Scotland’s electricity consumption isn’t 100% renewable

15 November 2021
What was claimed

Just short of 100% of all the electricity Scotland uses is from renewable sources.

Our verdict

Scotland produces renewable electricity equivalent to its annual consumption, but some of this is exported, meaning it uses significant amounts of non-renewable electricity as well. In 2020, 56% of the electricity consumed in Scotland came from renewable sources.

“We’ve virtually decarbonised our electricity supply. Just short of 100% of all the electricity we use is from renewable sources.”

The Scottish National Party (SNP) leader and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has claimed that almost all electricity used in Scotland is from renewable sources. This is not correct.

This might refer to the fact that the Scottish Government estimates that in 2020, Scotland produced 32,063 gigawatt hours (GWh) of renewable electricity, equivalent to around 97% of its entire electricity consumption. But this doesn’t mean that Scotland itself used all this electricity.

Scotland actually produces more electricity than it uses, including a substantial amount from fossil fuels and nuclear energy. In 2019, renewables accounted for 61% of electricity generated in Scotland, nuclear 25%, and gas and oil 13%

Suggesting that near 100% of electricity used in Scotland is from renewable sources would be true if Scotland used all its renewable electricity and only exported non-renewable. 

But that’s not how electricity systems work. 

In fact, the Scottish Government estimates that, in 2020, 56% of the electricity consumed in Scotland came from renewable sources, 30% from nuclear and 13% from fossil fuels.

Renewables still account for far more of Scotland’s electricity consumption than in England and Wales.

But to suggest it's almost 100% is misleading.

The Scottish Government told Full Fact the First Minister was referring to Scotland’s gross electricity consumption and it was not her intention to suggest otherwise.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Scotland has a hugely positive story to tell in renewables, which provided the equivalent of 96% of Scotland’s gross electricity consumption in 2020."

 

Update 16 November 2021

This article has been updated with comment from the Scottish Government.

We deserve better than bad information.

After we published this fact check, we contacted the SNP to request clarification regarding this claim.

They added text underneath the video on their website but this did not explain that Nicola Sturgeon made an incorrect claim in the video.

They did not add any information to their social media pages where the video was shared. 

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