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Scottish Power switches to 100% wind power

Scottish Power switches to 100% wind power

Scottish Power, one of the UK’s ‘Big Six’ energy firms, has made a bold move into a 100% renewable energy future by selling its remaining gas power stations to Drax in a deal worth £702m. The total deal includes four gas power stations in England, two hydropower schemes and a pump storage station in Scotland, leaving Scottish Power with a 100% wind power portfolio.

The company’s customers will be supplied with a mixture of green and brown energy as the transition takes place, but the provider will eventually replace all fossil fuel energy with renewable alternatives. Key to this will be the East Anglia One offshore wind farm which will be the world’s largest when it opens in 2020.

Scottish Power’s parent company Iberdrola stated that the move was part of a long term strategy to tackle climate change and it would now be freer to invest further into renewable technologies and energy generation.

Keith Anderson, the chief executive of Scottish Power, said of the move: “We are leaving carbon generation behind for a renewable future powered by cheaper green energy.”

Whilst it is important to bear in mind that the gas plants sold by Scottish Power will continue to operate and produce emissions under another company’s flag, rather than being decommissioned completely, the move to sell is certainly a positive one.

It has been known for a long time that the fossil fuel industry is aware the future is renewable and green but has chosen to delay that transition for monetary gain. However, if a giant like Scottish Power has decided to make the transition then it is likely that others will follow. The wind of change is blowing in only one direction and the writing is on the wall for fossil fuels.

And in fact it appears that Scottish Power is so excited by its renewable future that it has decided to move into solar energy for the very first time to supplement its commitment to wind.

Anderson said of solar power: “The solar market has had difficulties over the last wee while. But you look at where the technology cost is getting to and the possibilities of integrating it with wind … how it balances from season to season wind and solar output, and we see a good opportunity there for further investment.”

This is potentially game changing news for the UK solar energy market. The sector has stalled thanks to government subsidies being removed for no real reason and badly needs a shot in the arm. Up to now the solar market has been the preserve of smaller firms, and it can be hoped that the entrance of a ‘Big Six’ energy company will push prices down and proliferate the technology at a rate which has so far been beyond us.

Anderson continued: “We need to invest in the cheapest forms of energy – that’s onshore wind, offshore wind, it’s going to be solar – and that will help drive down the cost of energy.

“Look at the IPCC report last week. My absolute belief is that organisations need to be at the forefront of that change. We can’t be part of the problem, we have to be part of the solution.”

It is encouraging to hear words like this combined with actual action from a person in a position to make a difference, and Scottish Power has confirmed that it will be bidding in the next round of government subsidies for offshore wind farms which will total £557m in 2019 on top of beginning its investment into solar power.

Plans are in place to develop further capacity off the coast of East Anglia which will dwarf even the largest currently operational offshore farms and further cement the UK’s leadership in this market; Scottish Power’s proposed East Anglia Three will be almost twice as large at 1,200 MW as the current leader off the Cumbrian coast which has a capacity of 659MW. East Anglia Three will be able to power 900,000 homes on completion.

Every month seems to bring new confirmation that renewable energy is arriving at a speed we perhaps don’t appreciate. Scottish Power is rightfully earning plaudits for being among the first big movers but the time is coming when every energy company will have to make a similar move. The time to back renewable energy is now.

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