Clean Power Scotland

Published on November 5th, 2014 | by Joshua S Hill

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Scotland’s Renewable Sector Generated Over 100% of Residential Electricity Needs In October

November 5th, 2014 by  

The Scottish renewable energy sector is one of the world’s best performing, and new data from WeatherEnergy has shown that October was a “bumper month” for the country, generating more than enough electricity from renewable sources to power the country.

The figures were published by WWF Scotland on Tuesday, based on figures provided by WeatherEnergy, an organisation part of the European EnergizAIR project.

Solar energy production was the secondary winner in October, generating an estimated 46% of an average home’s energy needs in Edinburgh, 38% in Inverness, 37% in Glasgow, and 33% in Aberdeen. While those houses fitted with solar hot water panels generated enough energy to meet approximately 41% of the hot water needs of an average home in Edinburgh, 31% in Inverness, 30% in Glasgow, and 27% in Aberdeen.

However, the real winner was wind generation, which generated a phenomenal 126% of the electricity needs of every home in Scotland!

Scotland

 

“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,” said WWF Scotland’s director, Lang Banks. “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 figures show that wind turbines generated a whopping 982,842 MWh of electricity, which is enough to power well over 3 million homes in the UK.

“Summer may be a distant memory, but for the tens of thousands of Scottish households that have installed solar panels to generate electricity or heat water, a third or more of their needs were met from the sun this October, helping reduce their reliance on coal, gas, or even oil,” Lang added.

Business As Usual

The news comes on the heels of regular good news for the Scottish renewable energy industry. Following the failed independence referendum vote — which many analysts believed would have been a devastating move for the country’s renewable energy industry — Scotland has quietly been making some big headlines.

In September, a Scottish Renewables report showed that the Scottish wave and tidal energy sector had invested more than £217 million, with £31.8 million spent over the past 12 months alone, and an expected target of £50 billion by 2050.

A week and a half after the referendum vote, the Scottish Government approved the Middle Muir wind farm project, a 60 MW project located near in South Lanarkshire. And while small, at the time it represented a “business as usual” status for the industry after such a momentous occasion.

And just last month, the Scottish Government gave the green light to four new offshore wind energy projects. Together, the four projects represent approximately 2.2 GW of new offshore wind energy capacity. They are: the Neart Na Gaoithe project being developed by Mainstream Renewable Energy; the Inch Cape project being developed by Repsol Nuevas Energias UK and EDPR; and the Seagreen Alpha and Seagreen Bravo projects being developed by SSE and Fluor.

The Quiet Growth Industry

There have been several countries making headlines lately due to their impressive growth over the past few years. However, Scotland has seen steady and continual growth for the past eight years — a growth that has no intention of stopping.

Scotland4

According to figures provided by Scottish Renewables, Scottish renewable energy capacity has grown at an average of 660 MW per year since the end of 2007.

Unsurprisingly, given the locale and technological prowess of the country, wind is a big factor in the country’s energy mix. Totalling over 7 GW, the sector has more than doubled since the end of 2007, thanks to big pushes by wind and hydro.

Scotland3

On top of that, there is a phenomenal pipeline of renewable projects currently in development or awaiting construction, totalling over 13 GW.

The primary drivers are, again, wind, with massive amounts of onshore wind either in planning, awaiting construction, or in construction.

Scotland2

By the end of 2013, renewable electricity output had more than doubled from 8,215 GWh in 2007 to 16,974 GWh in 2013. In 2013, renewable energy accounted for 46.4% of total energy consumption — a figure that we know is already increasing. At the same time, gross consumption is down over the 2007–2013 period, which is helping renewable energy meet more and more of the country’s energy needs.

In the end, renewable energy is still a growing market and has a lot of work to do to compete with the existing nuclear infrastructure, but as Lang Banks said, the new technologies are competing. With so much in the renewable energy pipeline, figures for the end of 2015 are going to be highly anticipated.

Image Credit: Lang Banks, WWF, via Twitter

Charts courtesy of Scottish Renewables

 
 
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About the Author

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (.co.uk), and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at about.me for more.



  • Andrew H Mackay

    Yes, and all of the above relies on fossil fuels to fill the gap – 30MW battery – we need 60GW batteries and then some! I did not say that electrical storage did not exist but it would be better for all if 60GW of renewable electricity was delivered 24-7-52 to meet demand ie base load and or load following.

