Scotland’s Onshore Wind Threat

Scotland’s Onshore Wind Threat

Scottish Power has this week warned that without government support that onshore wind generation in Scotland will come to a standstill. They state that no new support framework has been created for onshore wind when the current subsidies end in April 2017.

Under the current Renewables Obligation scheme – which ends in 2017 – electricity suppliers get a subsidy for providing a proportion of the electricity they supply from renewable sources which in turn is funded by costs added to household fuel bills.

With this due to end Scottish Power Renewables has called for a new scheme of Contracts for Difference to be offered so some level of investment security can be added to future projects.

However the UK government has countered by saying their position remains unchanged and that a commitment was made at the General Election to end onshore wind subsidies. Keith Anderson CEO of Scottish Power Renewables however said that the support he required was not a subsidy.

Speaking to BBC Scotland he said “What we are asking for onshore wind is a level playing field.

“There’s a new mechanism in place for offshore wind, called contracts for difference. For gas investment the government have created a capacity mechanism.

“We’re asking for a contract to help underpin some of the risk of making these big, long term investments. We’re not asking for a subsidy.”

Scottish Power will have installed 221 turbines in the year to March 2017 bringing their total generation output to 2GW employing thousands in construction jobs and other support roles.

Also the Scottish Government has set a target of 100% of electricity generation via renewables by 2020. Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse said “We’ve made great progress. We’ve achieved 56% of that figure by 2015, which was ahead of schedule, but we’re now seeing changes since the 2015 UK general election where the UK government is derailing potentially a very important industry, not just in Scotland but other parts of the UK as well and that’s of great concerns to us.”

There are some that support the UK government’s policy stance include campaign group Scotland Against Spin. Spokeswoman Linda Holt said: “I think we’re saturated. You talk to people who live in the countryside who are surrounded by wind farms; they think we’ve got enough turbines.

“We’re already producing too much wind electricity in Scotland for us to be able to use ourselves so it’s either being exported or when it’s windy it’s being constrained off.”

Lindsay Roberts, from the industry body Scottish Renewables, said “Onshore wind is already one the cheapest and most popular forms of power generation. However the UK government has locked future development out of the energy market.

“Their own advisors say if we are to stand any chance of meeting our climate change targets we need to at least double our renewable energy capacity. So it’s vital that the UK government tells us what the future of onshore wind is going to be and that they allow it to compete in that energy market.”

A UK government spokesman said “We are fully committed to providing secure, affordable and clean energy for the UK’s homes and businesses.

“The renewables industry has been a strong success in Scotland thanks to UK Government support. Last year we invested a record £13bn in renewables across the UK, with Scotland continuing to benefit significantly from that support.”

It will not surprise you to learn that we at ILI Energy are pro-onshore wind however not to the detriment of the environment. Therefore we can understand those that feel that there are too many and in some areas they are right. Our belief however that is there are areas in which turbine installation can continue, increasing renewable generation.

The point regarding us producing too much for ourselves is an interesting one as this is seldom the case but when it does happen it does so at periods of low demand. The solution to this is to create a reliable energy storage network where renewable energy surplus produced during of period of low demand can be safely stored and put back into the grid during high demand peaks.

This however is not a case of simply attaching a few batteries to the grid, the amount of power we are talking about require solutions on an industrial solution. There are though potential remedies out there including industrial batteries, flywheels, compressed air, pumped hydro, plus others.

All have advantages and disadvantages but in most cases the technology is advancing and becoming more efficient. With a number of large industrial sized energy storage facilities the amount of wastage from wind turbines would decrease dramatically. In turn this will increase our renewable energy usage and bring us closer to our targets.

It will also mean in the long term that although some more turbines will be required not as many as if we were generating without storing.

Renewable energy is the future and marrying it with effective energy storage is the best way to reduce our carbon emissions, meet our targets and create a safe clean environment to live in.

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