotland) Act (CCA), one which placed binding targets on reducing Scotland’s greenhouse gas footprint to net-zero by 2045. And it appears the country is making progress.

According to Scottish government data, 97.4 percent of the country’s electricity demands were met by renewable sources over the course of 2020. In 2019, it was 90.1 percent. A decade ago, renewable power provided less than a third of the country’s energy output.

“Renewable energy projects are displacing tens of millions of tonnes of carbon every year, employing the equivalent of 17,700 people and bringing enormous socio-economic benefits to communities,” explained Claire Mack, the chief executive of Scottish Renewables, the trade body for Scotland’s green energy industry. Mack attributes the rapid takeover of renewable energy to the “tremendous motivator” of the CCA.

Most of the green energy, over two thirds, comes from onshore wind power, the massive turbines dotting the Scottish countryside. Hydroelectric dams and weirs and offshore wind turbines make up the rest, altogether generating enough power for over seven million households. That’s so close to being enough for all of Scotland’s residents (5.5 million) and its industry as well.

The next goals for renewables are heating and transport, both of which are still heavily tied to fossil fuels.

With the approach of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) later this year, Scotland hopes to be an inspiration for other countries with renewable goals.

“As one of the nations which helped to create the industrial age,” said First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the Scottish Renewables online conference, “we want this year to help lead the world into the net-zero age.

“I expect Scotland will continue to make big strides towards our net-zero goal. I know the renewables sector will be an indispensable partner as we work towards that,” she said.

Photo: Wind turbines by the walking trail at Whitelee Windfarm on Eaglesham Moor in Scotland. Credit: Maritxu /