    Norway’s generation portfolio is 98% hydro so presumably they import fossil generated electricity from Euro-grid to pump the water back up the hill – wind power is a joke and the electricity it does generate is wrong time and random and has made zero impact on stopping the burning of fossil fuels anywhere in the world – I am not aware of any thermal power stations closing down – because of wind power – this is because we NEED firm power all the time.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Andrew, I showed you how as renewables (mostly wind and solar) have increased in the US our use of fossil fuels has dropped. Your claim that wind is a joke has been disclaimed.

      Please quit making foolish statements.

      • Andrew H Mackay

        Your use of fossil fuels has actually risen – fracked shale gas is a fossil fuel too!

        • Bob_Wallace

          No, Andrew.

          Natural gas/fracked shale gas is included in the black line – “Fossil Fuel”. The legend does not say “coal”.

          • Andrew H Mackay

            A tiny decrease in fossil fuel consumption of a few percentage points WOW well, that is really going to save our planet – not. This slight fall is down to the the downturn in the US economy – nothing else!

            So what happens when there is no more recoverable fossil fuels left to burn – do we carry on with intermittent junk electricity subject to the vagaries of weather and tide?

          • Bob_Wallace

            If renewables (new generation) went up and fossil fuel use (burning stuff in existing plants) went down then this “slight fall down” is obviously not due to the downturn in the US economy.

            You really need to put more effort into thinking before posting, Andrew.

            Andrew, change generally happens slowly at first and builds momentum. I’ll show you a picture.

          • Andrew H Mackay

            Let’s stick with the car analogy, You are driving at 100mph in 2008 (zero on x-axis) and you drop your speed by 5mph(aka%) over the next 6 miles (aka2014) – this can hardly be described as STOPPING!
            You still haven’t answer my question! YES or No?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Tell you what, Andrew. Let’s not.

            I’ve put far more energy into you than you deserve.

          • Andrew H Mackay

            That’s ok – it was a rhetorical question anyway – and I note that you could not ‘man up’ to answer it honestly and threw in the towel.

            Dream on in your wee world of make believe and bewilderment at the English language and that intermittent junk electricity is a figment of my imagination –

  • Bob_Wallace

    Yes, let’s look at what was happening at that point in time on the UK grid. Demand was being met by 31% coal, 12% nuclear, 35% CCNG, and 4% wind along with some hydro, pumped-hydro storage, and imports from France and the Netherlands. (Along with some other odds and ends.)

    Now how you get from there to ” the generation of junk electricity from renewables never alters the amount of fossil fuel generation by one iota” is one incredible feat of illogicality. Obviously if one eliminates the 4% wind input it has to be made up from somewhere else. Probably burning more natural gas or coal.

    What kind of storage? Well, you’ve already shown us that pump-up storage is one solution. At the moment it is our least expensive way to bring large scale storage to the grid. But it looks like there will be one or more cheaper ways. Vanadium redox flow batteries are the leading candidate as they are now available. Liquid metal batteries are another possible solution, they are being tested and are expected to go into manufacture in the next year or so.

    As for “Cruachan running at full bore would run out of water in under 24 hours” that’s another logic fail. Obviously one would need more than one single PuHS site to power the UK grid. You don’t run the UK grid of a single coal plant, do you?

    “The solution is to convert renewable energy into firm power deliverable 24-7-52 ie at all the right times” – I do agree with that statement. And here’s how that grid works –

    We use solar when the Sun shines.

    We use wind when the wind blows.

    We use geothermal 24/7.

    We use tidal in between slack tides.

    We generate extra energy when the Sun is shining and the wind is blowing and store that away.

    When demand exceeds what is currently available from wind, solar, tidal and geothermal we pull some of that stored energy back out and convert it to electricity.

    We also fill in the low spots with hydro and biofuels.

    Understand? Supply matched to demand 24/365.

    Now it will take us a lot of years to build the new grid and get fossil fuels totally shut down. In the sort term we’ll continue to use some coal as we install more renewables. We’ll use natural gas as our major fill in as we install storage. The move from a fossil fuel grid to a renewable grid will be a gradual process, but that’s where we do seem to be headed.

