Wind power has become the prime source of renewable energy production in Scotland
Wind power has become the prime source of renewable energy production in Scotland. The first six months of 2019 saw wind farm energy production reach record highs. Enough energy was generated to power 4.47 million homes, equating to every home in Scotland and part of the north of England. This high level of production is a continuation from 2018. November was the first month when wind power output surpassed 2,176,000Mwh, enough energy to meet 109% of the nation’s monthly electricity demand. Electricity generation exceeded 100% domestic demand marker on 28 out of 30 days in November, with an excess of energy production on 20 of these days. These high levels of production mean that wind power has become a staple of Scottish energy production as in 2017 alone renewables made up over half of electricity generation in Scotland.
Growth in wind power production has also helped to reduce Scotland’s greenhouse emissions by 25% in the last eight years. In 2016 wind power contributed to renewable energy generation displacing approximately 9,400,000 tonnes of CO2, approximately 21% of Scotaland’s carbon emissions in 2015. These reductions can also be seen on a community level. A recent study explored how green hydrogen created through wind power could replace marine oil on established Caledonian Macbrayne ferry routes. By replacing the emission-heavy marine oil with the 15 turbines necessary to power the route between Ullapool and Stornoway, 21,000 tonnes of CO2 would be saved per year, equivalent to removing over 4,700 cars from the road.
Although wind power is the fastest growing energy sector in Scotland, onshore wind farms still attract criticism, often cited as eyesores, detrimental to property prices. However, a recent study performed by the Policy group ClimateXChange in 2016 found that there was ‘no evidence of a consistent negative effect on house prices’. Turbines tend to have even less effect on prices in the north of Scotland as it is less populated meaning land is cheaper and developments can be built further from populated areas.
Wind power production is also a lucrative means of income for communities. After raising £452,000 a community in North Uist plans to build two 900kw turbines, which will more than repay their price, as it is estimated that more than £2million will be raised over the projects lifetime. However, the lucrative nature of wind power production has led to a scramble for land, pitting large companies against small townships. In 2016 4 hebridean communities challenged the land rights of Lewis Wind Power (a consortium of EDF), to develop turbines on common land. Ultimately the township lost the battle demonstrating how the land needs and cost incentives of turbines is creating tension between business and communities.
Wind power developers have also been attempting in recent years to mitigate the issue of intermittent power generation. In June 2019 Scottish power began developing an industrial-scale battery in Whitelee onshore wind farm. This battery would capture power from 215 turbines, creating a 50MW battery system, providing double the power capacity of any other battery currently operating in the UK. Enough electricity will be released in an hour to charge 806 Nissian leaf vehicles. The battery would also be able to combat overproduction by charging overnight when power demand is low, meaning there is plenty of stored power available in the morning when energy demands begin to rise. Furthermore the battery would release short bursts of power to even out second by second fluctuation in energy generation, further combating intermittent power production.