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Government The Almighty Buck Politics

Half of Scotland's Energy Consumption Came From Renewables Last Year (heraldscotland.com) 218

An anonymous reader quotes an article on Herald Scotland: Scotland has met a key target for renewable energy consumption, according to official figures. Statistics published by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change show 57.7% of Scottish electricity consumption came from renewables in 2015 -- 7.7% ahead of the 50% target. The SNP welcomed the figures and pledged to bring forward plans to go further if re-elected in May. Deputy First Minister and SNP campaign director John Swinney said: "The SNP have long championed green energy and these new figures show the huge progress we have made - but we are determined to go even further.
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Half of Scotland's Energy Consumption Came From Renewables Last Year

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  • Wrong title (Score:5, Informative)

    by MarcDuflot ( 701877 ) on Monday April 04, 2016 @02:46PM (#51840397) Homepage
    Half of Scotland's ELECTRICITY Consumption Came From Renewables Last Year
    • Even this interpretation is misleading. What actually occurred was that total renewable electrical energy generated in Scotland exceeded half of electrical energy consumed.

      Scotland does not have indigenous demand sufficient to consume its electricity generation; about 35% of its electricity generation is exported to England. About 2% of electricity demand is imported from England during periods of low wind generation.
    • Half of Scotland's electricity production came from renewables.

      The consumption came from deep fat fryers and the Irn Bru factory, obviously.

  • by number17 ( 952777 ) on Monday April 04, 2016 @02:48PM (#51840417)
    The summary has more words than the article. I had to check because I wasn't sure if renewables consumed or generated half of Scotland's Energy.
    • Considering that Scotland produces very little electricity from oil that is not an issue. Most of there electricity from non-renewable sources comes from coal and nuclear.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by SuperKendall ( 25149 )

      That's what they said 20 years ago about today re: oil.

      As technology advances we'll always find new ways to get at oil. Even if it's grinding up seagulls for whatever surface oil has stuck to feathers.

      In reality there is no "peak oil", eventually solar will get good enough to replace many uses of oil, and the stigma against nuclear energy will fade much as children grow up to no longer be scared of monsters in the closet.

      • As technology advances we'll always find new ways to get at oil.

        We are using oil faster than we are finding new sources, a temporary blip in shale oil notwithstanding.

        In reality there is no "peak oil", eventually solar will get good enough to replace many uses of oil,

        While I'm a big fan of solar, we're still a long way away. Solar is not even close to being a viable substitute for transportation fuel right now, and we'll need to move quickly if we want to get there before hitting peak oil.

        • We are using oil faster than we are finding new sources

          Irrelevant, because at some point LONG before we run out of relatively easy to extract oil, we'll be using mostly solar and nuclear power in various ways (wind energy being an idiotic idea that comes and goes in brief waves).

          • Irrelevant, because at some point LONG before we run out of relatively easy to extract oil,we'll be using mostly solar and nuclear power in various ways

            If not for shale oil, we'd be running out of easy oil right now. And shale oil has fairly dramatic per-well depletion rates so it's not going to help for very long. Like I said, electric is not anywhere near being a viable replacement.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 )

        There is a peak for every non renewable resource at a certain cost.

        Once alternatives are found for that non-renewable resource then demand for it at the higher prices will collapse.

        There is plenty of gold available at $10,000 per oz. But we'll probably never mine it.

        Alternative energy and electric cars are collapsing the maximum price of oil. There may be lots of oil available at $200 a barrel-- but we may never collect it.

      • by dbIII ( 701233 )

        In reality there is no "peak oil"

        There is, but it's about liquid oil - not tar, shale, gas or whatever.
        People like to take a technical term about a bump on a graph of oil production over time and stick that label on their own personal strawmen and then use that to ridicule people who are actually using it as a technical term.
        If you want say there is no "peak energy", then fine, but liquid oil is getting harder to find and extract over time so the statements from 20 years ago still hold, so please don't get

        • liquid oil is getting harder to find and extract over time

          Are you sure? It seems like the technology to find and extract said oil is improving quite rapidly.

          Also oil companies are sitting on a lot of deposits they already had found but just didn't have the technology to access before, so as the tech improves you have reserves to tap you do't even have to find.

          • by dbIII ( 701233 )

            Are you sure?

