Nuclear and renewables combine to provide more than three quarters of Scotland’s electricity

Official statistics published this week by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) show the vital role nuclear power plays in providing low carbon electricity in Scotland. In 2015, more than three quarters (76.9%) of power generated here came from established hydro, wind and solar renewables and Scotland’s two low carbon baseload nuclear power stations.

The regional Electricity Generation and Supply Figures report shows that last year more than a third (34.7%) of electricity generated in Scotland came from nuclear, 11% from established hydro schemes and 31% from renewables (mostly onshore wind).

In 2015, Torness and Hunterston B, generated enough electricity to power 3.9 million homes and avoided 13 million tonnes of CO2, the equivalent of taking all of Scotland’s cars off the road, two and a half times over.

Nuclear power in Scotland has remained a stable source of baseload power, with these figures showing the total power generated in 2015 was 51,200GWh, up slightly from 49,929GWh in 2014 – meaning that nuclear provided a consistent source of low carbon energy.

On a UK wide basis earlier this month renewable generation reached a record 6.42GW being supplied to the grid on 7 December. However, only 0.84GW was provided on 2 December, underlining why a balanced mix of power sources is needed to ensure a reliable and available supply for homes, businesses and public services. As the only way of providing low carbon baseload power, nuclear in Scotland continues to make a significant contribution to reducing carbon emissions and the devolved Scottish government meeting targets set in Holyrood.

Commenting on the figures, Tom Greatrex, Chief Executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said, “With more than three quarters of Scotland’s energy generation coming from low carbon sources – with nuclear and renewables generating similar amounts, and an additional 11% from established hydro schemes – Scotland’s power mix demonstrates how carbon emissions can be reduced while maintaining a reliable and secure power supply for homes, business and public services. The challenge of decarbonising our power supply needs the continued use of a mix of technologies that can utilise established hydro, benefit from nuclear baseload and offset the intermittency of wind and solar.”

“Nuclear power has been an important part of Scotland’s low carbon generation mix since for decades, and provides a greater proportion of power in Scotland than in the whole of the UK (35% in Scotland, compared to 21% across the UK). If we are to keep to our emissions low, and avoid the German experience of increased carbon intensity of power, then the combined benefit of intermittent renewables, established hydro and baseload nuclear will be required for the future.”