It was announced last week that Scottish and Southern Energy has for the first time generated more energy from it’s onshore wind turbines than it generated from it’s hydro-electric power plants. Indeed the company now has over 1 gigawatt worth of installed capacity of onshore wind turbines. These turbines produce enough energy to power over 750,000 homes. Scottish and Southern Energy has over 11 gigawatts of installed energy capacity from all sources (including hydro-electric power , gas power stations and onshore wind). The rapid growth of the onshore wind sector (and renewables in general) is demonstrated by the fact that six years ago Scottish and Southern Energy had only 40 megawatts of installed onshore wind generation.
Ian Marchant, chief executive of SSE made the following statement on the news:
“Passing the 1GW milestone for onshore wind farm capacity is a very positive development as we start the New Year. With construction work continuing at sites in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, we expect that our operating onshore wind farm capacity will continue to grow significantly in the coming months.”
Richard Dixon, the director of WWF Scotland commented:
“SSE is to be congratulated, 1GW of wind power is a tremendous milestone. Just the wind-powered electricity from this one company represents enough capacity to provide a quarter of Scotland’s average electricity demand in ideal conditions.
“To meet our climate and energy targets, we need more wind turbines, as well as other renewables. SSE has an important part to play in this.”
A spokesman for the Scottish Government argued that their renewables policy was already “delivering hundreds of millions of pounds of investment and thousands of jobs.
“This is a historic milestone for SSE and plays a key role in ensuring communities all over Scotland will benefit from renewable energy generation.”
It should be remembered, of course, that SSE are only one player in an increasingly large industry.
Scottish Renewables, the industry’s leading trade body, announced that over the course of 2010 onshore wind turbines produced more than 10% of Scotland’s energy demand.
Given the increase in installed capacity in 2011 we can fully expect that next year the figure will be even higher.
Niall Stuart, chief executive of Scottish Renewables released the following statement with the news:
“The recent high winds have resulted in higher output from wind farms, despite some turbines having to close down in the very worst of the storms.
“Onshore wind makes an invaluable contribution all year round, meeting around 12% of the electricity demand of Scotland in 2010.
“Despite the critics, 2011 is on track to be a record year for the renewables industry and 2012 will likely see us set the bar even higher.”
These two recent announcements demonstrate that onshore wind can, and indeed already is, contribute in a major way to Scotland’s and the UK’s energy needs.