The Future for Wind Power

The Future for Wind Power

Scotland’s wind farms set a new record last month as output soared to its highest level ever and overall generation increased by 83% compared May 2014.

Analysis by WWF Scotland of the country’s wind and solar data for the month of May provided by WeatherEnergy found that Scotland’s wind turbines produced 924,405MWh of electricity which was exported to the grid. On average this is enough to supply 101% of Scotland’s 2.4million household’s electricity demand. This is an increase of 83% on the 504.820MWh produced in May 2014.

The analysis also revealed that wind turbines generated enough energy to supply 100% of more of Scotland’s households on 14 of the 31 days in the month. In addition, 47% of Scotland’s total electricity consumption (residential and business) came from wind turbines.

WWF also looked at the solar figures and confirmed that there was enough sunshine in May to generate approximately 110% of the average household electricity consumption in Edinburgh, 108% in Aberdeen, 102% in Inverness, and 96% in Glasgow. Also for those homes with solar hot water panels there was enough sunshine throughout May in all four cities to generate 100% of the average household hot water requirements.

The news of this new wind generation record comes at a time when the UK government is planning to meet its manifesto pledge to halt new subsidies for all onshore wind turbines and the Scottish government and environmental groups are attempting to dissuade them from doing so in particular in Scotland.

Recently Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing wrote to the UK Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd to advise caution regarding the halting of the onshore wind subsidies, as this would have a major negative impact on the industry, as well as seeking confirmation that the Scottish Government will be consulted on this policy reform as previously promised by the Prime Minister.

The announcement from the UK Government is expected shortly however industry experts have already advised that the controversial policy may start a wave of legal action if the government’s attempts to alter the subsidy and its rules retroactively or if it attempts to exclude onshore wind instillations from support contracts approved and awarded under EU State Aid rules.

Speaking of the analysis and the governments impending policy change Lang Banks, director of WWF Scotland said “Strong winds throughout the month helped to make it a record-breaking May for wind power output, with enough clean energy generated to supply the needs of 101% of Scottish households equivalent to 47% of Scotland’s entire electricity demand from homes, businesses and industry for the month.

“Even better, output was up a staggering 83% compared to the same period last year, keeping us on track to have another record-breaking year for wind power.

“However, despite the fact that onshore wind power is clearly working, the continued development of this clean energy technology in Scotland is at risk as a result of UK plans to end support for the industry earlier than planned. Cutting support now for the lowest cost renewable technology would be a backwards step that will either see consumer bills rise or our climate targets missed.

“Opinion polls consistently show onshore wind to be one of the most popular forms of electricity, which helps sustain thousands of jobs while helping to cut carbon emissions. We encourage the Scottish Government to continue to support the development of onshore wind in Scotland and press UK Ministers to think again on its plans to cut support.”

On solar power, Banks added: “When wind output is high it usually means solar output can be expected to be lower. However, during May, for tens of thousands of homes that have installed solar panels to generate electricity or heat water, almost all of their electricity or hot water needs could have been met by the sun, helping to reduce reliance on polluting fossil fuels.

“Last month might not have been the sunniest, but the data confirms that at this time of year days of endless sunshine are not needed for good solar generation, as increased daylight hours helped to compensate.”

ILI Renewable Energy (ILI) also backed the Scottish government’s call for consultation prior to the announcement of any decision on wind energy subsidies that will have a negative impact on Scotland.

Mark Wilson from ILI said “The UK Government’s proposal is environmental madness. Many projects still rely on this subsidy for their economic viability and confidence in the future of the subsidy is required to attract inward investment.

“Removing these subsidies now will have a devastating effect on Scotland’s ability to achieve its goal of 100% renewal energy by 2020, as well as UK wide targets that rely on the contribution that Scotland can make. As far as I can see the only objection the UK Government has is purely aesthetic.

“A vocal minority simply don’t like the look of wind turbines but everything about onshore wind makes sense – it’s clean, flexible, environmentally-friendly. The subsidy works. As the environmental charity WWF Scotland has said removing the subsidy could risk undermining the development of the cheapest form of renewable energy.”

Mark added “Everyone knows that investment requires a level of certainty. I hope UK Government does not renege on their commitment to consult with Scotland’s renewable energy industry on this important ecological and economic issue.”

The UK in general and Scotland in particular has built up a strong and robust wind energy sector providing cleanly generated electricity to many millions of households and business throughout the country. It provides numerous types of jobs to over 100,000 people and is the main source for reducing our carbon emissions, something we are legally obliged to do. Also, it has been previously demonstrated that wind energy has the support of the British people.

When asked why they pledged to end the subsidies the government cited negative public opinion for wind turbines however as shown above this has since been debunked. With the positives detailed above it would be illogical to set back a growing industry which provides jobs, tax income, and clean energy to the nation. It is our hope that the government change tact and come to agree with us.

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