Scotland’s offshore wind electricity generation capacity could be five times greater by 2030



A report by Aurora Energy Research, in Insider, for the whole of the UK suggests:

‘Offshore wind capacity could increase five-fold by the 2030s, cutting carbon emissions and saving on consumer bills, analysis suggests. The step change in the amount of wind turbines in the seas around Britain’s coasts could be achieved with contracts that by 2025 are effectively zero-subsidy.’

We already know that subsidy costs for renewables generally are falling fast and below those of other forms of generation and presumably heading toward what they mysteriously refer to as ‘effectively zero-subsidy’. See:

Subsidy costs for Scottish off-shore wind and tidal energy farms likely to fall below those needed for new nuclear plants making the latter an even more stupid choice

We also know that 25% of the offshore wind available lies (blows?) in Scottish waters so it seems likely that around a quarter of that overall five-fold increase would be there. See:

Re-opened Scottish dock to build state-of-the-art floating windfarm to begin to exploit Scotland’s 25% share of all of Europe’s offshore wind potential

However, in the light of other knowledge, I’m not clear if Scotland would actually need a five-fold increase given that we are already exporting energy and that we are close to 100% sustainability in the next three years unless, of course, we plan a humungous level of energy exporting to rUK and Europe. Our current overall demand is less than 17GWh



Current supply (September 2017) is 9.7GWh and is projected to reach 21.3GWh before 2020 (see graph above). This suggests oversupply of at least 5GWh which can be exported. Though a relatively modest figure, it can be added to the overall energy exports from Scotland. 73% of all primary energy worth £16 billion is exported to rUK and beyond.

Remember ‘exports’ of energy to rUk are not included in Scotland’s already healthy, and unique in the UK, trade surplus figure.

So, a five-fold increase would be around 100GWh of which Scotland would only require around 17GWh? How much would 83GWh earn?


17 thoughts on “Scotland’s offshore wind electricity generation capacity could be five times greater by 2030

  1. mamaphee January 20, 2018 / 9:58 am

    Love settling down, with my first cup of coffee, to read positive news about Scotland – thank you John!


  2. Ann Forbes January 20, 2018 / 10:53 am

    Have you seen this on – 19 hrs ago ? Am wondering what to make of it .

    Home / Energy / Renewables outstripping infrastructure
    Renewables outstripping infrastructure
    19 hours ago Energy 46 Views

    Image: True British Metal
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    Renewable energy is increasingly incompatible with our energy infrastructure and our economy; and the situation is getting critical.

    It is common knowledge that renewable energy technologies (wind, solar, tidal, etc.) are not “firm.” But firm is exactly how our economy needs energy. In a just-in-time economy, it is extremely difficult for corporations to stop working when the wind stops blowing or to work twice as hard when the sun is shining. The same goes for our households – we need heat and light during the long, dark winter evenings, not during balmy summer days.

    We fully understand the solution to this problem – energy storage. This is not just batteries. Indeed, batteries are likely to be too expensive to resolve grid-level storage issues. It is more likely that pumped hydro will be used. Indeed, as its oil and gas reserves dwindle, Norway is seeking to become Europe’s pumped hydro capital. Various types of flywheels, stored heat and compressed air systems may also have a role to play. But the crucial fact at this stage is that (with the exception of pumped hydro, which is limited to mountainous regions) these storage technologies have yet to be deployed on anything more than an experimental scale. Moreover, it is doubtful that we will have enough materials like lithium and cobalt to go around if at the same time we want them for grid storage we are also going to use them to power cars, ships, trucks and aeroplanes.

    The work around that everyone politely refuses to mention in discussions about renewables is that, for the foreseeable future, they must be backed up with fossil fuel and nuclear generation. The cost of this essential ‘balancing’ generation is not, however, added to the headline price of renewable electricity. Nor is the cost of maintaining the grid infrastructure required to bring the renewable electricity from the remote locations (offshore, in deserts, on top of mountains, etc.) where it is generated to the towns and cities where it is used.

    This sleight of hand has allowed renewable electricity generators to bring headline prices below those of coal and gas. For example, Josh Gabbatiss in the Independent informs us that:

    “Renewable energy will be cheaper than fossil fuels in two years, according to a new report.

    “Experts predict that investment in green infrastructure projects will lead to decreases in the cost of energy for consumers. Continuous technological improvements have led to a rapid fall in the cost of renewable energy in recent years, meaning some forms can already comfortably compete with fossil fuels.

    “The report suggests this trend will continue, and that by 2020 ‘all the renewable power generation technologies that are now in commercial use are expected to fall within the fossil fuel-fired cost range’.”

    This would be great news if grid scale electricity storage was already a thing rather than a poorly-funded project in a university laboratory. As Akshat Rathi, covering the same story for Quartz, points out:

    “Power from solar photovoltaics and the wind are intermittent. So even if the costs of generation fall, other sources of power—typically fossil fuels or nuclear—will be needed to fill in the gaps, and those producers will be able to charge more.

    “Varun Sivaram, an expert in solar power at the Council on Foreign Relations, has shown that intermittent power sources suffer from value deflation as they become more important in the energy mix.”

