Scotland’s renewable fuel

The results of recent analysis into the new SSE and Beatrice Offshore wind farm has shown that the £2.6 billion 84 turbine project will add £530 million to the Scottish economy. The Outer Moray Firth development was consented in March 2014 and research on the social return on the investment (SROI) shoes the £2.6bn investment is expected to add £1.13bn to UK GDP and support full-time employment in the UK.

Paul Cooley, SSE head of generation development, said: “As a UK-based energy company we strongly believe that our investment in much-needed energy infrastructure can benefit the wider society.

“The findings of the report show that our spending on the project will not just benefit the wider UK supply chain, but also the Scottish supply chain and the local communities near the wind farm.

“This research offered SSE their first chance to understand the social return on investment of the community fund, and we were thrilled to see that the fund should help create more value for the community.

” The foundations are being put into place for the project, which will be fully operational in 2019 SSE says the farm’s 84 wind turbine being assembled at Nigg Energy Park will be able to generate enough energy to power up to 450,000 homes.

Scottish Government Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy Paul Wheelhouse said: “On a national scale, the Beatrice project is set to inject £530 million into the Scottish economy, as well as providing clean energy to thousands of homes.

“The significant benefits to the Highland and Moray regions will be felt for a long time to come, as those areas are set to benefit from over £6 million in community projects, as well as the creation of over 800 jobs during the construction phase, including assembly work at Nigg Energy Park, and around 90 long-term jobs during the operations and maintenance phase, which will produce a particular boost to employment at Wick harbour.”

There was more good news this week for Scottish wind power as new data from WWF Scotland showed another new record for the renewable source for the six months of 2017. The analysis showed that wind turbines generated 1,039,001MWh of electricity in June, enough to supply the electrical needs equivalent to 118 per cent of Scottish households.

In the first six months of 2017 enough power was generated to supply more than all of Scotland’s national demand for six days. Turbines generated 6,634,585MWh of electricity which analysts say could on average supply the electrical needs of 124% (approximately 3 million) of Scottish households. The figures for the first six months this year show an increase of 24% compared to 2015.

Scotland’s total electricity consumption including homes, business and industry for first six months was 11,689,385MWh meaning wind generated the equivalent of 57 per cent of Scotland’s entire electricity needs.

Dr Sam Gardner, acting director of WWF Scotland, said: “The first six months of 2017 have certainly been incredible for renewables, with wind turbines alone helping to ensure millions of tonnes of climate-damaging carbon emissions were avoided.

“Scotland is continuing to break records on renewable electricity, attracting investment, creating jobs and tackling climate change.

“If we want to reap the same rewards in the transport and heating sectors, we need the Scottish government to put in place strong policies on energy efficiency and transport in the forthcoming Climate Change Bill.

“That’s why we’re calling on people to act for our future and tell the First Minister they want a strong climate bill that will deliver a fairer and healthier low carbon Scotland.”

Karen Robinson, of WeatherEnergy, said: “It’s great to see this data confirm that Scotland is knocking it out of the park on wind power with total output for June in particular up on the same period compared to the past two years.

“There’s no doubt renewables are helping households increasingly avoid fossil fuels for their electricity needs.”

Scotland’s energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said: “It’s great to hear renewable electricity generation in Scotland has reached a new record high. In the first quarter of this year, generation was up by 13 per cent compared to the same period last year, there was also a 16 per cent increase in capacity, and more than half of all gross electricity consumption in Scotland continues to come from renewables.

“Scotland’s total installed renewable capacity, that’s the amount of renewable electricity we are capable of producing, now stands at 9.3 GW – four times what it was only a decade ago. These statistics reinforce our country’s reputation as a renewable energy powerhouse and are a vindication of the Scottish government’s energy policy.”

The new offshore venture mentioned above along with the last of the new onshore wind projects should bring Scotland’s renewable capacity up to 10Gw in 2017. For a small country this a great achievement and places us above many other European countries of a similar size. However when you compare us to the Scandinavian countries of Denmark, Norway, and Sweden we lag behind  – in the cases of Norway and Sweden by multiple factors.

Both Norway and Sweden have considerable hydro-power networks compared to Scotland which does offer some explanation however Denmark comfortably beats us on wind power capacity as does Sweden. Considering Scotland is officially the windiest country in Europe this simply is not good enough.

A lack of government subsidies has meant the onshore wind capacity is unlikely to make any great gains in the future unless a change in policy is brought about. With new evidence suggesting that the cost of wind power is now low enough to maintain a new lower level of subsidy we hope that a shift in policy to support new developments is not too far away.

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