Scottish Public Increasingly In Favor Of Wind Power

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New polling numbers from Britain’s YouGov has found that 71% of Scottish adults are in favor of the continued development of wind power as part of the country’s energy mix, a number that has increased from 64% two years prior.

Modern wind turbines in Scotland appear to bask in the afternoon sun.Founded in the UK, YouGov has often been used by British renewable energy agencies to poll the nation on their views towards clean energy. This time around, Scottish Renewables contracted the company to discover the northern country’s perspective on wind development, at the same time that it was revealed that the capacity of onshore wind in Scotland had risen by 20% over the same two-year period.

“These poll results highlight once again that not only do the vast majority of Scots support wind power, but the number who do is actually increasing,” said Joss Blamire, Senior Policy Manager at Scottish Renewables. “The wind energy sector is thriving in Scotland, providing jobs, investment and helping to tackle climate change — and these figures show it’s doing all of this with the Scottish public right behind it.”

“We are often told by a vocal minority of objectors that Scots don’t like wind power, but this poll shows there is absolutely no evidence to support this — in fact, quite the opposite.”

The polling was conducted towards the end of February, and included over 2,000 Scottish adults, who answered questions online.

The relevant question from the YouGov survey read as follows:

Scotland currently uses a mix of coal, oil, gas, nuclear and renewable energy to power and heat our homes and businesses. Renewable energy sources include onshore and offshore wind, hydro, bioenergy, wave and tidal energy.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement?

“I support the continuing development of wind power as part of a mix of renewable and conventional forms of electricity generation”

71% of total respondents agreed with the statement in some manner, and only 13% disagreed to some degree (with another 13% neither agreeing or disagreeing, and 3% responding “Don’t know”).

The polling results come less than a day after Scottish clean energy developer Banks Renewable submitted plans for an 88.4 MW wind farm to be located east of New Cumnock in East Ayrshire. If approved by the Scottish government, the wind farm would provide enough power for 58,000 average homes, while cutting carbon emissions by approximately 3.3 million tonnes over the course of the farms lifetime.

At the same time, Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing announced to the Community and Renewable Energy Scheme (CARES) conference organized by Local Energy Scotland that energy projects under community or local ownership grew by 27% in 2014, well on track to meet the country’s target of 500 MW of such energy by 2020.

“The Scottish Government is defining a distinctive approach to Scotland’s future energy provision; putting communities at the heart of decisions about their local energy system; and empowering them to take an economic stake in new developments,” Mr Ewing said, as he announced more than £20 million in funding for five projects across Scotland.

The successful recipients are:

  • £1.8 million to Community Energy Scotland to develop viable grid connections for small scale generators in areas of constrained network on Mull.
  • £6 million to Insch Renewable Energy Consortium to develop a community energy system linking local energy demand with local renewable generation in a rural area of Aberdeenshire – helping to reduce electricity costs.
  • £3.2 million to Castle Rock Edinvar Housing Association to develop innovative local heat storage solutions, which will help alleviate fuel poverty for over 1,000 tenants across Falkirk and the Lothians.
  • £6 million to Highland Council to provide low carbon affordable heat and alleviate fuel poverty via a water source heat pump district heating network in Caol near Fort William – benefiting over 500 homes.
  • £4 million to Bright Green Hydrogen to use hydrogen to meet local transport, heating and storage needs across Levenmouth.

“These projects are a huge step towards defining a distinctive approach to Scotland’s future energy provision. They will provide vital learning across extremely challenging areas, such as adding value to local economies, matching local supply and demand, and addressing fuel poverty.

“But we know this is just the beginning, and we want to support more innovations like these. This is why the Scottish Government will run a second Challenge Fund, subject to the next spending round, making up to £500,000 will be available in 2015/2016.”

The news comes after repeated months of wind energy records for Scotland, supplying 126% of all home energy needs in October, and 107% in November of 2014, and 146% of all Scottish household needs in January. Needless to say, it is entirely likely Scotland is going to continue breaking records, with public and governmental support leading the way for the country to become a global wind energy powerhouse.

