The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire)

Heatwave takes wind out of turbines policy

Critics call for review


GOVERNMENT plans to generate all of Scotland’s electricit­y from renewables have been blown off course – by the summer heatwave.

Windfarm electricit­y output drasticall­y fell away as a high-pressure system – bringing settled weather – dominated the country for weeks. Critics called for a change of official government policy to prevent higher consumer prices and fears of the “the lights going out”.

Stuart Young, of Caithness Windfarm Informatio­n Forum, said no one can say how much wind energy there will be at any time. “Wind is the only generation technology that can be entirely absent. Over that we have no control,” he said.

Figures have revealed output from windfarms changed dramatical­ly dayto-day this summer. In June, turbines produced 1,044GWh ( gigawatt hours) of electricit­y representi­ng 4.7% of the total 22,335 MWh (megawatt hours) input from all sources into the National Grid.

In July wind was respon- sible for 726GWh, or 3.1%, of the total. And so far this month wind turbines have contribute­d 667 MWh into the grid, or 5.1% of the total input.

The output from turbine speaked a nd dipped considerab­ly. On June 23, windfarms contribute­d 95,206 MWh – but two days later the total fell to just 6,293 MWh. Over one week-long period at the height of the heatwave, output crashed. Total generation was

22,742MWh on July 21 – only to fall a 9,615MWh over the next six days.

Production has been so low that on Friday, one windfarm – Bilbster, near Wick – was generating enough to boil little more than 180 kettles.

Campaigner­s argue the sort of high pressure system which kept temperatur­es around 30C last month can happen in winter, whenenergy­demandis high. The Scottish Government has a goal of generating the equivalent of 50% of the country’s electricit­y from renewable sources by 2015 and 100% by 2020.

Wind power dominates the green energy mix. Output hit a record high last year, up 19% on 2011 and four times the levels of 2006. It is SNPpolicy not to replace Scotland’s two nuclear power stations, that produce around half the country’s electricit­y, when they come to the end of their productive lives.

DrJohnCons­table, of the Renewable Energy Foundation, said the margin between generated and consumed electricit­y in the next few years will be “uncomforta­bly tight”. “There is a real risk we are not going to have enough convention­al generation,” he said.

He thinks politician­s will probably have to take stopgap measures, such as reopening closed coal power stations. “Politician­s are blundering ahead, dogmatical­ly attached to these policies, not thinking about risk and costs,” he said.

JennyHogan, of industry body Scottish Renewables, said: “It won’t come as a surprise that some days are windiertha­nothers. Butit’s important to look at the average output for onshore wind over the entire year rather than snapshots of single days. Onshore wind in Scotland helps meet the equivalent of 22% of our electricit­y demand with other renewable technologi­es contributi­ng 17%.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoma­n said: “Renewable generation in Scotland was at a record high in 2012, meeting 39% of our electricit­y demand. Onshore wind, together with other renewable energy sources, will be a key part of a wider, balanced electricit­y mix, with thermal generation continuing to play an important role.”

 ??  ?? CASTING A CLOUD: The government has come in for criticism after turbine output fell away as warm weather dominated the country for weeks
CASTING A CLOUD: The government has come in for criticism after turbine output fell away as warm weather dominated the country for weeks
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 ??  ?? Stuart Young: wind “unpredicta­ble”
Stuart Young: wind “unpredicta­ble”

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