Scotland dominates UK wind wealth yet Scottish Tories brand wind power "single-minded"

High hopes for Scottish wind on the line as Tories in Holyrood maintain subsidy cut position

AROUND HALF of all the jobs and turnover in onshore wind energy sector across the UK is in Scotland despite Tory cuts, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

The number of workers in Scotland employed directly and indirectly in the low carbon and ‎renewables sector rose to 58,500 in 2015, a rise from 43,500 employed the year before.

According to figures from the ONS the low carbon and renewables sector generated £10.5bn.

Despite this growth, the industry lies in jeopardy after cuts to energy subsidies by the UK Government which have slowed incentives to build more windfarms offshore and have threatened Scotland’s status as a renewables leader.

"These figures also underline the importance of onshore wind to Scotland, both in terms of our economy and in creating jobs.” Lang Banks

The Scottish Tories have also maintained its position that support for wind power would be “singled minded” and have stuck to their policy plan of building two new nuclear plants on the existing sites of Hunterson and Torness.

Commenting on the latest renewable energy figures from the Office for National Statistics WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: "It's fantastic to see the number of renewable and low-carbon jobs continuing to rise in Scotland. This growth in green jobs has mainly been driven by stretching government targets followed up by enabling policies and other support.

“If Scotland is to secure all the benefits that a zero-carbon society would bring, it's vital Scottish ministers continue to put in place the policies and support mechanisms needed as well as giving businesses the signals they need to commit to investment and skills training.

"These figures also underline the importance of onshore wind to Scotland, both in terms of our economy and in creating jobs. It's therefore disappointing that the UK Government has ended its support for onshore wind, especially if that results in these jobs figures going down in future. Undermining onshore wind in Scotland will make it far more expensive for the entire UK to meet its climate change obligations."

This growth in green jobs has mainly been driven by stretching government targets followed up by enabling policies and other support.” Lang Banks

Breaking down the ONS figures, Scotland represents 48 per cent of all UK employment, and 53 per cent of all UK profits and turnover, in onshore wind.

In low carbon electricity generation, Scotland holds 33 per cent of all UK employment and 28 per cent of turnover.  

In 2015, the Scottish Tories came out in support of the UK Government decision to end the subsidy for windfarm projects. Murdo Fraser, the Scottish Tories economy spokesperson stated that renewable energy in Scotland could continue to thrive without the need for UK Government subsidy. However, despite this statement and the recent ONS figures a recent report showed that renewables companies expected to lose one in six workers within the next 12 months.

Fraser went on record saying: “We don’t share the single-minded focus of some other parties on onshore wind as a technology, but we do want to see a balanced portfolio of renewable energy making a contribution. We cannot go on pouring subsidy into one technology when targets are already being met. The UK Government is taking the right decisions to protect consumers, and should be commended for doing so.”

Picture courtesy of Robert Cutts

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Comments

Arthur Blue's picture

Arthur Blue

Mon, 04/10/2017 - 18:46

I'm not sure if the Conservatives actually have a considered energy policy, but they have identified a tranche of voters who are vociferously against wind turbines and they are determined to scoop them up.

Scottish Scientist

Tue, 04/11/2017 - 09:07

Targets are unambitious if they are being met because Scotland is still a very long way from 100% renewable energy.

We do need lots more wind power and perhaps subsidies to help wind farms to use surplus wind power by installing electrolysis plant to make hydrogen fuel gas from water. Hydrogen fuel gas can be sold to gas suppliers or stored to be used later for power generation.

Those subsidies can be paid for by the National Grid ending constraint / curtailment payments to wind farms and instead fining wind farms who supply power into the grid when ordered not to.

If the UK National Grid will not adopt those or better policies to give the right incentives to wind farms then we must press to have a Scottish National Grid so Scotland can better manage our wind farms and our wind power.

Scottish Scientist
Independent Scientific Adviser for Scotland
https://scottishscientist.wordpress.com/

* Double Tidal Lagoon Baseload Scheme
* Off-Shore Electricity from Wind, Solar and Hydrogen Power
* World’s biggest-ever pumped-storage hydro-scheme, for Scotland?
* Modelling of wind and pumped-storage power
* Scotland Electricity Generation – my plan for 2020

DaveS

Tue, 04/11/2017 - 10:31

I'm no Tory, but the issue of base load generating capacity will not go away. Bragging about Scotland having a 20% capacity margin ignores the fact that this is only the case when the wind blows. Since Longannet was decommissioned we now have to import power from England on calm days. Just two buildings in Scotland, Hunterston and Torness, quietly go about their business of producing around half of Scotland's electricity round the clock, but they are growing old. The day is approaching when further life extensions will not be possible. This issue really has to be addressed, and there has been very little effective political leadership from any party on this rather important issue.

More can be done. Scotland has around 1500 MW of conventional hydro generation. Most of these installations could be fitted with back pumps (basically industrial fire pumps) to absorb intermittent renewable generation. This would, however, require legislative change since ROCs and FITs are currently not available for pumped hydro. Battery technology added to intermittent renewable generation installations at the point of generation would allow them to more effectively trade ahead and deliver energy at peak times for highest prices.

Scotland is blessed with huge natural energy resources, but to make effective use of them requires so much more than just shoving up another batch of wind turbines. And if you wish a sleepless night, Google "black start capability".

Scottish Scientist

Sat, 04/15/2017 - 18:03

@DaveS

I advised converting Longannet to biomass-burning rather than decommission it altogether.

Biomass-burning power stations substantially cut the total cost of a 100% renewable energy system by reducing the required scale of over-capacity in intermittent generators and pumped-storage capacity.

Even now therefore it is still a cost-effective investment to use the Longannet site for a biomass-burning power station - new build if it is too late to convert what remains of the coal-fired plant there.
___
"Battery technology added to intermittent renewable generation installations at the point of generation" DaveS
___
That's a very good point for discussion.

You might be right about that Dave but consider that rather than batteries, for farm-scale energy storage we may prefer more cost effective ways of storing large amounts of energy, such as power-to-gas, making hydrogen fuel gas from water using the surplus power that would otherwise have to be constrained / curtailed.

In the case of farm scale energy storage, there is at times no shortage of surplus power, but rather a shortage of energy storage capacity.

So the advantage of greater efficiency of battery storage is paired with the disadvantage of greater cost in energy storage capacity.

Research into the relative cost / performance of the different energy storage methods available for any wind / solar farm would be of great interest and very useful.

Scottish Scientist
Independent Scientific Adviser for Scotland
https://scottishscientist.wordpress.com/

* Double Tidal Lagoon Baseload Scheme
* Off-Shore Electricity from Wind, Solar and Hydrogen Power
* World’s biggest-ever pumped-storage hydro-scheme, for Scotland?
* Modelling of wind and pumped-storage power
* Scotland Electricity Generation – my plan for 2020

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