The Case for Renewable Energy

A new YouGov survey commissioned by Scottish Renewables has again shown that renewable energy is the popular source of power in Scotland. The survey revealed that 62% of the 1000 surveyed would support a large-scale wind turbine installation in their local area compared with 32% who would support nuclear and 24% for shale gas extraction (fracking).

The poll also found that 75% of those surveyed would rather the majority of their electricity was generated from low carbon sources with hydro at 27% being the most popular choice followed by wind at 18%, solar at 15% and nuclear at 13%. Coal and gas was only chosen by 3% each and shale 1%.

70% of those polled stated that they would like more energy generation from renewable sources such as wind, solar, tidal, and wave with two thirds of those asked agreeing that Scotland’s next government should “continue to take forward policies that tackle greenhouse gas emissions and climate change.”

Only 19% of the responses were in favour of fracking being prioritised by the new governments and 42% stated that the government should not favour building new or extending the life of coal and gas power stations. 33% answered that new nuclear plants should be prioritised.

Also a number of renewable technologies were chosen when asked if they would consider installing any device to help with their own energy needs. Solar panels were the most popular choice followed by wind turbines, biomass boilers, heat pumps and small-scale hydro turbines.

Niall Stuart, Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables, said: “The poll suggests that the people of Scotland continue to be strongly behind the growth of renewable energy, with support for the sector way ahead of any other.

“Just months after the Paris climate change agreement, the poll also shows clear support for Scotland’s next government to prioritise policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Renewable energy’s popularity should be noted by the UK government as well it was revealed last week that the UK was not on track to meet its fourth carbon budget that the policy gap “absolutely” needed to be filled immediately.

Responding to questioning by members of the Energy and Climate Change (ECC) Committee in Parliament Dr. Nina Skorupska CBE, Chief Executive of the Renewable Energy Association was joined by other energy industry leaders including Lawrence Slade, CEO of Energy UK and Philip Sellwood, CEO of the Energy Saving Trust.

When asked by Committee member Julian Sturdy MP asked the panel in regards to meeting our 4th Carbon Budget commitments “How quickly does this policy gap need to be filled? You’re saying immediately really, we’re not talking about the end of this parliament, we’re talking about now?” Dr. Skorupska responded “absolutely.”

The Committee heard that the government has introduced thirteen detrimental energy policy changes that have restricted the growth of renewables in the UK, including the loss of Zero Carbon Homes and that far greater coordination was additionally required between government departments in order to meet our legal heat and transport targets.

When asked about the fifth carbon budget Dr. Skorupska argued that the Committee on Climate Change needed to re-evaluate energy storage as they “missed out on how fast this was moving.”

Following the evidence session, James Court, Head of Policy and External Affairs at the REA said: “The country faces declining electricity supplies and is lagging behind in its urgent decarbonisation goals. All the while, since the election the government has been making it more difficult to deploy renewables such as solar, biomass, and biogas which can be deployed cheaply and quickly.

The Committee on Climate Change holds an important role in forming energy policy and could clearly tell the government: renewables are critical for security, for decarbonisation, and should be supported now.”

As well as commissioning new renewable installations electricity could be used in a more intelligent way, saving up to £8 billion per year, according to government experts.

The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has stated that the UK needs to store much more energy from intermittent renewable like wind and solar with fridges, freezers and washing machines all playing a part.

The NIC claim that this could be the initial move towards an “Internet of Energy” with appliances such as freezers linked via the web to the grid. During periods of peak demand a server at the consumer’s energy firm could contact their smart freezer to request it powers down for a set period to allow other nearby consumers use the energy to cook for example.

The freezer being well insulated would remain cold without power for the set period so it would agree. The consumer would then be rewarded with a credit to their energy bill. When this is multiplied across thousands of users the effect is less energy will be required at peak times meaning fewer power stations are required to meet demand.

Likewise when there is low demand and an energy surplus the energy company server will contact web linked appliances to ask if they want to run on the current cheap power.

Marriott Hotels is already using a similar system to operate their air conditioning. During periods of high demand the system switches off the air conditioning however due to the amount of cold water already present it stays cools and guests are not aware it has been switched off.

The system is known as demand flexibility and the NIC stated that in order for it to work it must be supported by the government.

Public support for renewable energy in the UK has never dipped below 50% and can normally be found above 60%. Government appointed experts are claiming that renewable energy is critical for energy security and decarbonisation. Also other experts are planning innovative energy storage solutions to help balance out supply and demand.

Gather all these together, add in technology which is becoming less and less expensive and the case for placing renewable energy at the top of our energy mix has never been greater.

 

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