Environment

Scotland produces enough wind energy to power all its homes

Scotland produces enough wind ...
Scotland's Whitelee wind farm (Photo: Bjmullan)
Scotland's Whitelee wind farm (Photo: Bjmullan)
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Scotland's Whitelee wind farm (Photo: Bjmullan)
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Scotland's Whitelee wind farm (Photo: Bjmullan)

Scotland is pushing ahead with green energy, with First Minister Alex Salmond claiming that renewables could provide 100 percent of Scotland's energy by 2025. And last month, Salmond's push for wind farms appears to have borne fruit – wind power alone generated some 126 percent of the energy needed to power every home in Scotland in what the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF) is calling a "bumper month." Even solar fared well despite the chilly conditions, with domestic solar PV panels chipping in around a third of the domestic energy bill.

According to WWF figures, wind turbines produced an estimated 982,842 MWh of electricity during October 2014. That's enough to meet 3,045,000 UK homes, or 126 percent of Scotland's entire residential demand.

Of course, it's not quite that simple. Wind power is inconsistent, even on the windy Highland plains, and can't be produced on demand like gas-fired electricity, so it relies on other forms of electricity generation to fill the gaps, and can also over-generate and need to be shut down to preserve the grid when it's extra windy.

Solar chipped in too, with roof-mounted solar contributing between 30-40 percent of power needs to homes that have it installed, even through a cold October.

Scotland is already well and truly the renewable energy champion of the United Kingdom, with nearly 40 percent of its energy coming from renewable sources. Salmond's plan is to ramp up renewable energy to provide 100 percent of Scotland's entire energy requirements by 2025, and generate as much again from non-renewable sources for export, primarily to England.

Sources: WWF, Scottish Government (PDF)

17 comments
BeWalt
Funny enough, there are still people around making (in all seriousness) the case for paying for energy, instead of paying for energy systems.
Just talked to one the other day, he had a (miserable) job, and was quite happy to use a good chunk of his (miserable) pay to fill up his tank. Ranting against greenies and "that solar stuff that will never do much".
Brian M
@BeWalt - Be nice if 'energy systems' didn't have an energy cost but they do - the best they can do is reduce your energy payments!
If it wasn't for all the green subsidies 'Green' energy would be a financial non starter for most, Nonetheless anything that reduces reliance on non-renewables is good.
Ramon Verhoeven
@Brian Fossil fuel gets also a lot of subsidies (or tax breaks), so lets get rid of these and you will see that green is cheaper. What hardly mainstream is ignored is the cost of the damage fossil fuel makes to the environment and people.
ivan4
@Ramon Verhoeven,
There is no way a different tax rate can be the same as a direct payment. What you are saying is like having two rates of VAT is wrong or that the lower VAT rate is a subsidy. Also by your statement we should, if the higher tax rate is charged for fossil fuels, remove the subsidies, direct payments, to renewable sources. If that were to happen then all the wind farms would shut down because they would not be able to make the interest payments on the capital expenditure.
owlbeyou
So the discussion has turned to costs and subsidies. Of course the renewable energies need to be subsidized, and people out there are also subsidizing fossil fuel by using it in your cars and such. The oil companies stubbornly and persistently want us to stay addicted to their product with all manner of media promotions. In Canada there is an ad campaign aggressively promoting dirty oil from the Alberta tar sands as if it's a responsible and wonderful energy that keeps the economy running and provides jobs, which is true. But they ignore the devastation created to the ecosystem and to communities that live downstream from their operation. Take a look how scarred the landscape is up there. It's ugly and horrible all for the pursuit of profit.
So what Scotland has done is to be commended and used as an excellent example of the viability of renewable energy technologies that provide jobs and keep economies humming, without the potential of future screw-ups for the sake of greed.
Freyr Gunnar
Interesting that "electricity" now stands "energy".
How likely are trucks, cargo ships, and planes to run on electricity within the next twenty years?
Without big, thermal electric plants (coal, gas, nuclear, oil), how will we provide all the electricity we need 24/7, including hospitals, trains, etc.?
Alex Salmond should take a course in physics. Business and economics doesn't cut it.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alex_Salmond#Early_life_and_career
LordInsidious
Way to go Scotland! Next step storing the surplus for when the wind dies down.
sk8dad
Ambitious and commendable venture. I wish them all the success. Just add giant signs for migratory bird detour and you're all set.
Synchro
@Freyr Gunnar Right, because big thermal is the only way to generate power. At all. Ever. This 126% of domestic consumption makes for a pretty big dent in the need for big thermal plants, but it does free them up for services that must have reliable power.
There are already hybrid and electric trucks and buses. I wouldn't anticipate their use diminishing. Ships are certainly a big problem - the 15 biggest ships produce as much emissions as 760 million cars (http://www.gizmag.com/shipping-pollution/11526/) - but I don't see what domestic electricity generaton has to do with it.
You also seem to be assuming that consumption will only ever increase, which isn't necessarily true at all, and is obviously unsustainable. You also seem to be saying that because we can't do something now means we won't ever be able to, so we shouldn't even try? That's a sad, head-in-sand la-la-la point of view.
Reduce, reuse, recycle.
Derek Howe
Good for Scotland, but until their is a way to store it efficiently and (relatively) cheaply, you will always need other systems in place that can create reliable consistent power. Which rules out wind & solar, the 2 biggest players in the green energy field.
Looking 10 years out, I have 2 things I'm planning on keeping an eye on. 1. Elon Musk's Solar City: With Solar getting increasingly more affordable it's only going to be a more attractive option, plus Musk is building a 5 billion dollar battery plant, and he has said in 10 years every solar panel setup that Solar City installs will come with batteries, so you can be off the grid. 2. This one is a bit of a fingers crossed kinda thing, a few weeks back Lockheed Martin's Skunkworks division has said that have found a way to create fusion....cheaply (slightly cheaper then coal) and they believe they will have a small scale prototype in 5 years, with the larger production version to be ready to go in 10 years. If fusion becomes a reality, you can kiss ALL other methods of capturing & creating electricity goodbye.