Scottish Renewables Writes to Donald Trump

Last week, Niall Stuart, the Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables wrote to US tycoon Donald Trump regarding his statements on renewables and wind power over recent months.

Scottish Renewables is the representative body for the renewable energy industry in Scotland, representing more than 300 organisations and companies working in the sector. I am writing in response to your numerous statements on renewables and wind power over recent months.

 First of all, the people of Scotland and the UK do not oppose wind power, with a number of polls showing a large majority favouring the continuing growth of the sector as we change the way we generate electricity in order to tackle climate change emissions from coal and gas generation. Wind power is making an important contribution to energy security, reducing our dependence on imports of fossil fuels. This in turn is protecting consumers from the massive volatility in international gas prices which is responsible for more than 60 per cent of the rise in electricity bills over the last seven years.

 Secondly, wind is not destroying the environment or our tourism sector. All wind developments go through a rigorous planning process, which assesses their compliance with strict environmental regulations. There is no evidence that wind farms are having an impact on tourist visitors to Scotland, and indeed, renewable energy sites across Scotland are becoming tourist attractions in their own right. For example, Whitelee Wind Farm, the largest onshore site in Europe, attracts three times as many visitors each year as the Scott Monument in Edinburgh.

 Thirdly, wind energy is neither inefficient nor unreliable. Last year, all forms of renewables met 35 per cent of electricity demand in Scotland, with wind accounting for more than half of all the renewable electricity generated. Wind output is predictable and is managed by the National Grid, and turbines are assets with a 20 to 25 year lifespan, not five years as you suggest. Scotland is the windiest country in Europe and there is a clear economic and environmental case for us to harness this plentiful and valuable natural resource.

 In terms of cost, onshore wind is now comparable to the output of nuclear, and a Bloomberg New Energy Finance has stated that onshore wind will reach parity with fossil fuels by 2016. Offshore wind is still in an early stage of development, but the industry is focused on an aggressive cost-cutting strategy that will drive down costs to the consumer. Much has been made of the financial support for renewables, but tax breaks for the oil and gas industry and the public sector bill for nuclear decommissioning both massively exceed the annual cost of the Renewables Obligation.

 Contrary to your assertion that ‘jobs will not be created’ in Scotland, more than 11,000 people are employed in Scotland in the renewable energy industry. This figure is likely to grow rapidly, with major international companies, including Mitsubishi, Samsung and Gamesa, committed to bringing manufacturing to Scotland. The wind power industry has invested hundreds of millions of pounds annually in the Scottish economy and will continue to do so for many years to come. The renewable energy sector has the potential to regenerate and re-energise local economies across Scotland, including your mother’s home island of Lewis, after many years of relative decline.

 Wind power is also financing investment in technology and grid infrastructure which will underpin the growth of Scotland’s world leading wave and tidal energy as it gears up to commercial scale later this decade.

 And contrary to your statement that other countries are ‘abandoning’ wind power, targets for renewables are increasing, with the European Union now committed to a new target and further growth of wind power and other renewables between 2020 and 2030.

 Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of your intervention in this debate is that at no stage have you recognised that no country in the world can continue to generate, distribute and use energy the way we do today. Renewable energy is one of the few ways in which we can power our economies and lifestyles while responding to the moral, economic and environmental imperative of reducing carbon emissions.

 Despite the attacks from The Trump Organization on wind power generally, we are very confident about the future for our industry, both at home and abroad. Indeed, we would very much like to invite you and your colleagues to meet with some of our members and to consider the opportunity of investing in and being part of the success of Scotland’s renewable energy sector, which is now key part of our energy mix and an increasingly important part of our economy.

[mappress]

Offshore WIND staff, April 16, 2012

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