    • Bob_Wallace

      When I made the above post UK demand was being covered by 31% coal, 12% nuclear, 35% CCNG, and 4% wind along with some other stuff.

      Now 3 hours later demand is being met with 36% coal, 15% nuclear, 26% CCNG and 10% wind and the other stuff. Wind is up, CCNG is down.

      See how it works?

      • Andrew H Mackay

        Yep, you confirming that ALL of the above is reliant on fossil fuels providing back up by being present in the background – did you get the bit about induction generators relying 100% on this back ground fossil generation so that they can induce clean uncorrupted synchronous electricity. Like I said renewables are merely SLOWING down the burn rates by a few hours at best and will continue to do so until there is nothing left to burn – your suggestion that this will STOP the burning of fossil fuels does not hold water. Given a plethora of random generation pulses from all sources you are ALWAYS going get ‘coincident nulls’ with fossil fuels filling the gaps.

        I have a question for you. Given the choice between firm secure renewable electricity delivered 24-7-52 that does not require ANY fossil fuelled generation and intermittent junk electricity that requires 400 ‘Cruachans’ and Amazonian rainfall to provide storage for a year – which would you choose?

        • Bob_Wallace

          Yes, wind and solar need fossil fuel fill-in at this point in time. No one (with a quarter of a brain) would deny that.

          I don’t really understand your use of “slowing” in this statement –

          “renewables are merely SLOWING down the burn rates by a few hours at best and will continue to do so until there is nothing left to burn”

          Renewables are reducing the use of fossil fuels when they are generating. The way you use “slowing” is seems that you are saying that if we use 50% as much fuel from 10 am to 4 pm because solar is giving us half our demand then we’ll have to burn 150% as much from 4 pm to 10 pm. We don’t create a deficit which must be repaid.

          It will take many years to build enough renewable generation and storage to allow us to quit burning fossil fuels.

          As for your last question – it’s gibberish. I have no idea what junk electricity might be. And I know that creating enough hydro to fill in between renewables is not feasible.

          • Andrew H Mackay

            There is a big difference in the words slowing down and reducing the use of fossil fuels. Let me make a simple example to demonstrate the difference.

            If you had a coal fired stove at home which provided all of your domestic hot water and central heating so you buy 30 bags of the black stuff to do you for as long as possible.

            Now to ‘reduce’ how much coal you burn you supplement it by burning ‘biomass’ aka logs or solar thermal panels on the roof. Despite this frugality you will end up burning all 30 bags of coal over time so you have not STOPPED burning coal you have delayed burning it all by a few days.

            So, like I said the coal that is presently sitting at all the coal fired power stations will eventually be burned to the detriment of our planet on which we and future generations depend.

            Do you now understand the difference between slowing down the burn rates and stopping burning coal altogether?

            I have at least addressed this problem by inventing a renewable energy system that will deliver electricity 24-7-52 without burning anything at all. No doubt there will be the usual kneejerk carping about it by people reading this before they take the trouble to actually understand how it works.

          • Bob_Wallace

            Let’s see if I can make some simple statements that you can follow Andrew…

            Renewables are reducing the amount of fossil fuels we are using.

            Renewables are slowing our rate of burning fossil fuels. We are burning less fossil fuels over time which is how we define the speed of burning.

            Renewables have not stopped the use of fossil fuels.

            Renewables are on track to stop, or mostly stop, the use of fossil fuels.

            When fossil fuels produce 100% or almost 100% of the electricity used there will still be some fossil fuel left in the ground. It is almost certain that humans will never extract every single molecule of petroleum, methane or coal.

          • Andrew H Mackay

            Obviously you did not understand my example – renewables are not stopping the use of fossil fuels merely slowing down the rate at which they are being consumed. You did not answer my question – do you prefer intermittent random electricity over firm secure electricity delivered 24-7-52?

            A simple yes or no will do.

            BTW what does ‘mostly stop’ mean?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Andrew, you seem to be having problems with word meaning.

            “Slowing down”, in this case, means the same as “are stopping”. Think about it in terms of approaching a stop sign, one which you do not intend to run.

            My preference is that we shut down as much fossil fuel generation as possible as quickly as possible.

