Efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, together with the increase in electricity generated from renewable energy, are dramatically changing the electricity supply landscape. Among other things, this has involved the closure of large, fossil-fuelled thermal power stations. Such changes introduce challenges associated with security of electricity supply including: having access to enough dependable sources of electricity to meet all of the demand for power sufficiently often; and preventing, containing and recovering from interruptions to supply arising from disturbances. The latter includes the capability to restore supplies following a blackout of the whole country.

This study reports and reviews the opinions of industry experts and stakeholders regarding security of electricity supply in Scotland, collected in May 2021 via an online survey and subsequent discussions in a round table event (conducted under ‘Chatham House rules’) in July 2021. As well as perceptions of the status of security of electricity supply today and in the future, this report presents the consulted stakeholders’ views as to the most significant challenges and the steps needed to ensure security of electricity supply as the energy transition proceeds.

Main issues examined

Security of electricity supply aspects

  1. Electricity imports: If there is not enough power available from power plant within a particular area at any one time to match demand in the area, demand could still be served by importing power.
  2. Meeting Scottish power demand: Central to electricity security of supply is the capability to meet the consumer’s power demand with a sufficient level of reliability. Considering the transitioning power system, it is important to be confident that demand for electrical energy can be met reliably both now and in the future.
  3. Power system operability: Operability of the power system concerns the ability to operate a stable system in which its physical limits and those of its various elements are respected. 
  4. Scottish power system resilience: A resilient power system is one that can prevent, contain and recover from interruptions to electricity supply arising from disturbances to the system.
  5. Power system restoration: In the event of widespread disruption, the power system must be able to quickly restore critical supplies, and thereby minimise the impact of the disruption to electricity supply. 

Environmental sustainability aspects

  1. Meeting Scottish greenhouse gas emissions targets: This aspect provides insights as to the perceptions of power industry experts and stakeholders on the likelihood of achieving Scottish 2030 and 2045 emissions reduction targets.
  2. Meeting Scottish offshore wind ambitions: This aspect provides insights on the perceptions of power industry experts and stakeholders on the likelihood of achieving 11 GW offshore wind capacity by 2030.