March 28, 2013

Power failure as wind farms grow far faster than output

By Michael Blackley, Scottish Political Reporter | Scottish Daily Mail | 29 March 2013 |

The number of wind turbines sprouting up across Scotland soared by a third last year.

But the amount of electricity they actually produced increased at a much slower rate.

Official figures published yesterday show the relentless march of wind farms across the countryside reached record levels last year.

The capacity of onshore wind turbines soared by 33 per cent to 14,181 megawatts in 2012, said the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

However, the total amount of electricity actually generated by onshore wind only went up by 17 per cent, to 8,212 gigawatt hours.

Tory MSP Murdo Fraser, convener of the Scottish parliament’s energy committee, said: ‘This exposes the folly of concentrating so much on one form of renewable energy.’

The continuing expansion of the number of wind farms is crucial if Alex Salmond is to achieve his target of 100 per cent of Scotland’s electricity needs being produced from green energy by 2020.

Shadow Energy Minister Tom Greatrex said: ‘The figures show that whilst there has been a significant expansion in onshore wind, development of largescale technologies such as offshore wind and hydro power has largely stalled.’

Industry body Scottish Renewables said total investment in 2012 reached £1.54billion, with green energy ‘on track to be Scotland’s main source of electricity by the end of this year’.

The total of green energy produced – including hydro and biomass – rose by 7 per cent last year.

In 2011, 33 per cent of Scotland’s electricity came from nuclear, followed by 21 per cent from coal, 16 per cent from gas, 14 per cent from wind and 10 per cent from hydro-electricity.

Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: ‘ In 2012 Scotland contributed more than a third of the UK’s renewables output. We remain on course to generate 100 per cent of Scotland’s electricity needs from renewables by 2020.’

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