Experts warn of power cuts as warm, dry weather creates a blow for wind turbine energy

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POWER cuts could hit Scotland this summer because of dry weather, experts have warned.

The lowest levels of rainfall for decades have seen hydro-electric output almost halved, and there are concerns calm weather has slashed wind turbine power production.

Forecasters have predicted the hot, dry conditions will last over the summer months.

On Wednesday, 800 homes in Errol, Perthshire, suffered a blackout, while the island of Eigg and the Knoydart peninsula area are facing power shortages because their renewable energy systems cannot cope with the recent weather.

Experts believe power surges caused by the number of televisions tuned into the World Cup, Wimbledon and the Open could add to the problems.

About a fifth of Scotland's electricity is provided by renewables - mainly hydro schemes and wind farms.

Rural areas are most at risk as local grids are less able to respond.

Independent energy consultant John Large said: "What is happening in these remote parts is a microcosm of what could happen across Scotland.One of the problems that Scotland faces is its extra reliance on renewables. Renewables are very much prone to output fluctuations in the summer."

He added: "One can envisage a situation this summer where a sudden surge in demand would give a grid controller a choice to make. And the truth is facing the choice of keeping the lights on in Edinburgh, for example, or keeping them on in the villages, farms and homesteads round about."

But the National Grid is confident its network is reliable.

A spokesman said: "We have a team of expert forecasters who work out what demand is going to be at any one time to make sure that there is more than enough electricity to meet demand."

The Met Office yesterday issued a warning of stormy weather today, with gusts of up to 70mph forecast for higher parts of Scotland.