Scotland to the Rescue: Seeks 100% Renewable Energy by 2020

On the same day that President Obama rejected the keystone pipeline, BP issued a report sees an oil-dominated future, especially in China and India, for decades to come. It is a nightmare scenario, because human beings cannot go on spewing greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide into the atmosphere for that long without producing extreme catastrophes down the line.

In contrast, Scotland has announced an ambitious plan to get 100% of its energy from renewables by 2020! A reminder: that is only 8 years away.

How will Scotland do this? With offshore wind turbines. It has 6 gigawatts of wind energy online or near to being online. It will aim for 17 gigawatts as an interim goal, about a third of its energy needs, with an investment of $71 billion. Scotland is also exploring wave power, with plans for 2 gigawatts from that source. The United Arab Emirates’ Masdar renewables company is helping.

Scotland is looking to reduce the cost of offshore wind generation and distribution by 20%, which would make it competitive with hydrocarbons. (Actually it is already competitive because no one takes the dire effects of global warming into account in the price of oil and gas. What would you estimate Miami is worth?)

Scotland is even outdoing China, which is constructing 5 gigawatts worth of offshore projects by 2015.

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11 Responses

  1. And what’s Scotland going to do when the wind doesn’t blow, which is not infrequently? Presumably they’ll buy their electricity from the rest of the UK, which will therefore maintain enough coal and gas fired power stations to meet the demand.

    There is a single national electricity grid across the whole of mainland Britain. Scotland may generate enough energy from wind power to match its consumption over a year, but that isn’t the same as making itself self-sufficient or “getting all it’s energy from renewables”.

    Also, and this is a key point, Scottish consumers will expect to pay the UK average for their electricity, not the far greater cost of electricity produced by offshore turbines. That will be spread across the rest of the UK.

    • Most electricity generation involves some kind of down time, even nuclear.

      The way you deal with this is put in more wind turbines than you need, and use that extra energy to drive water uphill. When the wind isn’t blowing, you let the water go back down and get hydro-electric. We have a nuclear facility in Michigan that has this sort of back-up.

      Then, the ocean wave-generated energy is pretty constant, which can also be a backup.

      Portugal is already at 45% renewable energy generation of its electricity, and there is nothing pie in the sky about what Scotland is doing.

      • And do you think no one will object to the environmental impact of covering the Scottish highlands with enormous reservoirs and hydroelectric stations? How many villages will need to be flooded and the populations rehoused? How many roads rerouted? I suspect you aren’t familiar with the planning system in the UK and the fierceness with which attempts to alter the countryside are opposed.

        • Except it is all right to drill for oil in the ocean. No environmental impact there.

      • I swear, I cannot understand the visceral hatred that some people have for renewables. But I think there is some insight in Kevin Phillips’ book “American Theocracy”, where he argues that the Netherlands, Britain, and the US each in turn dominated the world with a particular type of energy (wind, coal, and oil), but that this form of energy also formed the rigid cultural norms that made it impossible for those societies to rationally consider alternatives later. He says that Britain practically made a religion of coal while the rest of the world was moving on.

        I’m agnostic on various types of renewables. They’re clearly improving in price. But each is limited by nature to certain environments. So the more varieties we have, the better. Scotland is one of the few places (along with Hawaii and Australia) where wave power is very attractive, therefore there are a limited number of researchers and financiers working to improve it. Dry rock geothermal is really neglected given that old oil and gas wells could be a useful starter for the industry in Louisiana and Texas.

        The hallmark of every renewable-hater is that he singles out one particular type as being enforced by the enviro-Commies as the only solution that will be financed (by taxes), with the obvious problems that causes. Not one of these trolls talks about the complex interactions between multiple renewables in the same market.

        However, I’ve kept an eye on flying wind turbines, operating at altitudes where wind is constant and transmitting energy down a tether to the ground by various means. A high-risk, high-energy density approach on which research has heated up in the last decade. We really need a fly-off between the current prototypes so we can nail down a cost estimate.

        • It does seem that when you have micros that would compete with an old school supercomputer but take only one stamp to mail, it should be possible to control a team of large kites to be useful.

  2. Ahhh, those independent Scottish folk, first wanting independence from England now with energy! It is a wise move, and for other reasons than the one given. It will make Scotland less dependent politically. One has to love those brave-hearted Scott’s! :-)

    Given the rush to corner, or to tie up the world’s natural gas which would put Europe under the thumbs of Russian pressure.

    “Gazprom News – The New York Times › Business › CompaniesThe line between state-owned Gazprom and the Russian state is often blurry, and became more … The monopoly’s primary activity is selling natural gas in Europe at market rates to … became an instrument for centralizing authority, buying up opposition television stations …. Russian Investors Seek to Block BP-Rosneft Deal …”

    It is a heavy mantel put on mom’s sometimes and a stony difficult path given to walk, “when men contrive with deceit in mind”. Americans? They are the people one is losing faith in, faith is lost. Americans seem more intend in the silvery tongue selling the Brooklyn Bridge to every passer by, and finding ways to restrict people by laws that bind our people in chains. Exploit and bind has become the American psyche.

  3. Hooray for Scotland. I believe Spain has already done all or much of a conversion to wind/solar.

    The USA has done nothing because, I believe, [1] our educational and news (propaganda) system is lousy or corrupt and [2] our political system responds to campaign money rather than to human needs (and corporations and the vfery rich are concerned with very short-term things such as current profits rather than withn long-term things like GLOBAL WARMING and NATIONAL DEBT and ECONOMY (never mind how much they talk, they don’t mean it!)

  4. Another stunning contrast with the commonly-held US excuses of

    * “We aren’t the only ones and our contribution isn’t 100% anyway, so let’s not even start” and
    * “It would be risky for the US to get out in front on something new”

    • Yes, it is very different than the way we were a century ago. There is almost a palpable fear in the hegemonic power that any change at all, in technology, in politics, in economics, in religion, in consciousness, will lead to its collapse. All progress is only permitted to act as band-aids on existing practices, just as vast improvements in engine efficiency have only led to bigger SUVs, and the Internet is forcibly harnessed to protecting obsolete concepts of intellectual property.

  5. One side benefit may well be that it seems to be causing Trump to reconsider his plans to destroy a sensitive coastal environment by building golf courses and hotels catering to the 1%. On the other hand, he may be using the wind turbines, which he claims will spoil the view from his projected development, as a cover for his need to withdraw from the project for financial reasons. Too bad the Scottish government and the authorities in Aberdeenshire didn’t take note at the very outset of Trump’s propensity to bite off more than he can chew–those who sought to oppose him might still hold the offices from which the money-hungry politicians drove them.

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