Rural Scotland supports new onshore wind developments

Rural Scotland supports new onshore wind developments

In the wake of the publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Report last week the focus on what can be done to remedy  the situation has intensified. Carbon emissions must be reduced – and even reversed – on both macro and micro levels with everybody contributing, from governments to corporations to individuals.

The best place to start is with our energy generation with carbon intense fossil fuels still producing vast amounts of energy and in turn adding vast amounts of carbon to our atmosphere.

Over the past 25 years the move to renewable energy generation has increased with a particular sharp rise in the past ten years which has led the UK to be able to generate approximately 25% of its electricity demand via renewable low carbon sources.

However, things could be – and should be – better, much better. Scotland has an abundance of renewable sources and in particular, is the windiest country in Europe however we lag significantly behind our European neighbours when it comes to generating electricity via wind turbines.

In 2015 the new UK Government vastly reduced all subsidies for new onshore wind development, with all support due to end in April 2019, bringing to a halt a blossoming industry which was well on its way to having the capacity to generate 50% of our electricity.

A number of reasons were given at the time including cost, intermittency, and low public approval, particularly in areas where turbines are situated. Since then however the cost of onshore wind developments has reduced dramatically and intermittency issues can be resolved using modern storage methods including pump storage hydro and industrial batteries.

This week the results of an independent survey carried out by Survation and commissioned by Scottish Renewables showed that those living in rural Scotland – and most likely to find themselves living close to renewable developments – were generally in favour of the use of onshore wind with 66% supporting it, 22% saying they have no opinion or don’t know and only 11% opposed to new onshore wind farms.

It wasn’t just onshore wind that got the rural seal of approval with solar power (83% support), wave and tidal energy (83% support), offshore wind energy (78% support) and biomass (69% support) all receiving support well above 50%.

Contrasting that, support for building new fossil fuel (coal, gas or oil) power stations or extending the life of existing garnered only 42% with fracking at just 31%.

Jenny Hogan, Deputy Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables said: “This latest poll was focussed, for the first time ever, on discovering what Scots in rural areas think about renewables like wind and solar power.

“The nature of Scotland’s renewable energy resource – our wind, tides, forestry and even our long summer evenings, among others – means many renewable energy developments take place in rural areas, providing jobs and economic opportunities which otherwise may not have existed.

“This independent polling shows that not only do rural Scots support the development of renewables, but that their opposition to policies which promote extracting and burning fossil fuels is unmistakeable.

“The fact is that the continued deployment of clean power technologies like wind, solar and biomass is backed by the very people who will benefit most tangibly from these developments.”

Gina Hanrahan, WWF Head of Policy, said: “Not only is onshore wind the cheapest form of new energy, this poll shows it’s also one of the most popular, alongside solar, wave and tidal.

“Just last week, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change sent a clarion call to all nations to act urgently and decisively to bring emissions down, and embracing renewables is one of the best ways of doing this.

“This poll is just another nail in the coffin for the myth that renewables are unpopular, and instead shows that people recognise the economic, social and environmental benefits harnessing our renewable potential can bring to Scotland’s rural areas.”

It comes as no surprise to us at ILI Energy that onshore wind remains popular with rural Scots. We developed a number of onshore wind turbines in various rural areas throughout the country and the response was mainly positive.

Locals could see the economic benefits such developments brought to their area and were onboard with the environmental benefits they brought everyone.

In 2018 there is no reason not to re-establish the onshore wind industry with the introduction of new developments throughout the country. It is the least expensive form of new build power generation, excess energy can be stored for use at peak times, and it has widespread public approval.

The Climate Change report released last week was unequivocal, we must reduce our carbon emissions dramatically and immediately. New onshore wind developments isn’t the answer on its own but it could be, with the right backing, one of the biggest contributors to achieving carbon neutrality.


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