Scotland Wind Power: 106% Electricity Demand from Wind

by John Brian Shannon

Last Sunday, in the midst of gale force winds, wind farms generated 106% of Scotland’s electricity demand. It wasn’t the first time and it won’t be the last time.

On many other occasions Scotland produces prodigious amounts of electricity via wind power and with more wind turbines being installed every year we should expect this to become a normal occurrence.

“Turbines spread across the land and in the ocean surrounding Scotland provided 39,545 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity to the National Grid on Sunday while the country’s total power consumption for homes, business and industry was 37,202 MWh.

Scotland’s goal of generating 50% of their annual electricity from renewables is on pace to happen a full year early. Scotland also has a goal of 100% renewable electricity by 2020, but it might only get to 87% per some reports. Still – 87% over the course of a year is a powerful value and will probably mean 100% will arrive before 2025.” — Electrek

Both hydro-electric dams and wind turbines in Scotland rely on electricity storage in the form of pumped storage — water pumped back up the hill into the reservoir, allowing that energy to be harvested again.

Scotland wind power Strathdearn pumped-storage hydro scheme. Image courtesy of Scottish Scientist.
Scotland wind power Strathdearn pumped-storage hydro scheme. Image courtesy of Scottish Scientist.

During the nighttime, wind flow across both ocean and land are more constant than during the daylight hours. Conveniently, this is also when electrical demand is lower, allowing surplus electricity during those hours to pump the water back into the reservoir and ready for the sudden demand spike at 7:00am the next morning.

More pumped storage solutions are planned for Scotland as it’s convenient and (especially over the long term) affordable.

Read about Scottish plans to increase pumped storage

More offshore and onshore wind farms, more pumped storage and more hydro-electric dams means that Scotland may reach it’s goal of 50% renewable energy one year early, while the larger goal of 100% renewable energy by 2020 could take up to 2025 to achieve due to regulatory issues.

Still, that’s an amazing accomplishment by any standard. Hats off to Scotland!