Wind Power: Beneficial nationally and locally

Energy generation via wind continued its strong showing in Scotland in January 2015 with the country’s instillations generating enough electricity to power 146% of Scottish homes. The data released last week also showed that wind turbines produced a 27% increase on last January’s output totalling 1,307,629MWh of electricity to the grid so far in 2015.

This means that wind generated enough power to supply 100% or more of Scottish households on 24 of January’s 31 days and for two of these days the output was over 200% of our domestic electricity needs. Maximum output of 206% (60,800MWh approx), enough to supply electricity to over 5million homes) happened on the 14th of January.

These figures come off the back of an excellent start of year for the UK on a whole as discussed last week. 14% of the UK’s electricity came from wind power in January with weekly and half-hourly generation records being broken.

Discussing the new Scottish figures WWF Scotland’s director Lang Banks said “While January’s wintry weather caused havoc for many people, it also proved to be a good month for wind power output in Scotland Even on calmer days, when wind wasn’t at its strongest, wind still generated enough to support the electricity needs of more than a quarter of our households.

“While January’s wind output may have got 2015 off to a flyer, it’s important to remember that household electricity demand only makes up two-fifths of Scotland’s total needs,” added Banks.

“Our recently-published study on delivering a decarbonised electricity system shows that a renewable efficient power system for Scotland is perfectly achievable by 2030. However, for this to happen we need to see a commitment to a 2030 UK-wide electricity decarbonisation target, long-term certainty for the renewables sector, and much greater efforts to reduce electricity demand.

“We’re looking forward to seeing what each of the political parties will set out in their election manifestos that will help deliver a low-carbon Scotland.”

Despite the very seasonal weather January was also a successful month for solar energy in Scotland as there was enough sunshine to generated 37% of the electricity requirements of an average home in Aberdeen, 24% in Edinburgh and 30% in Glasgow.

Karen Robinson of WeatherEnergy – which provided the data – said: “Scotland is clearly leading the way when it comes to wind power. However, despite misconceptions, Scotland also has potential for sun-loving renewables too.

“The data clearly show that there’s plenty of sunshine to meet a significant proportion of an average family’s electricity needs for most months of the year – even during some of the winter months. With hundreds of thousands of roofs, it would make sense to tap more of the sun’s power.”

As well as providing Scotland with clean renewable energy many of these instillations have community funds which support local projects and groups through grants including Scottish and Southern Electricity’s Drumderg wind farm in Perth & Kinross which has now passed the £500,000 mark for local community project funding. The community fund which benefits projects in east Perthshire passed the £500,000 milestone at the recent round of grants.

This year over £55,000 was split between seven projects including £10,000 to help build a succession of walking paths in and around the village of Kirkmichael. This project is expected to cost £60,000 overall and is being delivered by the Mount Blair Community Development Trust in partnership with the Perthshire Countryside Trust.

The project is also receiving a grant from the Legacy 2014 Active Places Fund and will see the construction off a four route walkway covering over 14 miles and taking in the Pitcarmick Estate and Kindrogan Forest.

Other projects receiving grants from the wind farm fund this year include Alyth Girl Guides who have been awarded £20,000 to cover the next phase of the construction of their new hut. Also £10,000 has been allocated to Kirkmichael Session House for vital repairs and £10,000 has been set aside to create a new arts programme based at the Cateran Trail.

The community fund was established at the construction phase of SSE’s 16-turbine Drumderg wind farm near Alyth and is now in its seventh year. Projects, groups and residents of the surrounding Alyth and Mount Blair communities can apply for grants which come from a percentage of the income from the development.

The decision of where the funds are to be allocated each year is made by an independent panel of local people. Mount Blair Community Development Trust director Lucy Holt speaking of the fund said “The new path network will put Kirkmichael firmly on the map as a great place to come and walk in Perthshire. Not only will this provide a welcome long-term boost for the local hotels and community-owned village shop, it will also be a great asset for locals, who will be able to access the beautiful countryside around them more easily.”

Also speaking of the fund and the projects it has assisted Graeme Keddie, head of community investment at SSE, said: “Reaching the £500,000 milestone is a major achievement.

“Over the last six years, the Drumderg wind farm fund has supported key community development activity across Alyth and Mount Blair, including initiatives for young people and the elderly, major improvements in community facilities, and vital funding for sporting, education and environmental groups.

“I’d like to thank the local panel for the responsible way in which the funds have been distributed and, with around £100,000 available each year, I’d encourage any community groups looking for support to get in touch.”

Although not on the same scale each of ILI Energy’s wind power instillations provide a community fund or contribution. Depending on the Local Authority this could mean paying directly to their community fund or as with Drumderg, local groups and projects can receive funds directly.

There is no obligation upon us to do this however we feel strongly about giving something back to communities. Such funds are beneficial to the growth of the communities demonstrating a value which cannot be measured in pounds and pence.

 

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