26 Sep 2012
Scotland’s windfarms are operating well under capacity, experts have said, meaning more are being built than necessary and existing ones not fully utilised.
The efficiency of turbines across Scotland has been called into question by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, who said more could be made of the energy they do produce.
Better investment in electricity storage would lead to less windfarms being built to produce the same amount of energy, sparing communities the anxiety of controversial planning applications, and saving the Scottish Government money on subsidy.
The Scottish Conservatives have now urged the SNP to investigate the issue as a matter of urgency after raising it in a Scottish Parliament debate.
The purpose of energy storage is to hold energy from renewable sources when there is a surplus, produced by strong winds, and use this reserve for when there is a deficit or the blade isn’t turning.
This would allow the SNP to hit its 100 per cent renewables target far more easily, without building significantly more windfarms.
Scottish Conservative energy spokeswoman Mary Scanlon MSP said:
“Given the SNP’s obsession with windfarms, it makes sense for existing ones to be made more effective, meaning there will be less need for others to be built in future.
“We cannot have a situation where there is a single-minded drive to force windfarms on communities across Scotland, regardless of how little energy they produce.
“I have raised this with the Cabinet Minister, and I’m pleased that in a written response he has agreed to look into this.
“People will find it hard to accept that windfarms are producing energy which is being simply wasted.
“Electricity storage would solve a lot of problems for the Scottish Government, especially as councils and residents across Scotland are losing patience with its bullying approach on the matter.”
Notes to Editors
The importance of electricity storage mechanisms, and how they appear to have been overlooked, was explained in a presentation by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers to the Scottish Parliament.
According to the paper it submitted:
As wind and solar power are intermittent forms of generation, when the proportion of these sources increases in the mix, additional measures are needed to maintain a safe and efficient balance between electricity supply and demand on the power system. To date, the adoption of electricity storage technologies as a means of providing power system support has been limited, due to a combination of regulatory, commercial and technical factors.
Furthermore, it concluded that
There is an urgent need in the UK for a detailed analysis to be undertaken to estimate the realistic requirements for electricity storage across the power system and realistically determine its corresponding value to the nation.
In a Scottish Parliament debate about Electricity Market Reform, Mary Scanlon raised the issue with Energy Minister Fergus Ewing. Pointing out that it was not accommodated for in the bill, she stressed its importance and enquired if Mr Ewing had discussed the issue with his UK counterparts.
More detailed views on electricity storage from the Institute can be found here: