Scotland continues to raise the bar when it comes to renewable energy production. After the announcement last week confirming that electricity from wind energy was the largest providing source in the first half of 2014, new figures released by WWF Scotland this week indicated that more than 100% of the electricity required by Scottish households in November 2014 came from wind turbines alone.
And it doesn’t stop there, on the 11th of November, when the output was at its highest, electricity to supply over 5 million households for the entire day was generated. That is equivalent to 221% of Scotland’s homes. In total wind turbines generated over 800,000MWh in November, enough to power over 2.5 million households. This total also does not include smaller turbines which supply directly to homes and businesses and are not connected into the grid meaning the final figure is likely to be even higher.
This news comes at a time of UN climate talks in Lima, Peru where Scotland has a major presence, something which should come as no surprise given our renewable energy targets and now, generation ability. WWF Scotland’s Lang Banks, speaking at the climate talks said “While Torness nuclear power station had to be shutdown unexpectedly, November turned out to be another big month for wind power in Scotland, with enough pollution-free electricity generated to supply 107 per cent of Scottish households with the electricity they need.
“Even on calmer days, when wind wasn’t at its strongest, wind still supplied the equivalent of almost a third of electricity needs of every home. It’s clear that wind is now a critical and growing part of our current power sector.”
“I’m currently at the UN climate talks spreading the word about Scotland’s world leading climate targets and the rapid progress we’re making on renewables. I hope that news of November’s renewable output, alongside news that renewables are now the largest source of electricity in Scotland, will help inspire other countries to follow our lead, embrace the clear opportunities clean energy provides and secure progress for global action on climate.”
Also at the talks is Scotland’s Environmental and Climate Change Minister Aileen McLeod. Speaking before she left she said “The scientific evidence could not be clearer. The world is getting warmer and greenhouse gas emissions from mankind are extremely likely to be the dominant cause of climate change.
“That is why I am taking a very strong message to the UN meeting in Lima that the international community must match Scotland’s world-leading climate change ambitions.
“The Scottish Government takes climate change extremely seriously. Our solid progress towards achieving a 42 per cent reduction in emissions by 2020 from a 1990 baseline has been praised by our independent assessors the Committee on Climate Change, and we have committed almost £1 billion of Scottish Government funding over the next two years for climate change action.
“We know our targets are not easy but they are at the level the international community needs to match if the new climate treaty in Paris next year is to stand a good chance of limiting global temperature rise to no more than 2 degrees Celsius.
“By sharing Scotland’s high ambition on climate change with the international delegates attending this crucial summit in Peru, we will show that substantial progress on cutting emissions is do-able as well as desirable.
“Climate change affects every single person on this planet and so it is time for the global community to step up and follow Scotland’s lead. However, these targets are not just for governments or politicians – everyone has a role to play in reducing emissions.”
Commenting on WWF’s wind power figures Dr McLeod added: “Scotland’s renewable energy targets are amongst the most ambitious in the world and we are punching above our weight in the international effort to tackle climate change.
“For example, we generated 46.6 per cent equivalent of Scotland’s gross electricity production from renewables in 2013 and we are making excellent progress towards meeting our target of the equivalent of 100 per cent of gross annual electricity demand from renewables by 2020.
“This is just one of the ways in which Scotland is working to meet our world-leading climate change ambitions which I will be urging the international community to match when I am at the UN climate talks in Lima this week.”
In related news 43% of UK households were supplied electricity from energy generated by wind turbines last Sunday (07-12-14) which is another record level. An average of 7.315GW of energy was produced by wind farms beating the previous record of 7.234GW set back in January of this year.
These figures have been welcomed by industry groups throughout the country who have argued that onshore wind as well as the cheapest form of renewable energy is also one of the most popular. Surveys constantly illustrate that around 65% of the population support wind farms and a new poll demonstrates that most home owners are happy to have wind turbines nearby.
A new poll conducted by Accent for the Energy Institute and New Power Magazine found that over 60% of home owners would welcome wind turbines within five miles of their home compared to 24% that would accept a gas extraction site and 18% that backed nuclear.
Despite this trade body RenewableUK have expressed concern that onshore wind developments are being constantly blocked at upper Government levels. Jennifer Webber RenewableUK’s director of external affairs explained “This research shows the majority of people welcome wind turbines near them, and no wonder when they’re providing clean, domestic power when it’s needed most like on cold December Sundays.
“Yet despite voters from across the political divide clearly showing that they want more wind power, it continues to be blocked. It’s time for politicians to get real and show support for the technology which currently powers over six and a half million homes for 5p a day on the average household bill.”
The support in the past from the Government has assisted the growth in our renewable energy industry, the benefits from which we are now clearly seeing. It is now however at risk as the support turns to opposition. The outcome of next year’s General Election may determine the long-term future of renewable energy in this country. Public opinion should dictate that it doesn’t but recent evidence shows us that it may.
However regardless of which political party triumphs and what their energy strategy is one thing is for certain, in the long-term all countries must have a sustainable renewable energy industry. Our other energy sources are either dangerous or finite and in the future the energy rich countries will be the envy of the world. Those that have planned ahead will be able to both supply their own population and sell the surplus to their neighbours. We in the UK are fortunate to live a country with a rich array of untapped renewable energy sources with which the right support can exceed the domestic energy demand and provide a welcome boost to the economy. Whoever finds themselves in power next summer must take advantage of this and secure a brighter future for generations to come.