Scottish Government plans to generate all of the country’s electricity from renewables have been blown off course by the summer heatwave.
Wind farm electricity output drastically fell away as a high pressure system throughout June, July and August gave the country a welcome break from months of rain.
The massive drop in energy production during the weeks of hot, windless weather has seen wind farm critics claim the strategy will see the “lights go out” in Scotland.
In total turbines produced 1,044GWh (gigawatt hours) of electricity in June, 4.7 per cent of the total 22,335MWh input from all sources into the National Grid.
In July that total dropped to just 726GWh – or 3.1 per cent, of the total.
The statistics for this month lie at 667MWh, which is 5.1 per cent of the total output.
During one week-long period at the height of the heatwave, one wind farm – Bilbster, near Wick – was generating enough to boil little more than 180 kettles, instead of the intended equivalent of 1,300.
First Minister Alex Salmond hopes renewables will eventually meet all of Scotland’s energy needs.
The Scottish Government has a goal of generating 50 per cent of the country’s electricity from renewable sources by 2015 and 100 per cent by 2020.
Anti-wind farm campaigners said the figures proved that the Scottish Government was on the wrong track.
Linda Holt, of Scotland Against Spin, said: “Wind is completely variable and completely unpredictable, which means it can only ever be an adjunct to a proper energy supply that is steady and predictable such as fossil fuels, nuclear or hydro.
“We are putting far too many of our eggs in the wind basket.”
On June 23, windfarms contributed 95,206MWh (megawatt hours) – but two days later the total fell to just 6,293MWh when the wind died down.
And while total generation was recorded as 22,742MWh on July 21, the next six days only saw 9,615MWh being produced at the height of the heatwave.
But the slump in production has continued right up till last week.
Figures show that the amount of power being generated was so low that the wind farm at Bilbster produced just 558kw (kilowatts), which meant it was running at 85 per cent under capacity.
However, Jenny Hogan, of the industry body Scottish Renewables, said it was more important to look at wind power figures over a sustained time period, rather than looking at particular days.
She said: “It won’t come as a surprise to anyone that some days are windier than others.
“But it’s important to look at the average output for onshore wind over the entire year rather than snapshots of single days.
“Onshore wind in Scotland helps meet the equivalent of 22 per cent of our electricity demand with other renewable technologies contributing a further 17 per cent.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Renewable generation in Scotland was at a record high in 2012, meeting around 39 per cent of our electricity demand.”
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