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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Scotland to Achieve 100% Homegrown Green Power by 2025

The City of Colton now has three municipal buildings running mostly on solar and wind power. That's no small achievement.

But here's something to really put the wind under your kilt: Scotland plans to get all of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025. All of it:

"Scotland has unrivalled green energy resources and our new national target to generate 80 percent of electricity needs from renewables by 2020 will be exceeded by delivering current plans for wind, wave and tidal generation," [First Minister Alex] Salmond said.

"I'm confident that by 2025 we will produce at least 100 percent of our electricity needs from renewables alone, and together with other sources it will enable us to become a net exporter of clean, green energy," he said a statement ahead of a renewable energy investment conference.

Last week, Scotland raised its 2020 renewable electricity target from 50 to 80 percent of total demand, much of which is expected to be met by offshore wind despite costs soaring over the last few years [Daniel Fineren, "Scotland to get 100 pct green energy by 2025," Reuters, 2010.09.29].

Perspective on American wimipiness on renewable energy:
  • South Dakota's renewable energy "standard" is a fluffball paperwork charade that gently asks South Dakota's utilities to get 10% of the electricity they sell from renewable sources by 2015 or to write a letter saying they won't.
  • Our national lawmakers think it's a big deal to work for passage of a 15% renewable energy standard by 2021.
Bonus Green Power Note: Wind and other renewable energy projects are great, but switching to electric cars would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on foreign oil even more. So let's do both! Get Tesla to set up a factory just outside of Colton, and juice it with wind power from Iberdrola's proposed Minnehaha West Wind Project!


  1. Kelly Fuller9/30/2010 10:08 AM

    For a moment I thought you meant Scotland, SD.

  2. Yes, Scotland country, not Scotland town. But hey: if Colton can do it, so can Scotland, SD!

  3. Maybe South Dakota could set a goal of producing more energy than it consumes by, say, 2030. We have a lot of wind and sun here! Maybe we could form a corporation and sell discounted stock shares to citizens.

    Now for the rain on the parade! Cory, you state the following:

    Wind and other renewable energy projects are great, but switching to electric cars would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on foreign oil even more.

    I read the article to which you link. My questions:

    From where would we get the electricity for those cars, if not from wind, solar, or other renewable sources?

    How many kilowatt hours of electrical energy will move an electric car, say, 100 miles?

    How much greenhouse gas would the coal-fired power plant (in my case, with Black Hills Power) emit in the process of generating that electricity?

    How would those emissions compare to the emissions from the amount of gasoline necessary to drive the car the same distance?

    How much would the electricity cost me, compared with the gasoline, for the same results?

    Engineers more knowledgeable than myself prowl this site. Input, please?

  4. Oh now I see, after a re-read. Cory, kudos: Your plan does use wind power to charge up those cars! The article is not so explicit, however.

    It seems to me -- maybe I'm missing something but it makes intuitive sense to my addled brain -- that if you burn coal to get electricity to charge a car battery to drive an electric motor to make the car go 100 miles, you would do better, in terms of overall emissions, to put a coal-burning steam engine in that car and chugalug down the Interstate that way.

    Back to the original idea: I'd love to see this state pioneer wind and solar energy, based on a private-enterprise model. Maybe we'll get some "Reborn Republicans" who see the light (pun intended, I guess). I'm confident that our state government won't attempt any such thing in the foreseeable future.

  5. Stan, as usual, I appreciate your thoughtful questions.

    Certainly, it will behoove us to get as much energy for our electric cars from wind, solar, and other no/low-emission sources (maybe even nuclear... and eventually fusion!). But even if the electricity comes from fossil fuel plants, I've heard (maybe Tony Amert made this argument) that we can more easily and efficiently control the emissions (scrub the sulfur dioxide; capture the carbon dioxide?) from a central power plant than we can from 100,000 tailpipes.

    Scientific American offers this mostly positive assessment in favor of electric cars. Lots of variables are involved, but they calculate your cost equivalent for the electric car would be like paying 75 cents a gallon for gasoline. They cite a 2005 study that says we could swap 3/4 of our small car fleet to electric power without having to build more power plants. They also contend that the greenhouse gas footprint will be smaller as power plants adopt more green tech. The commenters, as one might expect, bring up some good points of opposition, such as concern about the financial and environmental cost of building, replacing, and disposing of batteries.

  6. Stan and gang, feel like zipping over here and leaving a comment?


  7. Well, Larry, I tried to create an account at the Rapid City Journal site, but it wouldn't let me. The problem likely arose from my restrictive Google Chrome settings, which I will not compromise.

    I'll check your Web site out, and if I think I have any rants worth putting in, I'll do it, in between multiple book projects, which keep me from getting into trouble.

    I was rather curious after reading your generalizations about the Northern Hills. I've been here since 2004, and "Lone Eagle" certainly describes me! For that reason, I suppose, I remain ignorant of many of the ingrained prejudices of the locals. I do know that some residents of Lead seem to carry a strange, powerful grudge toward Deadwood, making me feel almost guilty when I find that I like both towns!

    I see no point in such resentments; together we stand. But then, I am a carpetbagger, a sort of space alien. I have this attitude of "Life is so bloomin' short ..." If the locals think I have weird hair or eyes or fingernails or something, not to mention a weird purview, they have not yet told me, and I don't want to know.

    South Dakota has enormous potential; I'd like to see private enterprise discover us. In time I think they will, especially if the larger cities and coastal areas drift toward civil war, as some of my colleagues fear they might. No blood will ever flow in the streets of Belle Fourche. But wind turbines will someday spin there, and solar panels will bask under the pellucid October sky...

  8. Thank you, Stan; follow-up post now. Cory has been good enough to leave a comment.

  9. [hooray for principled browser settings!]

    Keeep nudging your Belle Fourche neighbors toward those solar panels, Stan! Just don't give them the isntructions in Russian. ;-)


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