            “Mostly stop” means that it may not be feasible to eliminate 100% of all fossil fuels. Right now, based on the storage technology we have, it would be very expensive to move to 100% renewables. A study by Budischak, et al. found that the best solution was to use a very small amount of NG generation (about seven hours a year).

            https://docs.google.com/file/d/1NrBZJejkUTRYJv5YE__kBFuecdDL2pDTvKLyBjfCPr_8yR7eCTDhLGm8oEPo/edit

          • MrL0g1c

            In the UK it is very feasible to go 100% renewable, we just need to invest in tidal lagoons, geothermal and large scale energy storage, Scotland already has plenty of hydro-power.

            On-demand renewables and storage should be used to replace coal, gas and nuclear.

  • Andrew H Mackay

    What a load of rubbish – renewables like wind, waves and tidal generate the wrong kind of electricity at usually all the wrong times. None of this stops the burning of fossil fuels to keep the lights on because it is not delivered as capacity. Despite all of these worthless machines littering our hillsides our carbon footprint has risen in direct proportion to our consumption. If you turned off all the wind turbines for a year they would not be missed.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Gosh, what a wonderful world you live in, Andrew. One in which you can simply make up the facts you like and discard the facts the real world produces.

      • Andrew H Mackay

        OK then explain to me why random junk electricity STOPS the burning of fossil fuels as opposed to DELAYING the burning of the same amount of fossil fuels by a day or two at best! You are a victim of excellent propoganda – and you do not even know it – carry on being deluded – as if I care!

        • Bob_Wallace

          Let’s set up a very simple grid. At first it will be supplied by nothing but a diesel generator. (Plenty of these grids exist around the world.)

          And let’s assume it can produce 1 MW of power. That means that we have to purchase enough diesel to keep that generator running 24/365. The generator burns X gallons of fuel each hour.

          Now let’s bring in a MW of solar. The solar panels will operate, on average, five hours a day. During those five hours no diesel will be needed. That’s a savings of 5 * 365 * X gallons of diesel a year.

          There’s no delaying of burning fuel. There’s a replacement of expensive fuel with free sunshine. Over time the fuel savings pay off the solar.

          Understand?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Let me show you a picture, Andrew. This is what has been happening in the US. As more renewables have come on line and produce a larger portion of our electricity our use of fossil fuels has been dropping.

            Renewables are replacing fossil fuels.

          • Andrew H Mackay

            You say that there is no delaying of burning fuel – but you describe exactly that! When the sun goes down – the diesel engine is started after a 5 hour delay and will run for another 19 hours! Obviously, over time when we start to run our of all of our fossil fuels – which are endangering our planet btw, the price will skyrocket. All the (intermittent) renewables in the world are only going to SLOW down the burn rates of these finite resources – understand?

          • Bob_Wallace

            Good, Andrew, you’re starting to understand.

            Now that we’ve turned off that diesel generator for five hours thanks to solar let’s add some wind generation to our grid. Onshore wind tends to ramp up in the evening and blow harder at night. Since the wind is not as time limited as solar let’s say we average 12 hours a day during which wind gives us the power we need.

            Twelve plus five is seventeen. Now we’ve gone from 24 hours of diesel fuel use to only 7. Massive savings of fuel and massing decreases in CO2 emissions. Pretty wonderful, eh?

            But are we through? Hardly. Let’s add more wind and solar generation along with some storage. That way we can put away clean power when the wind is blowing or the Sun shining. Do enough and we can cut our diesel use to about zero.

            That’s how we make claims like “renewables like wind, waves and tidal generate the wrong kind of electricity at usually all the wrong times” inoperative.

    • Rubbish = Land Fill Gas = 7 MW of production – see the graph!

  • Larmion

    Hang on. Your title says ‘over 100% of electricity needs’.

    The first paragraphs of the article than go on to say that wind supplied 126% of household electricity use and solar panels/water heaters did well too.

    Last time I was in Scotland, there still was quite a bit of industry. And offices. And shops. In a typical country, those account for a large part of electricity demand.

    Of course, 126% of household demand from wind alone still translates to a very significant overall renewable share indeed. But 100%? Not at all.

    • Sorry, that’s my bad & I’m fixing.

      • Matt

        So 126% of home use, plus PV and hot water, plus some other RE. So for electric RE was > 100% home, any estimate on % of country electric. Yes I know there was import/export they are not isolated; but still a number of interest.

    • Will E

      Scotland can attract energy intensive industries with cheap clean energy.

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