Reducing Electricity Costs With Solar Panels and Wind Turbines in Scotland
Scotland's Herald reports that a quiet revolution is sweeping the country. It involves hundreds of schools, community groups and small businesses turning to wind turbines and solar panels to provide their power.
According to new figures, there has been an upsurge in small-scale renewable energy projects, with a 14-fold increase over the past five years. They are supported by the results of a new survey showing that about 70% of Scots would consider installing a renewable energy device in their home. The survey and figures were released after Friday's announcement that Windsave, the Glasgow-based firm, has signed an exclusive agreement with British Gas to install wind turbines on private and local authority-owned properties.
The company sold one of its first rooftop turbines to Brian Wilson, the former energy minister, who installed it on the roof of his home in the west end of Glasgow. Nearly 300 households have already invested in renewable technology, according to figures collated by the Scottish Renewables Forum. They show that the number of communities and businesses turning to green energy has increased from just 19 in 2000 to 273 this year. A further 83 have applied for planning permission.
Although many such projects reflect a concern for the environment, they are also an effective way of cutting fuel bills, according to Scottish Renewables. One school, St John Bosco primary in Erskine, is expecting to save about £6000 a year after installing a wind turbine at Easter.
The devices used range from wind turbines and solar panels to lesser-known technologies such as biomass heating and micro-hydropower systems.
Maf Smith, chief executive of Scottish Renewables, described the growing interest in small-scale renewables as a "quiet revolution sweeping the country".
A survey commissioned by the Scottish Renewables Forum shows it is not only community groups and small businesses that are interested in the potential of renewable energy.
Individual households are also keen, with 92% saying they thought domestic renewable devices were a good idea. It also found that a majority of Scots would consider putting in some sort of renewable device, with solar panels the most popular option. Of the 848 people interviewed by NOP World, 33% said they would consider putting up a wind turbine.
Among the various concerns that might stop householders investing in green energy, the biggest were cost, cited by 33%, and a lack of information which 20% felt was a problem.
Scottish Renewables said groups such as the Scottish Community and Householder Renewables Initiative (SCHRI) and the Energy Savings Trust could help tackle those obstacles to further growth in small-scale projects. Since it was set up in January 2003, the Scottish Executive-funded initiative has awarded about 150 grants worth £3.8m to help community projects and 390 awards, worth £678,000, to households.
The figures show that renewable devices are being installed in schools, businesses, ferry terminals and care homes across Scotland, although the majority are in the Highlands and Islands. The Highlands will have a total of 37 such projects by the end of this year, with biomass and wind the most popular sources of energy.
In Orkney, where there are 33 projects, turbines and heat pumps make up the majority of renewable devices installed, while in the Western Isles, solar panels are the most popular, making up nearly 40% of the total number installed.
"A 14-fold increase in micro-generation by Scottish communities and businesses in five years is a great achievement and it's good to know that many Scottish-designed devices are being used," according to Maf Smith.
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