Scotland rewrote the record books for electricity generated by wind power as in February this year the country’s turbines produced enough electricity to power four million homes, 1,330,000 megawatt hours of electricity.
This is up 43% on February 2016 and keeps up the ongoing year by year increase. However with few new developments it will be interesting to see how these figures pan out over the next few years.
Karen Robinson, of WeatherEnergy, which compiled the figures, said: “As we began to witness for the first time last year, this February has also seen a few days where the power output from wind farms exceeded the total electricity demand for an entire day. This is quite an achievement.
“With the increasing occurrence of 100% wind power days’ there can be little doubt that Scotland is well-placed to begin the next step of increasing the role that renewables could play in cutting carbon emissions from its transport and heating sectors.”
Lang Banks, director of WWF Scotland, stressed the importance of wind energy to the Scottish economy and efforts to reduce the greenhouse gases that are causing climate change.
“As well as helping to power our homes and businesses, wind power supports thousands of jobs and helps Scotland to avoid over a million tonnes of polluting carbon emissions every month,” he said.
He urged politicians to do more to help the transition to a low-carbon economy.
“Every one of the main political parties supports the aim of generating half of all Scotland’s energy needs from renewables by 2030 – including heat, electricity and transport,” Mr Banks said.
“With this level of political backing, we call upon all of the parties to now bring forward policies that will help maximise the benefits to Scotland’s economy, as we transition to a renewable future.”
Also reported in Scotland this week a European consortium, led by Edinburgh-based tidal energy firm Nova Innovation, has secured €4.4 million (£3.8m) in funding to help towards commercialising technology designed to significantly cut the costs of generating energy from the sea. The funding from the European Commission will pay for the construction and testing of a device to convert the mechanical power in a tidal turbine rotor into electricity that is exported into the grid.
Simon Forrest, managing director of Nova Innovation, said: “This will be a major step forward for the global sector and significantly drive down the lifetime cost of tidal energy.”
Unfortunately it is not all good news though as industry body Scottish Renewables warned its members were expecting their workforce to shrink by 16.9 per cent over the next 12 months. That’s approximately one in every six industry employee likely to be out of work within a year.
Jenny Hogan, Scottish Renewables’ policy director, said one of the main problems was the UK Government was refusing to allow onshore wind and solar energy to bid against fossil fuel companies for long-term contracts to supply electricity.
“These results show that changes to and closures of support schemes are having an impact on our members and on the numbers of employees within their businesses,” she said.
“The UK Government is rightly excited about the economic opportunities presented by the impacts of the global shift to low-carbon energy, but it’s really important we don’t forget about the jobs in our renewable energy sector today.
“Onshore wind and solar are the two cheapest forms of electricity, but ministers are refusing to allow them to access long-term contracts for power, which will result in a marked slowdown in investment and a decrease in employment, as our survey has suggested.”
ILI Energy is part of the Scottish renewable energy industry and in particular wind turbine development and we have witnessed this slowdown first hand. Consultants, developers, operators and the majority of companies that work in our industry here in Scotland have had to reduce their workforce and reduce spending.
However without the long term commitment from government the value in individual projects and subsequently the industry overall will continue to reduce having an adverse effect on all involved.
Yet we have demonstrated again and again that there is value in what we as an industry does, both economically and environmentally. With the correct incentives we can continue to grow and ultimately provide clean cost effective electricity for the entire country while selling on the surplus to eager customers.