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Switched-on Scotland?

Energy - Scotland wants 40% of its electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020. How can it do it when England can't?

The UK government's energy review reiterated the importance of renewables in the country's energy mix, upping the target of 10% electricity from renewables by 2010 to 20% by 2020.

But north of the border in Scotland, ambitions go far beyond such modest aims.

The Scottish Executive aims to have 18% of electricity coming from renewables by 2010 and a seemingly impossible 40% by 2020.

But with its small population and mountainous terrain should this be marked as a great engineering and political achievement, or simply received with a pat on the back?

England still leads in actual production, accounting for 63% of Britain's renewable generation with Scotland providing 29% and Wales trailing with a shy 8%.

Scotland depends greatly on its geography and small population of 5M to meet its renewables targets; some 57% of its total renewable generation comes from hydropower generated by damming large valleys.

The Glendoe hydropower project, which will generate enough energy to power up to 250,000 homes, will play a major role in achieving the 40% goal.

Scotland also benefits from its windy highlands ? 30% of its renewable energy comes from onshore wind.

England, in comparison, does not have large, deep valleys to flood or highlands to catch the wind. It has no hydropower and just 6% of its renewable energy comes from onshore wind. As a result it is largely dependent on landll gas.

This puts it in a Catch-22 situation: this form of generation is dependent on a large population to provide the waste, but the large population also makes the target harder to hit.

England generates some 48% of its renewable energy from landll gas and a further 41% from biomass and co-ring.

Pure biomass generation burns many types of organic matter, both animal and vegetable, such as crop stalks, tree thinnings, wooden pallets, chicken and pig waste, agricultural waste and lawn trimmings. It produces 11% of England's renewable energy.

Co-ring makes up the remaining 30% and is where up to 20% of the coal used in generation at coal-red stations is replaced with biomass products, such as wood (in the form of sawdust) and palm kernel expeller. In the future, energy crops such as miscanthus (elephant grass) and coppiced willow could be used.

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