            Yes. I'm in the resource exploration industry. Over the last few years we've been reprocessing a lot of seismic data from as far back as the 1970s to apply a bit more computer power than was worth it at the time to see what was missed. Some stuff was never format shifted so there's hundreds of boxes of tape on reels around the place.

            but just didn't have the technology to access before

            Normally because the technology was expensive to develop, hence "harder" above.

      • by Viol8 ( 599362 )

        "As technology advances we'll always find new ways to get at oil. Even if it's grinding up seagulls for whatever surface oil has stuck to feathers"

        Eventually it'll take the same or more energy to extract and refine oil than can be recovered from it. At that point the oil era is over.

  • Whiskey is more or less renewable, so that follows.
  • Sharp readers will notice that the summary contradicts the headline, then makes a meaningless calculation, dividing apples by oranges.

    First, as is typical of green fluff pieces, they conflate energy with electricity. Electricity accounts for about 35% of Ireland's energy usage. If renewables provided half of the -electricity-, that would be 17% of the -energy-.

    Secondly, they've improperly conflated consumption with production. You could produce terawatts of energy in the summer and use to heat molten salt

    • Thanks for checking. I started looking but the data was hard to come by, and the available data was often vague. They seem to hide the critical numbers, like simply stating total Scottish consumption in TWH for the year.

      One other thing they don't account for in the article or summary is actual imports and exports. They are part of the UK grid system, and sometimes when local renewable generation percentage is high it does not always happen at a time of high local usage. Overall, the total UK percentage b
    • people wanted to continue to use more energy, but couldn't do so with the same paycheck.
      That is complete bollocks.
      Price increases are far far far less than the cost of a pint of Guiness in the next best pub.

    • Electricity consumption has dropped by 15% as prices have increased over the last five years in order to pay for the more-expensive renewables. If we add back the 15% of electricity people wanted but weren't able to use because it was too expensive, we get 35% of 35% = 12% of Ireland's energy needs were matched by their renewable production.

      Sharp readers would notice that the article is about Scotland, not Ireland.

      Are you seriously suggesting that, after electricity demand dropped 15%, the suppliers did

      • > Are you seriously suggesting that, after electricity demand dropped 15%, the suppliers did not reduce electricity generation?

        No, I'm saying that smashing your car will reduce your C02 footprint. HOWEVER, it will also leave you without transportation, and any judgement about policies should recognize that cost.

        Let's try this again. It's about the difference between energy demand (what people need/want/used to have) versus what they got after the market was artificially limited.

        Pretend the government shu

        • Did you consider that perhaps people can change their habits so that they need less energy? You assume a fixed demand, but as energy prices rise, it becomes more cost effective to spend money on things like home insulation.

          Real demand is not a fixed number, it changes in response to price fluctuations. Your scenario where the "natural consumption" is unchanged when prices change is unrealistic.

          Also, Ireland?

          • > Did you consider that perhaps people can change their habits so that they need less energy?

            If I smash your car, you CAN walk, and it'll reduce CO2, so let's do that. Yes, people will find a way to survive a 15%-20% power cut, but ignoring that cost is error. Half of energy usage is transportation, so when energy is less affordable, that actually means people go fewer places - some skip their summer vacation, etc.

            You say people can buy more insulation. Okay, let's pretend that doubling all of the ins

    • Electricity accounts for about 35% of Ireland's energy usage.

      ...12% of Ireland's energy needs...

      The story is about Scotland, not Ireland. Are the numbers you looked up for Ireland or Scotland?

      • I don't recall which I looked at before, but for both countries the majority of their energy isn't electricity.
        Specifically, both are similar in that they use significant energy for heating, whereas some countries don't. Details for each can be found at www.eaia.gov.

        Because they are neighbors geographically, they're working within the same parameters as far as the availability of geothermal, hydro, wind, solar, etc. Within that envelope, they can trade reliability and cost for "political greeness" in roughl

    • by gsslay ( 807818 )

      Really sharp readers would have noticed that the summary is talking about Scotland, not Ireland.

  • by Billy the Mountain ( 225541 ) on Monday April 04, 2016 @03:14PM (#51840593) Journal
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] Wind, wave and tide make up more than 80% of Scotland's renewable energy. They are considering nuclear as renewable in the 57% figure.
    • Nuclear is not renewable - once the isotopes are gone, they're gone.
      It is carbon-free though, which is what they really care about.

