Strong winds across Scotland last Sunday were cause for warnings from the Met Office but celebration from environmentalists as wind farms generated 106% of the country’s energy needs for the day.
The surge in power generated was due to exceptionally strong winds throughout the day with wind speeds of up to 115mph recorded up in the mountains. Winds were so strong early in the week that on Tuesday, an oil rig being towed from Norway to Malta ran aground on the Scottish coast.
But while the wind certainly caused disruptions for many, the one positive upshot was the huge amount of renewable energy generated.
According to WWF Scotland, Scottish wind turbines generates a total of 39,545 megawatt-hours of electricity over the day – more than the 37,202 used by the country’s homes and businesses.
Lang Banks, director of WWF Scotland, said: “While Sunday’s weather caused disruption for many people, it also proved to be a good day for wind power output, with wind turbines alone providing the equivalent of all Scotland’s total electricity needs.
“This major moment was made possible thanks in part to many years of political support, which means that across the year now renewables contribute well over half of our electricity needs.
“However, if we want to ensure we reap the many benefits of becoming a low carbon economy, we need to see this political support for renewables continue.
“We also need the Scottish government’s forthcoming energy strategy to set a goal of securing half of all of our energy, across electricity, heat and transport, from renewables by 2030.
“While it’s not impossible that this has happened in the past, it’s certainly the first time since we began monitoring the data in 2015 that we’ve had all the relevant information to be able to confirm it. However, on the path to a fully renewable future, this certainly marks a significant milestone.”
This makes Scotland the latest in a growing list of countries who have benefitted from short term extreme weather causing huge amounts of renewable energy to be harnessed. Earlier this year Portugal generated all of their energy for a four day period from solar, wind and hydro electric power plants.
During the same week, renewable sources in Germany produced so much energy that for a short period, commercial energy prices turned negative.
And last year, on a particularly windy day, Danish wind farms generated 140% of the country’s total energy consumption.
A spokesperson for the Scottish government commented on this latest renewable success, saying: “Scotland’s abundant energy resources play a vital role in delivering security of electricity supply across the UK. The Scottish Government is committed to supporting onshore wind, which is one of our most cost-effective low-carbon energy technologies.
“We remain fully supportive of low-carbon technologies, which offer a huge economic opportunity for Scotland and have a key role to play in our fight against the threat posed by climate change to our society and natural environment.
“We have a clear policy for an energy mix to provide energy security for the future and will set out our ambitions for an integrated approach to low-carbon technologies within our draft energy strategy later this year. This will include exploring the option of setting a new renewable energy target.”