Scottish wind farms provide enough power for four million homes – but industry warns of job losses

The UK Government is refusing to allow wind and solar – the cheapest forms of electricity – to compete with fossil fuels for long-term power contracts

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The Independent Online

The wind in Scotland was used to generate enough energy to power nearly four million homes in February, according to new figures. There are only about 2.5 million homes in Scotland, so the extra electricity would have been used in other parts of the UK.

The figures were revealed as a survey of Scottish renewable energy companies found the firms expected to shed more than 15 per cent of their current workforce.

An increase in the number of turbines and windier weather saw 43 per cent more electricity produced by windfarms last month, compared to February last year. In total, they provided more than 1,330,000 megawatt hours of electricity. 

Karen Robinson, of WeatherEnergy, which compiled the figures, said: “As we began to witness for the first time last year, this February has also seen a few days where the power output from wind farms exceeded the total electricity demand for an entire day. This is quite an achievement. 

“With the increasing occurrence of ‘100 per cent wind power days’ there can be little doubt that Scotland is well-placed to begin the next step of increasing the role that renewables could play in cutting carbon emissions from its transport and heating sectors.”

Lang Banks, director of WWF Scotland, stressed the importance of wind energy to the Scottish economy and efforts to reduce the greenhouse gases that are causing climate change.

“As well as helping to power our homes and businesses, wind power supports thousands of jobs and helps Scotland to avoid over a million tonnes of polluting carbon emissions every month,” he said.

He urged politicians to do more to help the transition to a low-carbon economy.

“Every one of the main political parties supports the aim of generating half of all Scotland's energy needs from renewables by 2030 – including heat, electricity and transport,” Mr Banks said.

“With this level of political backing, we call upon all of the parties to now bring forward policies that will help maximise the benefits to Scotland's economy, as we transition to a renewable future.”

However, industry body Scottish Renewables warned its members were expecting their workforce to shrink by 16.9 per cent over the next 12 months.

Jenny Hogan, Scottish Renewables’ policy director, said one of the main problems was the UK Government was refusing to allow onshore wind and solar energy to bid against fossil fuel companies for long-term contracts to supply electricity.

“These results show that changes to and closures of support schemes are having an impact on our members and on the numbers of employees within their businesses,” she said.

“The UK Government is rightly excited about the economic opportunities presented by the impacts of the global shift to low-carbon energy, but it's really important we don’t forget about the jobs in our renewable energy sector today.

“Onshore wind and solar are the two cheapest forms of electricity, but ministers are refusing to allow them to access long-term contracts for power, which will result in a marked slowdown in investment and a decrease in employment, as our survey has suggested.”

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