Scotland is now generating the equivalent of around 60% of its annual electricity needs from renewable, mostly wind, and is aiming for 100%, with new nuclear blocked unilaterally. So it is a little surprising that there have not been more studies of this unique initiative. That’s soon to change with a new book, ‘A critical review of Scottish Energy Policy’ by a group of Scottish academics edited by Geoff Wood and Keith Baker, to be published Palgrave next month. It focuses on renewables and low carbon options and related policy, planning, legislation and regulation issues. The overwhelming message is that, despite the endless debate about whether renewables can work large scale, here’s a country actually doing it. Some of the criticism are simply due to disbelief that renewables like wind energy (now the dominant renewable in Scotland) can work on a large scale, without massive backup, beyond what is likely to be available. It is certainly true that the UK governments decision to abandon the £1bn Carbon Capture and Storage programme (including the Peterhead project) removes the potential for a lower carbon approach to continued fossil fuel use, and arguably would make the use of gas plants for backup less attractive, given their unabated emissions. But then high-cost CCS probably wouldn’t have made sense with flexible gas peaking plants- which would only operate occasionally to back up renewables. In any case, in addition to hydro pumped storage, and power imports balanced by exports, there are other low carbon supply/demand balancing options, including Combined Heat and Power/district heating networks linked to heat stores and smart grid demand response systems, all of which Scotland is looking at, as this book notes.
Environment Research Blog 22nd July 2017 read more »