This Week in Brexit: What Scotland Missed

by John Brian Shannon | Reposted from

Congratulations to Prime Minister Theresa May for working out a ‘confidence and supply’ agreement with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to allow the present minority Tory government to continue in office.

Theresa May strikes ‘confidence and supply’ deal with DUP

And congratulations to DUP leader Arlene Foster for negotiating so well on behalf of her jurisdiction, thereby gaining £1.5 billion in additional infrastructure and other funding.

That’s a ‘Win-Win’ for the Tories and for the Democratic Unionist Party — and more importantly (sorry, Theresa and Arlene!) it’s a ‘Win-Win’ for residents of Northern Ireland.

Theresa May signs ‘£1.5 billion’ deal with the DUP

Infrastructure in Northern Ireland is in bad shape and the funding appears at an opportune moment, as there comes a point when it becomes cheaper to tear down a bridge (for example) than to pay ever-increasing maintenance costs.

The same is true for all infrastructure. Whether roads, bridges, hospitals, schools, airports, or the underground infrastructure that carries water to homes and businesses, all of it has a ‘best before’ date where leaving vital infrastructure spending for too long can cost more than the savings of not doing the work.

The Conservative/DUP deal: what it says and what it means

Of course, £1.5 billion isn’t going to fix it all. But I wouldn’t be surprised if two years of successful DUP ‘confidence and supply’ support gets the residents of Northern Ireland additional infrastructure spending allocations, courtesy of DUP leader Arlene Foster and Prime Minister Theresa May.

And why not? Arlene Foster prevented a divisive and perhaps extended Parliamentary crisis — one that would’ve prevented much good from being done in the United Kingdom.

Speaking of which; See how infrastructure spending is increasing in Northern Ireland, and how it isn’t in Scotland? Not only additional spending, but PM May and DUP leader Foster also negotiated more devolved powers for Northern Ireland.

NOTE to Nicola: It’s great to have a particular ideology, but when it costs your jurisdiction £1.5 billion in the form of missed infrastructure funding, it’s time to review what you think you’re accomplishing!

Loss of opportunity is also a metric by which UK leaders must be measured — it certainly is for heads of government everywhere else — and not as much as it should be, but it’s still an important marker of successful leadership.

Nicola Sturgeon of Scotland’s SNP missed the boat. Arlene Foster of Northern Ireland’s DUP didn’t. And UK Prime Minister Theresa May begins to look like a bit of a deal-maker, which can only be viewed as a good thing as we head into Brexit. Well done, Theresa!

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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!

Scotland Powers 960,000 Homes via Wind Power

According to a report from the Scottish Government
wind farms generated record amounts of power in the first quarter of 2015.

The same report confirms record levels of renewable energy generation were achieved in the country throughout 2014, with almost half of all electricity demand met via renewable energy generators.

Ardrossan, Scotland wind farm
Wind generated record amounts of power in Q1 of 2015. Statistics also confirm 50% of all demand was met via renewable energy in 2014. Ardrossan, Scotland wind farm image courtesy of Vincent van Zeijst – Own work, CC BY 3.0.

Wind Power
in Scotland

Wind power is Scotland’s fastest growing renewable energy technology, with 5328 MW of installed capacity as of March 2015. This includes 5131 MW of onshore wind and 197 MW of offshore wind.

There is further potential for expansion, especially offshore given the high average wind speeds, and a number of large offshore wind farms are planned.

The Scottish Government has a target of generating 50% of Scotland’s electricity from renewable energy by 2015, and 100% by 2020, which was raised from 50% in September 2010.

The majority of this new energy capacity will come from wind power. — Wikipedia

If Scotland meets it’s planned target of 100% renewable energy generation in 2020, it will join a growing list of foresighted nations that are powered by clean energy.