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Joshua S Hill

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37 thoughts on “Scottish Public Increasingly In Favor Of Wind Power

  • They should start looking into building some pumped-hydro facilities so they have a way to store some of that wind energy when there is excess.

    • Scotland already has a very significant pumped hydro capacity (nearly 800MW), with another 800MW proposed.

      However, the need for storage at the current level of wind penetration is still very low. Between the significant expansion of Scotland/England interconnection capacity on one side and an even larger increase in England/Continental Europe transmission capacity, storage is still not at all required. There is even talk of the vast Longannet coal power station closing once those transmission upgrades are complete.

      When you have a grid the size of western Europe, you don’t need a lot of storage. Intermittency is low over such a large area, and the huge glut of gas fired power stations currently idled around Europe (due to sluggish power demand and extremely low coal prices) makes for a perfect backup solution.

      • Depends. Transfer losses are proportional to distance; and grid size of EU is still not enough to fully balance variation in wind production and its impedance with needs. So while good grid interconnection is useful and important, it does not eliminate the need for more storage.

        • Transmission losses are proportional to distance, but are extremely low on the HVDC lines that make up an increasing proportion of new interconnection capacity. They matter on existing infrastructure, but are at worst in the low single digits for new interconnection capacity.

          You don’t need to fully smooth out wind production (yet). Given weather forecasts are reliable enough to predict ouput with almost perfect accuracy several hours in advance and there is significant excess capacity on the European grid, you can smooth out the residual variation easily with existing capacity.

          Once wind reaches very high levels of penetration, that’ll change. But why invest money in a technology that is relentlessly falling in price long before you actually need it?

          • Interesting on order of magnitude for losses: I was aware that HVDC has lower losses, but do not recall seeing accurate numbers to know exactly how low.

            I agree in that those do not have to be completely smoothed out. And even the option of slight over-building is not as bad in reality (compared to intuitive “wrongness” of ‘wasting’ energy): fuel is still free. So it may be cost-effective thing to do, to occasionally just disconnect wind.

            As to costs, yes and no. Pumped hydro prices are probably are not going to go down a lot.
            But I think it does make sense to plan, design, and then consider building based on situation. So I agree in that one should not rush into doing things “just in case”.

  • Spin and nonsense. Poll the people who are affected by industrial wind and the results will be very different. There is a huge growing movement against onshore wind and how it is funded.

    • Look at before-and-after polls. Curiously, they show very strong opposition to a proposed turbine development before it is realised and a very positive attitude afterwards. Why? Because very few of the nonsense anti-wind activists shout turns out to be true.

      – ‘They’re idle most of the time!’. With capacity factors in excess of 40% for new onshore turbines, they’re hardly ever idle.

      – ‘They’re incredibly noisy!’. Sure, older turbines that were improperly sited and had poorly designed blades could be quite noisy. Neither holds true under current planning regulations and with modern turbine design.

      – ‘They’re ugly!’. No more so than other large structures. People get used to the sight of them remarkably quickly, and many say they actually like them (even Sheffield’s recently demolished cooling towers were perceived as beautiful by locals because they had been there so long).

      – ‘They emit harmful infrasound!’. Not according to any peer reviewed research, quite the contrary.

      – ‘They kill birds and bats!’. Some poorly sited turbines kill a disproportionate number of birds. Modern planning regulation takes this into account, hence the reduction in size of some proposed farms. Bird fatalities for a well-sited turbine are lower than for any other electricity source, save perhaps for PV (for which few statistics exist as of yet) or nuclear.

      – ‘They’re expensive!’. This is the biggest nonsense of all. Onshore wind needs a lower strike price than any other renewable or indeed nuclear. Coal is marginally cheaper, but only when health effects are not taken into account.

      • The truth will out. Affected rural communities do not change their minds. They try and get out but property prices fall. 40%? are you having a laugh. A wind industry propagandist of the highest order who joins the politicians in denying health impacts and people’s suffering. You should be ashamed of yourself.

        • Yes, 40% is quite common for a turbine built today. That’s due to the massive increase in swept area – peak generation is sacrificed in exchange for steady output (which results in a higher capacity factor).

