Don’t tell Donald Trump but in Scotland, the tartan-clad land where renewable energy installations also serve as major tourist attractions, enough energy is generated at on- and offshore wind farms to power all of the country’s homes and then some.
Using data culled from WeatherEnergy, the World Wildlife Fund's Scottish arm recently published impressive findings that prove wind power is making a huge impact, no matter how controversial and hated-on wind turbines are in some communities. During the “bumper month” of October, the country’s wind turbines collectively generated enough juice —982,842 megawatt hours (MWh) — to power 3,045,000 homes. This is about 126 percent of the electricity needs for Scottish households.
Looking at the United Kingdom as a whole, wind turbines generated enough energy to provide the electricity needs for a staggering 28 percent of households in the U.K. Currently, a quarter of Europe's offshore wind resources are located in Scotland with realized farms including the massive (60 turbines with a capacity of 180 megawatts) Robin Rigg Wind Farm at Solway Firth near the Scottish and English border. The largest onshore wind farm in the U.K., the 215 turbine-strong Whitelee Wind Farm, is located just outside of Scotland's largest city, Glasgow. Whitelee Wind Farm alone has a total capacity of 539MW — enough power to provide electricity to just under 300,000 homes.
In fact, it was recently reported that the country's wealth of wind turbines, accused of marring the pristine Scottish countryside by detractors, generate too much juice for the National Grid to handle. Many wind farms have been issued "constraint payments" — £43 million in these payments have been issued so far in 2014 —to deactivate turbines so that the natural supply-demand balance isn’t further thrown off.
According to WWF Scotland, solar power didn’t perform too shabbily in October either despite Scotland’s reputation for having perpetually dreary skies: Rooftop PV panels provided 46 percent of the electricity needs for Edinburgh homeowners who have invested in residential solar installations. That number drops a bit for solar-equipped homes in Iverness (38 percent), Glasgow (37 percent) and Aberdeen (33 percent). Solar thermal also performed well, providing solar hot water panel-fitted homes in the above cities with over a quarter of their respective household hot water needs.
Says Lang Banks, director of WWF Scotland in a statement:
While nuclear power plants were being forced to shut because of cracks, Scotland’s wind and sunshine were quietly and cleanly helping to keep the lights on in homes across the country. With wind power generating enough electricity to power 126% of the needs of every home in Scotland, it really was a bumper month for renewables in Scotland.
The science is clear, if we are to prevent the worst impacts of global climate change, then the world needs to move away from fossil fuels. The good news is that here in Scotland we’re making good use of wind power to create clean electricity. However, if Scotland is going to meet its future climate change targets, then we need to see greater support for energy efficiency and renewable heat, as well as action to curb emissions from transport.
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