Scotland’s renewable revolution sets shining example for Lima

National governments present at the Lima climate talks are being urged to "follow Scotland's lead" on wind power as new figures reveal a surge in generation last month.

The figures, released today (8 December) by WWF Scotland, reveal that wind turbines generated approximately 812,890MWh of electricity to the National Grid in November, meeting the electricity demands of 107% of Scottish households.

This is almost five times higher than the relative equivilant wind power generated in the rest of the UK during the same month – the 1,902,665MWh of generated wind power met the energy demand of just 22% of UK households. 

WWF Scotland’s figures also show that maximum output was 55,611MWh, enough to supply 221% of homes, on 11 November and minimum output was on 15 November, when 7,838MWh was generated – enough to supply 31% of homes. Wind generated enough to supply 100% or more of homes in Scotland on 11 out of 30 days in November. 

Global action

Speaking from the climate summit in Lima, WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “While Torness nuclear power station had to be shutdown unexpectedly, November turned out to be another big month for wind power in Scotland, with enough pollution-free electricity generated to supply 107% of Scottish households with the electricity they need.

“Even on calmer days, when wind wasn’t at its strongest, wind still supplied the equivalent of almost a third of electricity needs of every home. It’s clear that wind is now a critical and growing part of our current power sector.

“I’m currently at the UN climate talks spreading the word about Scotland’s world leading climate targets and the rapid progress we’re making on renewables.

“I hope that news of November’s renewable output, alongside news that renewables are now the largest source of electricity in Scotland, will help inspire other countries to follow our lead, embrace the clear opportunities clean energy provides and secure progress for global action on climate.”

Commenting on WWF’s wind power figures, Scotland’s Environment and Climate Change Minister Aileen McLeod said: “Scotland’s renewable energy targets are amongst the most ambitious in the world and we are punching above our weight in the international effort to tackle climate change.

“For example, we generated 46.6% equivalent of Scotland’s gross electricity production from renewables in 2013 and we are making excellent progress towards meeting our target of the equivalent of 100% of gross annual electricity demand from renewables by 2020.

“This is just one of the ways in which Scotland is working to meet our world-leading climate change ambitions which I will be urging the international community to match when I am at the UN climate talks in Lima this week.”

Efficient transmission 

In other wind power news, researchers at Cardiff University, in association with Leuven University in Belgium, are working on developing a ‘super grid’ so that power generated by offshore wind farms can be shared across Europe.

The MEDOW (multi-terminal DC grid for offshore wind) project is a Marie Curie Initial Training Network funded by the European Commission working to develop a direct current or ‘DC’ grid – an efficient way of transmitting and sharing power to reinforce reliability and help balance power supply and demand.

“Wind power is a source of clean, renewable electricity,” said Nick Jenkins, leader at the Cardiff School of Engineering. “We need to make more of it to become less reliant on expensive imported fossil fuels. In 2012, more than half of the energy that the EU consumed was imported from outside the Union.

“New wind farms are likely to be placed offshore, where wind speeds are higher and turbines less intrusive. As offshore wind power is generated a long way from where it is used, we need to find better ways of transporting the power to the onshore grid.

“Increasing our use of wind power will also support the future electrification of heating and transport, which could make a big difference to carbon emissions and reliance on fuel imports. Energy affects nearly every aspect of our lives and so finding ways of ensuring a cleaner, affordable and more secure energy supply is not an ideal: it’s essential.”

The project is also helping to train early career researchers and create a pool of expertise from academia, research institutes, manufacturers, and operators developing DC grids.

In October, analysis by Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) and Greenpeace International revealed that global wind-generated energy could supply up to 20% of the world’s electricity by 2030.

However, in November, RenewableUK suggested that political instability and unwanted intervention is becoming ‘increasingly prohibitive’ and may damage future growth, in its 2014 State of the Industry Report

Lois Vallely

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