          The most recent data made available by DECC, which cover the first quarter of 2014, give a load factor of 41% for Scottish onshore wind turbines. Granted, the first quarter is windier than average. However, that figure is an aggregate weighed down sharply by a huge array of old farms with capacity factors of 20% and lower.

          • Well we will wait with bated breath because it won’t happen. The point is people should not be collateral damage to this industry. Their concerns are being ignored for something that is too expensive and will never give energy security and is funded by everyone – even the poor. A regressive tax.

          • By too expensive you mean the cheapest form of new energy. Or do you prefer to be just wrong.

            people should not be collateral damage to this industry.

            The only industry people should be collateral damage to are the fossil fuel and nuclear industries? The way I see it you can be for immediately shutting down all fossil fuel and all nuclear plants, or you can be a hypocrite. Do you see another choice?

          • Right, as opposed to healthy alternatives like coal, where fuel is free and there are not external harms whatsoever caused.

            Wait, no. Actually all energy production modes have trade-offs to consider. But in some cases ideology against wind becomes religion, and then nothing will change that, least of all facts or actual experiences.

      • Where is there a wind factory with a “capacity factor in excess of 40%”?
        Braes of Doune-26%
        Novar 2- 25.7%
        Edinbaine 28.4%
        Baillie 30.9%
        just a few
        The remainder of your comment is utter tripe and not worth commenting on.
        No doubt you don’t live near a wind factory.

        • The correct term is wind turbine. If you would look up the meaning of ‘factory’ in a dictionary, you’d find a turbine doesn’t meet it. At all.

          Interesting case of cherry picking. Despite doing my best to make it explicit that I’m talking about a modern turbine, you cite older farms using relatively small turbines (typically 2MW scale).

          That’s in sharp contrast with the current trend towards turbines with a far larger swept area (less noisy and more steady output, at the expense of peak generation) and larger capacities in the 3MW range.

          • It is hardly worth replying to you. You surely know, as you are in the industry, that the outdated ETSU-97 allows people to live too close to turbines. There is a serious noise issue and LFN and to continue to ignore it is shameful. People cannot sleep. Here and abroad health impacts are being reported. 2200 campaign groups against wind – are they all wrong? There will be lawsuits in the future against the wind industry. Denmark now wanting more health studies before any more major development or is that not true either? The continued denial is similar to drug companies who start out saying there is nothing wrong only to be found out years later. Water pollution has also been proven on construction sites. So much is wrong with the wind industry – where do you start?

          • I often go to Northern Germany,
            its close, and the Windturbines wave me welcome, I think they are beautyfull. They belong to the communities and cities of the former poor northern part of Germany, the money harvested from the wind is used for the school healthcare seniorhousing
            the construction creates jobs, maintenance creates jobs,
            for years now there are a lot of them, and more to come, and the region made progress in every way. The windenergy industry created a lot of jobs, money, and social benefits.
            and this well runs never dry.
            just your complaints have run dry.

          • So much is wrong with the wind industry – where do you start? Well if you started with truth-telling, then most of what is wrong with the wind industry goes away.

          • Do you think we should burn more coal , oil, gas, etc instead?

          • If you look at locations that have never had wind power there does tend to be a lot of opposition. However after the first few turbines are installed the opposition tends to quickly evaporate. This is simply because people can see and hear that the light flicker, infra sound, and noise claims are all lies.

            ordinary people have driven up to wind farms and tried to record the noise they make. Quit often the only noise recorded is from the traffic on the nearby road. You often have to get to a very remote location to hear the turbines and the sound they make isn’t loud.

            If wind was as bad as you state California would be shutting them down. Instead we are adding more in a state that doesn’t have a good wind source.

            Also if people were truly being made sick by turbines they could take the wind farm owner to court. If the wind farm repeatedly looses they would be force to shut down. But the fact of the mater is that plaintiff’s frequently loose the few cases that are filed against wind farms.

          • I’m in the wind industry? That’s news. As I went to bed last night, I firmly believed I would still be a plant scientist/agronomist the next day. I’ll let you know if my workplace has magically become a Vestas factory when I get there later today, but I doubt it.

