Are wind and water viable energy source alternatives to fossil fuels for Scotland?
Last month, on 28th January 2015, Scotland’s government announced they will indefinitely block hydraulic fracturing (fracking) consents on their soil until further research and a public consultation is carried out. This type of energy resource gave the USA energy independence in recent years, and created jobs. But, it could have adverse effects on the environment. For example, the wastewater used for fracking needs to be carefully disposed as it contains heavy metals, high salinity and natural radioactive elements. Scotland has the advantage of possessing wind and water resources to take turn after its petrol reservoirs run out.
2015 marks the tenth year anniversary of the enforcement of the Kyoto protocol when governments around the world agreed on binding targets to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. One of the necessary changes agreed upon was to use cleaner energy alternatives. The transition is incremental in order to not disrupt countries’ social, economical and environmental sustainability. In the UK, the Department of Energy and Climate Change have committed a £200 million fund for competitive low-carbon technologies between 2011 and 2015. By 2020, Scotland is planning on 100% of its gross annual electricity consumption to be sourced from renewable energy.
Scotland possesses the largest wind turbine park in the UK, Whitelee Windfarm. Thanks to its 215 turbines it generates up to 539 megawatts (MW) of electricity for its biggest city, Glasgow; enough to power about 300,000 homes. Accross the UK, there are 4,000 operational wind turbines, half of which are in Scotland.
Scotland is also rich of its in-land streams and sea coasts. In Scotland alone, there is enough marine energy to supply more than the whole of Scotland in electricity. A 2012 report from the Crown Estate found that Scottish waters offer most of the UK’s wave resources, 46 terawatthour/year (TWh/year) out of 69TWh/year. The Scottish Government has established a new innovation and development body, Wave Energy Scotland, which is in charge of accelerating the development of marine technologies. Besides, some dams that did not support hydroelectric facilities are now being equipped with turbines to generate electricity.
Whether renewable energy can participate in reducing carbon dioxide emissions seems highly feasible. Since it is a source of energy that is always there, it is a good investment from governments for the foreseeable future.
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