Opponents of wind farms have claimed that the increasing reliance on them could plunge Scotland into darkness.
The Scottish Government is considering more than 40 applications for major projects, which could clear the way for nearly 1,000 turbines.
Each wind farm could produce enough electricity to power thousands of homes, but objectors claim that even if just some of them were approved, the grid would become overloaded and trigger blackouts.
Campaigners cite the Czech Republic, which installed security breakers near its border with Germany, because its network could not cope with the electricity produced by its neighbours during peak periods.
The anti-wind farm lobby says a surge of electricity from turbines caused by high winds was to blame for a power cut last month that affected 200,000 properties in parts of the Highlands and islands. The overload claims have been dismissed by the National Grid and energy giants Scottish Hydro Electric said it had positively identified the cause of the blackout as faulty equipment in a substation.
Campaigner Lyndsey Ward, of Kiltarlity, near Inverness, said: “With other countries safeguarding their grids from the dumping of unwanted wind energy by neighbours, the Scottish Government is taking us for fools if they think we blindly believe what they say.”
SNP ministers are examining 41 applications for developments of 50 megawatts or more, a total of 966 giant turbines, including 10 in the Highlands, one each in Moray and the Western Isles and three in Argyll and Bute.
Andrew Mackay, a campaigner and electrical engineer from Tain, Easter Ross, said that when it was blustery, turbines produced “junk” electricity that could not be used. He said: “We are going to get more power cuts because more and more junk electricity will end up on the grid.”
But Michael Rieley, of Scottish Renewables, said: “There is no evidence that adding more onshore wind generation will lead to blackouts.” A spokesman for Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission said last month’s blackout was caused by a faulty relay.
He said: “Our investigation identified that the outage was triggered by a mal-operating electronic relay within Knocknagael substation, south of Inverness. A review of the network has been completed and we are confident that the cause has now been addressed.”
A National Grid spokeswoman said it was unlikely a surge in wind-produced electricity would cause a blackout, and a Scottish Government spokesman said: “Claims on overloading the grid are incorrect. The transmission owners are obliged under their licence to ensure that the electricity network is planned, operated and maintained to the required quality and security of supply standards at all times.”
Lord Deben of Winston, formerly Conservative minister John Selwyn Gummer, said yesterday that the UK had already approved enough onshore wind turbines to meet legally binding climate change targets.
The Tory peer is the UK government’s chief climate adviser.
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