Scotland’s weather: Summer boost for renewables

SCOTLAND’S summer may have been a washout, but the wet and windy weather has proved to be a “belter” for renewable energy, with the amount of electricity produced by wind turbines up by more than 50 per cent on last year.

Whitelee wind farm, Eaglesham moor, has 215 turbines generating enough electricity for some 300,000 homes. Picture: John Devlin

Wind power alone supplied 660,117.23 megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity to the National Grid in July, which is enough to supply on average the needs of 72 per cent of Scottish homes – the equivalent of 1.75 million households.

That was up by 58 per cent from the same month in 2014, according to environmental campaigners at WWF Scotland.

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They analysed data on wind and solar power from WeatherEnergy for July, and discovered that wind power alone generated more than a third of Scotland’s electricity needs for the month.

The amount of electricity used by homes, businesses and industry last month totalled 1,856,789.5MWh, with wind power producing 36 per cent of this. On eight days in July the amount of energy generated by wind turbines was sufficient to meet the needs of every home in Scotland, WWF found.

Its Scotland director, Lang Banks, said: “It may have been among one of the wettest and windiest months in decades, but July also turned out to be a belter of a month for wind power in Scotland.

“Thanks to a combination of increased capacity and much windier weather, output from turbines was up more than half compared to the same period last year – supplying power equivalent to the electrical needs of 1.75 million homes.” Despite the wet weather, there was enough sunshine to allow homes with solar PV panels to generate 94 per cent of the average electricity need in Aberdeen, compared with 87 per cent in Inverness, 85 per cent in ­Edinburgh and 79 per cent in Glasgow.

Meanwhile for homes which use solar power to heat their water, the sunshine could have generated 92 per cent of an average home’s hot water needs in Aberdeen, compared with 87 per cent in Inverness, 85 per cent in Edinburgh and 74 per cent in Glasgow.

Mr Banks said: “Despite the clouds and overcast skies, for tens of thousands of homes that have installed solar panels to generate electricity or heat water, around four-fifths of their electricity or hot water needs could have been met by the sun. This all helped Scotland to further reduce its reliance on polluting fossil fuels during July.”

The data was released as US President Barack Obama moved ahead with even tougher greenhouse gas cuts, aiming to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 32 per cent by 2030 from the 2005 levels.

Mr Banks added: “Improving energy efficiency and embracing renewables is what is what is going to take the world one step closer to addressing the challenge of global climate change. “It’s therefore great to see President Obama follow Scotland’s lead and throw his weight behind more renewables in the US. It sends a very powerful message globally that more politicians need to get right behind green energy.”

SNP MSP Mike Mackenzie said: “These outstanding figures are a welcome demonstration of the growing strength of Scotland’s renewables, with a 58 per cent boost on the previous year’s figure showing the incredible strides Scotland is making in producing clean, sustainable energy – and confirming the vital role green energy can play in meeting energy needs.”