US President* Donald Trump fought tooth and nail against a new offshore wind farm in Scotland’s Aberdeen Bay, claiming it would spoil the view from his nearby Trump Aberdeen golf club. The battle waged back and forth for years, culminating in a victory for the turbines: the new wind farm celebrated its official opening earlier today under the name, “European Offshore Wind Deployment Center.”
Loss of the wind war has not dampened the Trump Organization’s enthusiasm for building things in Scotland, and that’s where the irony machine starts cranking up.
Scotland, Renewable Energy and Offshore Wind
President Trump is well known for disregarding renewables in general and offshore wind in particular, and he is pursuing a fossil-friendly energy policy in the US.
Meanwhile, Scotland is transitioning to a low carbon economy as fast as it can. Last spring the Scottish government reported that 2017 was a banner year for clean power:
New figures demonstrate renewable electricity generation in Scotland in 2017 increased by 26% on last year, and 14% on the previous record year in 2015, making 2017 a record year for renewable electricity generation and for the first time ever Scotland has more than 10GW of installed renewable capacity.
The latest figures show that in 2017, it is estimated that the equivalent of 68.1% of gross electricity consumption came from renewable sources, up 14.1 percentage points from 54% in 2016. This is 45 percentage points more than the equivalent figure for the rest of the UK.
If you noticed that thing about 68.1% of gross electricity consumption, that’s where the irony flag gets planted.
To spell it out: the Trump Aberdeen golf course is going to run on renewables, whether Trump likes it or not. Over and above the progress it has made so far, the Scottish government has set a target of 100% renewable energy equivalent for electricity production by 2020.
Other sectors are coming along more slowly, but as of December 2017 the country was looking at complete decarbonization across all sectors by 2050, including heat and transportation.
Never Mind The Renewables — Full Speed Ahead
Even before the Aberdeen turbines began producing power, Scotland was earning a reputation as a world leader in terms of sourcing electricity from renewables.
The turbines began producing last July, and now it seems that the President’s concerns over the new offshore wind farm have been laid to rest.
Not only that, it appears that the President is banking on offshore wind power to double down on his investment in Aberdeenshire.
In a curious coincidence of timing, last July — the same month that the Aberdeen turbines began spinning — word surfaced that the Trump Organization plans to build 500 homes, 50 “hotel cottages” and a sports facility in the area.
If all of that gets built, the Aberdeen Bay offshore wind farm takes partial credit for ensuring that the lights stay on. The array of 11 turbines has a capacity of 93 megawatts, or about enough to power almost 80,000 typical Scottish homes.
Offshore Wind Wins
Both of Trump’s golf courses in Scotland (he also owns a course in Turnberry) have been notorious money-losers. In contrast, the Scottish economy has been chugging along at a decent rate for the past few quarters, though some analysts are concerned that it is not keeping up with the rest of the UK.
On the plus side, the sluggish growth has been a bonanza for Scotland’s tourism sector, which could help the local economy.
Things get really interesting when you try to pinpoint the economic and social impacts of the wind farm on the local economy. It was designed to be an R&D center for offshore wind with the potential for global impact, so researchers are keeping close tabs on local developments.
CleanTechnica is reaching out to the researchers for an update, so stay tuned for more on that.
Meanwhile, it’s far too early to quantify the long term impacts, but researchers point to strong use of the local workforce as one promising factor, and at least one Aberdeen Bay marine entrepreneur is already anticipating an increase in business from tourists interested in visiting the new offshore wind farm.
Offshore wind farms do seem to be gaining favor as a tourist attraction, and Trump Aberdeen’s MacLeod House & Lodge already cites a long list of local amenities:
- Horseback riding
- Hunting and shooting
- City Tours
- Mountain exploration
- Castles and Cultural Tours
- Whisky Distillery
- Balmoral Castle
- Wildlife and bird spotting
- Royal Deeside
Don’t be surprised if you see this at the end of the list some day soon:
- European Offshore Wind Deployment Center excursions
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Photo (screenshot): Courtesy of Vattenfall via YouTube.
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