            ‘2200 campaign groups against wind’. Any other meaningless figures? Being against something is always more mobilising than being in favor of something. You can also find huge numbers of people protesting against things like GMO’s, despite the lack of evidence for even the slightest potential harm.

            What matters is that the peer reviewed literature is unanimous on the effects of wind turbines on health: they don’t exist. LFN has no measurable effect on health whatsoever.

            Of course, some people just don’t like LFN/ocassional noise. That’s fine by me, and I’ll readily admit some older farms were built close enough to residential areas to be extremely annoying (though not physically harmful). But again, noise levels on modern turbines have come down sharply and planning laws are more strict.

            Sure, there will be lawsuits. There are lawsuits against just about anything. Look at their succes rate though: few achieve more than a short delay.

            ‘Water pollution has been proven on construction sites’. How odd. Please cite reliable proof? I’m sure you could find the data easily using freedom of information.

          • Utter bollocks, I live next to a 14 unit wind farm and they cause us no problems at all there is a slight humming noise on occasion but it certainly causes no impact on our lives.
            Yes because of the likes of you, many people were concerned because they had heard the scare stories however since coming on stream there has not been one complaint, not one.

        • This is from an email that GE sent to this site –

          “While we cannot share specific numbers from our customers’ sites unless they release it already or it’s public information, but we’re definitely seeing some above 50 percent capacity factors at many farms.

          Capacity factors obviously vary across wind farms due to a wide range of site locations and other factors. GE wind turbines in farms across the United States—in states such as Montana, California, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Kansas—have reached capacity factors of over fifty percent over the last two years (2013-14).

          These sites include a variety of GE wind turbine models and installation dates, and each site has registered capacity factors ranging from 50.4 to 52.4 percent, including availability at around 98 percent.”


          50% Annual Average Capacity factor is the new norm for some Danish offshore wind turbines. Same for some Scottish wind farms. The record is ..

          “A small wind farm on Shetland with five Vestas V47 660 kW turbines recently achieved a world record of 58% capacity over the course of a year. This record is claimed by Burradale windfarm, located just outside Lerwick and operated by Shetland Aerogenerators Ltd. Since opening in 2000, the turbines at this wind farm have had an average capacity factor of 52% and, according to this report, in 2005 averaged a world record 57.9%.[26][55]”

          Here’s a partial list of US wind farms with CF > 40% in 2012. (The GE info is 2015)

          Laredo Ridge Wind LLCNE 50.7
          Day County Wind LLCSD 50.6
          Prairie Winds SD1SD49.9
          Weatherford Wind Energy CenterOK 48.2
          Wessington SpringsSD 47.2
          Majestic 1 Wind FarmTX 47.0T
          PW PetersburgNE 46.8
          Minco Wind I, LLCOK 46.3
          Crossroads Wind FarmOK 46.1
          Blue Canyon Windpower VI LLCOK 46.1
          Kaheawa Pastures Wind FarmHI 46.1
          Caprock Wind FarmNM 45.7
          Kit Carson WindpowerCO 45.0
          Flat Water Wind FarmNE 44.8
          Victory Wind FarmIA 44.8
          McAdoo Wind Energy LLCTX 44.5
          Blue Canyon Windpower V LLCOK 44.1
          Wilton Wind II LLCND 43.6
          Elk River WindKS 43.5
          Sunray Wind ITX 43.4
          Minco Wind II, LLCOK 43.3
          Prairie Winds ND1ND 43.2
          Rolling Thunder Wind FarmSD 43.1
          Wolf Ridge WindTX 42.8
          MinnDakota Wind LLCSD 42.7

          RidgewindMN 42.6
          Blue Canyon Windpower IIOK 42.4
          Moraine II Wind LLCMN 42.4
          Tatanka Wind Power LLCND 42.0
          enton Wind FarmMN 41.8

