Our first blog post comes from Fiona Munro. Fiona is a third year PhD student in the School of Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Glasgow. Her research focuses on the drivers and impact of renewable energy in Scotland. She tweets @FionaRMunro1.
Many parts of Scotland are being transformed as renewable energy resources are being exploited through new developments and infrastructure. These developments have a range of impacts on communities. Scotland has a significant amount of potential onshore and offshore renewable energy available for capture largely located in the rural and remote regions. Some of this potential renewable energy has been developed and contribute to the increasing amount of energy from low carbon sources in the UK, aiding in the UK reaching its greenhouse gas emission targets. These targets include the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 34% by 2020 and a further 80% by 2050 based on 1990 levels. Scotland has a target of 100% of electricity demand (or equivalent) in Scotland to be sourced from renewable sources by 2020.
My PhD research is uncovering the drivers and impacts of the shift to renewable energy. In particular, I investigate the implications from developing renewable energy which tend to be located in rural areas that then needs to be transported to places of high energy consumption, urban centers. I focus on Scotland and look at three case studies from across the electricity system: production (North Yell Tidal Scheme, Shetland), transmission (proposed Shetland-Scotland mainland electric grid interconnector), and storage (Cruachan Pumped-Hydro Scheme).
My research is exposing the new power dynamics and implications from the way in which Scotland is developing its renewable energy. These developments can have major positive and negative impacts on associated communities depending on how it is developed. Policies and targets are driving the shift to renewable energy particularly at the national and international levels. Policies can often have unexpected implications and knock-on effects. This research will inform policy makers who need to better understand the drivers and impacts of developing renewable energy to improve the benefits from development.
I personally greatly benefited from attending the Policy Stories course. It aided me in developing my skills in influencing policy-making through better communication of my research. I will carry these skills forward past my PhD and into my career, where I plan to make a meaningful contribution to communities in aiding their development towards sustainability.