    Without cost effective grid-scale storage, renewables are like a parasite killing its fossil fuel host. The more widespread they become, the harder they are to accommodate. And behind the greenwash headlines proclaiming that this or that country just generated 100 percent of its power from renewables (which often include unsustainable waste and biofuel burning) is an ongoing collapse in fossil fuel back-up generation.

    In the UK, coal generation has slumped in the face of a government decision to ban coal generation from 2025 – power stations have closed early rather than invest more money; forcing National Grid to pay some operators to stay open. Less obviously, the planned expansion of gas generation (which was to be fuelled in part by fracking) has not happened because of a dearth of investment capital. In part this is driven by fear of a future ban on fossil fuels; in part by the increasing cost of recovering gas in the face of ever cheaper renewables.

    In the USA, something similar appears to be happening despite the Trump Administration’s pro-fossil fuel policies. According to Jon Fingas at Engadget:

    “Renewable energy played an important role in the US last year… although you might not want to cheer too loudly… that’s mainly because fossil fuel power continued to fade away. Electrek noted that plant closures removed 11.8GW of utility-scale fossil fuel power from the equation – this was more a testament to the decline of coal than a triumph for green tech.”

    It is, of course, possible that someone will come up with some new storage technology that can be rapidly deployed at grid scale. But no amount of wishful thinking is going to make that technology materialise overnight. The reality is that renewable electricity and fossil fuel electricity are not separate things; for now at least they are two sides of the same machine. Moreover, allowing renewables to undermine the fossil fuels that allow them to operate is madness until or unless grid scale storage has been deployed.

    As you made it to the end…

    … you might consider supporting The Consciousness of Sheep. There are three ways in which you could help us continue our work. First – and easiest by far – please share and like this article on social media. Second, sign up for our monthly e-mail digest to ensure you do not miss our posts, and to stay up to date with news about Energy, Environment and Economy more broadly. Third, if you enjoy reading our work and feel able, please leave a tip.

    Many thanks.


    • johnrobertson834 January 20, 2018 / 12:51 pm

      Yes, Hydrogen but also offshore wind-farms which virtually never run out of wind.


    • Noel Darlow (@noeldarlow) January 21, 2018 / 4:44 pm

      Technology has progressed very rapidly since the last century. Renewables do not need to be backed up by fossil fuels and/or nuclear. Storage, smart grids with demand management, and import/export to a continental supergrid are quite capable of managing any problems created by intermittency. We could do it without any storage at all – although affordable grid-scale battery storage is well on its way and is ready to be rolled out within the next decade.


    • johnrobertson834 January 20, 2018 / 12:55 pm

      I think they think we pro-renewables fans are sheep – baaah!!!


      • Alasdair Macdonald January 21, 2018 / 3:51 pm

        The nomenclature certainly indicates contempt for the majority of their fellow citizens. I think it probably will be one of these fake news purveyors set up by the ‘climate-change-denier’ groups which are funded by Big Coal, Big Oil, Big Nuclear.

        Hydrogen is one of the obvious ways of storing the energy, as is pumped storage. However, with a reasonable mix of renewables it is likely that some of them will be operating if, for example, there is a sustained period of no wind or severe storm, which takes wind power out for a time. Since the tides continuously circumnavigate Great Britain and Ireland and well designed grid could use this for sustained energy production.

        Coupled to this is better house building and insulation – and the technologies are there and being deployed in places – which will reduce domestic demand, and, coupled with microsystems such as small wind turbines, roof solar panels and ground-source heat pumps, many individual homes or housing estates could be self sufficient. Since cars can be converted to run on hydrogen, they, with electric cars, could reduce carbon based energy demand. Investment in public transport (and Scotland builds good buses) will reduce carbon demand, too.

        Energy economics is far more nuanced than the simplistic presumption of a linear increase going on and on, which Big Carbon wants us to believe, so that we permit things like fracking.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Ann Forbes January 20, 2018 / 1:13 pm

      John , I had a look in my bookmarks and came across this from BBC . Went back in to the sheep website in order to send but no joy . Thanks for the heads up !

      Orkney hydrogen project awarded 2m euros from EU
      29 April 2016
      Share this with Facebook Share this with Twitter Share this with Messenger Share this with Email Share
      Orkney turbine
      A pilot project to develop the use of hydrogen fuel technology in Orkney has been awarded 2m euros of EU funding.
      The initiative – called Big Hit – will see a device which converts electricity to hydrogen fuel being installed.
      This project aims to use an electrolyser to convert excess electricity generated on the islands.
      As part of it, 10 electric vans will be fitted with equipment which means they can use the hydrogen fuel to extend their range.
      Electric van
      ITM Power has received the grant to install the electrolyser.
      Graham Cooley, ITM’s chief executive, said: “Big Hit is a major step in turning the Orkney Islands into a genuine hydrogen territory.”
      Related Topics
      Renewable energyOrkney
      Share this story About sharing

      Liked by 1 person

      • johnrobertson834 January 20, 2018 / 4:12 pm

        They’re not interested in comment? Could be a front for nuclear or coal or oil industry?


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