          Taloga Wind LLCOK 41.3
          Carroll Wind FarmIA 41.3
          Elk Wind FarmIA 41.1
          Keenan II Renewable Energy Co LLCOK 40.9
          FPL Energy Oliver Wind II LLCND 40.8
          Elk City LLCOK 40.5
          Langdon Wind II LLCND 40.5
          Cedro Hill Wind LLCTX 40.4
          Luverne Wind FarmND 40.4
          Langdon Wind Energy CenterND 40.4
          EC&R Panther Creek Wind Farm ITX 40.3
          Bison I Wind Energy CenterND 40.3
          Baldwin Wind LLCND 40.3

          • Came back to see if TruthTeller would have anything to back up their fud, but it looks like the truth has scared them off.
            Kudos to Mr Bob though, the man with the numbers, you still amaze me at times with all the information you keep track of.
            Keep up the great work, best moderator that I have seen in over twenty years on the webs.

          • Actually no. I just realised you are entrenched and I have better things to do with my time, like helping others try and change such a damaging policy.

          • “like helping others try and change such a damaging policy”
            If that is truly your aim or purpose then verify your claims, give us a link to all of those protesting organizations, where are the medical or scientific studies on the damage from noise?
            You surely must have heard that there is no more ardent an apostle than one that has been converted. Show us the truth, not just random statements and you might have all of us helping you.
            Or are you not really a Truth Teller?

          • Oh, bull.

            You wandered into a group of people who are well educated about wind farms and tried to spread your misinformation.

            You got your junk shoved back down your throat and now you’re slinking away to go look for some gullible people to mislead.

          • Google Documents.

            They’re the memory I’ve never had in wetware.

            I got to use something earlier today that I had squirreled away in 2009, right after Docs became public.

          • Thanks for the info Bob, but no matter what aids you use I still think that it is pretty amazing how well you stay on top of things around here.
            My life definitely doesn’t allow for the obvious time that you put in here.
            Just giving you a well deserved pat on the back for keeping the conversations reasonable around here.
            So keep on smiling, and have a great day.

          • Second that.

  • In Australia we’ve had anti-wind campaigners make all sorts of crazy claims. One is that people had been driven out of their homes by wind farm noise. Of course they could not actually produce a single wind farm refugee to back this claim up. We’ve had anti-wind local councils enact strict setbacks for wind turbines because of supposed negative effects but then been quite happy for new housing to be built within those limits. We’ve had people claim negative health effects from wind turbines that weren’t operating. And we even have old Georgie who claims he can hear wind farms from hundreds of kilometers away. (I understand that MI6 has since hired him to spy on Putin with his super hearing.) Unfortunately this all plays into the hands of, and is encouraged by, the coal industry and their friend’s such as our Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.

  • My first visit to a wind farm in Texas last year had over 300 giant turbines.As I stood there in awe,I quickly realized just how quiet these turbines really are.It was more a swoosh sound but not at all annoying.


    • My experience as well when I stopped by a wind farm in the Colorado Front Range. Standing at the base of the tower all that was heard was a soft shooshing. Walk not far away and what one heard was the sound of the wind.

  • Everyone wants to slay monsters and be a hero. But some people manage to somehow walk right past the coal eating, smoke belching, greenhouse gas emitting, fossil fuel dragon; and decide to tilt at windmills instead. They are playing fantasy game in which they are the hero and they insist their “enemy” is truly monstrous because that makes them seem more heroic in comparison. If only they used their powers for good instead of self ego stimulation.

    • I think it’s much more simple than that. Coal-fired power plants are few in number and generally built either in a poor community that needs the revenue they bring or are placed close to a coal mine somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Either way, they don’t spoil the view from the homes of the politically active, NIMBY-ist middle class.

      Wind turbines are a much more distributed source of electricity. Especially in a relatively densily populated area like the UK, you can’t realistically avoid building turbines near wealthier communities.

      • I was referring to a particular quixotic type of anti-wind complainer, and by quixotic I mean constantly tells lies that have no basis in reality. The Joe Hockey’s of the world (Australia’s current treasurer) who find the sight of wind turbines “utterly offensive” but have no problem with coal mines which cover much more area in Australia are another type of blight on our landscape.

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