The Scottish government believes that the country’s electricity needs in 2030 could be met by a mixture of renewable energy backed up by decarbonised thermal power generation.

The government has published its Electricity Generation Policy Statement (EGPS) in which it sets out its plans for establishing a secure, decarbonised and affordable electricity system.

It has proposed the gradual phase-out of nuclear energy in the country, greater use of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, and increased community ownership of renewable energy schemes. It believes that a new target of generating all of its electricity needs from renewable energy by 2020 are achievable.

“We know there is doubt and scepticism about our 100 per cent renewables target, and the financial and engineering challenges required to meet it,” said Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing. “But we will meet these challenges. I want to debate, engage and co-operate with every knowledgeable, interested and concerned party to ensure we achieve our goals.”

The Statement is based on research studies looking at future energy needs and supplies, and indicates that low-carbon energy options will reduce household bills. It was welcomed by utilities such as ScottishPower, SSE and National Grid.

The Scottish government wants renewable generation to operate alongside upgraded and more efficient thermal power plants fitted with CCS. It wants no new nuclear power plants to be built in Scotland, but has not ruled out extending the operating life of the country’s existing nuclear plants in order to help the transition to a decarbonised electricity system.

Scotland has a massive green energy potential and wants to capitalise on its resources. It would need around 16 GW of renewable energy capacity in order to meet its 2020 renewable energy goal.

The report recognises the need for thermal generation in the energy mix and state that “the scheduled closure of existing plants and the construction of a minimum of 2.5 GW of new or replacement efficient fossil fuel electricity generation progressively fitted with CCS would satisfy security of supply concerns”.

Excess electricity generated would be exported to the rest of the UK, says the government.

“Scotland already has the highest proportion of clean power generation across Great Britain, which plays a vital role in keeping the lights on and meeting demand,” said Alison Kay, commercial director for National Grid. “The future energy mix is uncertain and this statement sets out a clear vision for the future of energy in Scotland.”