By Joel, Jones-Lapsley
A ten-minute look at renewable energy in Scotland. What exactly is renewable energy, why do we use it and what does Scotland’s energy future look like.
Coal Action Scotland will host a talk from the president of the Federation of Communities Displaced by Mining in La Guajira at the Autonomous Centre of Edinburgh this Sunday.
President Julio Cesar Gomez will be in the UK to speak out against the expansion of Cerrejón, located in the La Guajira Department in North Columbia. The mine – Cerrejón is one of the largest open cast coalmines in the world and is owned by three UK registered multinational firms including BHP Bilton, which is listed on the Financial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE) and the London Stock Exchange.
Scotland has had its own debates with coal recently as protesters challenged Scottish Coal’s decision to extend a site in Douglas Valley, South Lanarkshire. Scottish Coal plans to extract up to one million tonnes from Broken Cross North Extension Surface Mine.
David Grey of Coal Action Scotland said that the application “goes against the results of the Public Inquiry, and contradicts planning policy that states that no community must suffer more than ten years of mining operations. This application will mean that extensions alone at Broken Cross will go on for at least 16 years, and even that won’t be the end of it.”
Last week environmental groups lost a legal battle with Ayrshire Power opposing the construction of a £3 billion coal-fuelled power station in Hunterston, Ayrshire while in Newcastle the building site of a 21st century science park may be subject to digging. 60,000 tonnes of coal are believed to be beneath the area; this would be the first coal mined in Newcastle in over 50 years.
Scottish Resources Group, the parent company of Scottish Coal announced a 90% drop in profits (£28.6m– £2.4m) in the year ending 26th March.
The Guardian reported that Scotland holds one tenth of Europe’s coal as of February 2009. The newspaper also stated that Edinburgh ministers perceive coal as a green energy and along with Alex Salmond, published a climate change bill vowing to “reduce Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050.” NASA climate scientist Jim Hansen has openly called the policy introduced by Salmond, a “sham”.
The most recent development has been the Scottish Government’s announcement to demolish the coal-fuelled power station at Cockenzie, East Lothian. The station will be re-built, utilizing a gas turbine which will greatly reduce emissions. Dr Dan Barlow of WWF Scotland opposed the construction telling the BBC that “A new fossil-fuelled power plant operating at just over 50% efficiency has absolutely no place in Scotland’s power sector.”
Renewable energy is slowly developing in the country despite Scottish hydro production dropping by a third due to low rainfall. The crown estate have approved the development of a wave farm off the island of Benrena from Pelamis Wave Power while Clyde wind farm in South Lanarkshire, already one of the largest in Europe, is to be extended to include over 200 wind turbines.
The World Coal Association estimates that there is enough coal “to last us around 118 years at the current rate of production.” Oil and gas reserves are estimated to last around 46 and 59 years respectively.