  • That's how many people live in Scotland. For comparison's sake, the State of California in the U.S. has just under 39 million. Therefore, as much as I like the Scots and Scotland, I'm not terribly impressed by half of their energy coming from renewables.
    • by Layzej ( 1976930 )
      California hopes to have 50% of their electricity from renewables by 2030. [cleantechnica.com] If Scotland has already achieved this then it is likely California lacks ambition.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        California hopes to have 50% of their electricity from renewables by 2030. If Scotland has already achieved this then it is likely California lacks ambition.

        Here in California, we shit ambition and wipe with the non-believers. Just take a look at our proposed high speed rail line! Nobody said we had the money to make anything happen, though. But anyway, wind farms kill birds, so PETA will fights those. We're out of water, so hydro is no go. Solar? The hippies up north will cry if we trap the spirit of mother Gaia for our selfish needs. Wave generators? Save the whales! Nukes? Jesus Christ, haven't you been listening? And thus it always goes around here. So much

    • by ledow ( 319597 )

      It's also extremely windy, extremely empty (that's one of its highlights), has only concentrated centres of population (so you don't have to transport stuff very far to serve a lot of people), and approves huge fields of on-shore and off-shore wind turbines (several high profile projects there).

      There's probably exactly 0% solar, to be honest.

      Outside the major cities, up in the Highlands, you will literally struggle to find a petrol station and/or a pub that has an Internet connection at all. But you'll pas

  • Without some measure of the carbon output this metric is relatively meaningless. Imagine two countries with a goal to reduce their carbon emissions. Both start with nearly all of their electricity from coal.

    The first nation replaces half of the coal plants with windmills, hydro electric dams, solar panels, and geothermal. They see their carbon footprint cut in half.

    The second nation converts all the coal plants to burn natural gas. They also see their carbon footprint cut in half. At the same time thei

    • ...and they don't have bird killing windmills and solar panels.

      If your photovoltaic panels are killing birds, you probably wired grid power to the frames. Don't do that.

      • Birds confuse the shiny panels for water and collide with them thinking they'd get a soft slash instead. They tend to injure themselves and cannot take off again.

        When shiny these panels can confuse them in many ways leading them to collide with them, making them think the sun isn't where it should be, and if in large expanses the panels can concentrate the sun and set them on fire. No, I am not confusing them with solar concentrators, the photovoltaic panels can do this too.

        A certain kind of photovoltaic

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )

      Imagine a third nation, they replace their coal plants with nuclear power.

      What do you do to follow demand? It's not a square wave, it's a curve. You need little units to fill in the gaps and nuclear doesn't do those well at the moment.
      Don't just think in boolean - get real :)

      Energy monocultures suck and are usually only promoted by salesfolk and deluded fanboys.

      By using breeder reactors and fuel reprocessing the amount of nuclear waste produced is the size of a beer can per gigawatt-year.

      If you wish to a

      • What do you do to follow demand? It's not a square wave, it's a curve. You need little units to fill in the gaps and nuclear doesn't do those well at the moment.

        Nothing prevents a nuclear power plant from load following except the current use of steam turbines. Use a Brayton cycle turbine and that problem goes away.
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

        Don't just think in boolean - get real :)

        We can have equipment to compensate for the reactive power factor too.

        Energy monocultures suck and are usually only promoted by salesfolk and deluded fanboys.

        I propose a nation powered only by nuclear power only as a thought experiment. While I do believe that a nation could derive all utility power from nuclear reactors I also realize that doing so is not likely practical. I also believe that a nation l

        • by dbIII ( 701233 )

          Nothing prevents a nuclear power plant from load following except the current use of steam turbines

          If you can teleport the steam directly from the reactor core to the turbines, indeed, but instead of going into the realms of SF I suggest you look up "thermal fatigue" to find out THE REASON WHY load following is rarely done with thermal power stations. It's often desirable to be able to use the generating unit next week after all.

          I've seen some very interesting TED Talks

          Oh dear.

        • by dbIII ( 701233 )

          We can have equipment to compensate for the reactive power factor too.

          Please read what I wrote above and try again. The clue is the question "What do you do to follow demand" - nothing to do with the solved problem of power factor.

        • by dbIII ( 701233 )

          Natural gas has properties that makes it nearly ideal for generating electricity and poor for most anything else

          Heating, fertilizer and a very handy precursor for a lot of petrochemical products. If you want hydrogen (or ammonia afterwards) it's still the easiest way to get it.

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