Scotland’s Energy Future: Time to Take Stock

This we have received from an un-attributed source but considered it worth sharing.

In line with the ambitions of the Climate Change Act, enacted with all-party support in 2009, the Scottish Government has displayed a commendable seriousness about tackling the threat of runaway global warming. But its efforts to move Scotland towards a low carbon economy currently have the country hurtling down the wrong path, not to a “renewables nirvana” but towards the worst of all possible worlds, with:

·        sky high energy costs

·        a blighted landscape

·        an embedded dependence on imported electricity and/or fossil fuel back-up on the frequent occasions when the wind doesn’t blow.

And it is doing so in pursuit of a target (100% renewable electricity generation by 2020) which is not a matter of international obligation but the product of pre-election exuberance.

The time has come for a re-think, before Scotland commits itself irrevocably to an energy future which will handicap the country economically for decades and ruin many of its precious landscapes for ever.

The problem lies not in the goals of lower fossil fuel consumption and greater energy security. It lies in an over-reliance on a single, inefficient technology – wind – to boost Scotland’s low carbon electricity generation.

Wind energy does indeed make use of a natural resource with which Scotland is abundantly endowed. But it:

  • ·        is highly intermittent, raising starkly the issue of back-up capacity and requiring installed capacity many times as great as theoretical output
  • ·        is very obtrusive visually, requiring huge machines to generate significant amounts of power
  • ·        relies heavily on imported equipment
  • ·        brings few long-term jobs
  • ·        puts money into the hands of a few, often already wealthy, landowners and developers
  • ·        is dangerously divisive socially, pitting neighbour against neighbour, community against community, and all too often central government against local democracy.

It may be part of the answer to Scotland’s energy needs but it is very far from being the green panacea as which it is sometimes presented. Over-reliance upon it will be highly wasteful economically and disastrously damaging scenically. It could seriously exacerbate the problems of fuel poverty that are already widespread across Scotland, in both urban and rural areas.

It is already clear that the rest of the world is not pursuing a similar path of renewable energy at all costs. In some cases attitudes elsewhere can rightly be condemned as environmental irresponsibility. But in others the explanation is the entirely worthy one of concentrating on the true end – cutting carbon emissions – not a particular means: increasing renewable electricity generation. By focusing on the latter, and paying too little attention to the more fundamental challenges, such as reducing energy consumption, Scotland risks putting itself not in the vanguard but at a severe competitive disadvantage. And in the process of squandering the advantage that it possesses in the one area where it undoubtedly already has a world-class asset: the beauty of its landscapes.

What Scotland urgently needs, therefore, is a thorough-going review of its whole approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and achieving the vital transition to a low carbon economy. As its people contemplate whether to embark on the path to independence, they need the assurance that the country is not about to saddle itself with a lethal combination of high energy costs, unreliable electricity supply and a blighted countryside. The key steps would be:

  • ·        a moratorium on the consideration of new onshore wind energy proposals from 1 January 2013; and
  • ·        a review of the policies and action required to de-carbonise the economy to be concluded by 31 December 2013.

The nation is only just waking up to the consequences – for energy bills and for its world-renowned landscapes – of the policies currently being pursued. It deserves an opportunity to debate the issues further, thoroughly and dispassionately, before the dream of Scotland becoming a powerhouse of green energy turns into the nasty reality that it is fast becoming.





About Dougal Quixote

Slightly mad. Always believes a cup is half full so continues to tilt at Wind Turbines and the politicians that seem to believe it is their god given right to ruin Scotland for a pot of fool's gold.
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2 Responses to Scotland’s Energy Future: Time to Take Stock

  1. Dave Gibson says:

    Just for the avoidance of any doubt, the Mountaineering Council of Scotland is not the source of the information ‘SCOTLAND’S ENERGY FUTURE: TIME TO TAKE STOCK’. David Gibson, Chief Officer, The Mountaineering Council of Scotland

  2. Apologies to MCofS for this being originally mis-credited. The views of MCofS are on their web site and are directed to their sphere of interest. We admire their stance on these issues and support them totally. However the views of this post go into areas beyond their policy. For that we apologise for any embarrassment caused. The information came from a normally excellent source who have apologised that in this case they were mis-informed.

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