Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Liz Miller
Observer Staff Writer 

Scotland Met 106% of Energy Needs with Wind on August 7

Country has EU's biggest oil reserve, but pledges 100% renewable by 2020

 

August 19, 2016

Wind turbines have proven their worth in Scotland.

Scotland has the European Union's biggest oil reserve, but they have pledged to use only 100% renewable sustainability for energy by the year 2020.

Any doubts about their plans disappeared on August 7, when an unusual storm sent gale-force winds gusting across the small country. Although generally only providing a part of Scotland's energy, the weather front kicked their wind farms into overdrive, and by day's end the turbines had produced 106% of their total energy needs.

Yes, that's right: in less than 24 hours wind, alone, provided more than enough power for everything that everyone wanted to do in an entire country.

On a more typical day in Scotland, the country still uses nuclear for 33% of their needs, and fossil fuel generation for 28%, but they are investing heavily and rapidly in a diverse collection of renewable sources. Besides wind, they use solar, hydro, and tidal generators.

That sustainable energy future of Scotland is completely attainable in the next four years, and, as an added bonus, the change to renewability has created over 21,000 jobs.

This is the kind of thing that happens when the government actually works for the people instead of working for the oil companies.

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How do alternate energy source work?

A wind turbine works the opposite of a fan. Instead of using electricity to make wind, like a fan, wind turbines use wind to make electricity. The wind turns the blades, which spin a shaft, which connects to a generator and makes electricity.

The terms wind energy or wind power describe the process by which the wind is used to generate mechanical power or electricity. Wind turbines convert the kinetic energy in the wind into mechanical power. This mechanical power can be used for specific tasks (such as grinding grain or pumping water) or a generator can convert this mechanical power into electricity.

Hydro and tidal turbines work in essentially the same way, though their turbines are turned by the force of moving water rather than wind.

A solar panel works by allowing photons, or particles of light, to knock electrons free from atoms, generating a flow of electricity. Solar panels actually comprise many, smaller units called photovoltaic cells. Many cells linked together make up a solar panel.

Each photovoltaic cell is basically a sandwich made up of two slices of semi-conducting material, usually silicon.

Despite the beliefs of the city council of Woodland, NC, solar power is not a limited resource.

To work, photovoltaic cells need to establish an electric field. Much like a magnetic field, which occurs due to opposite poles, an electric field occurs when opposite charges are separated. To get this field, manufacturers put phosphorous into the top layer of silicon, which adds extra electrons, with a negative charge, to that layer. Meanwhile, the bottom layer gets a dose of boron, which results in fewer electrons, or a positive charge. This all adds up to an electric field at the junction between the silicon layers. Then, when a photon of sunlight knocks an electron free, the electric field will push that electron out of the silicon junction. Metal conductive plates on the sides of the cell collect the electrons and transfer them to wires. At that point, the electrons can flow like any other source of electricity.

See also: Wyoming makes $15,000,000 in revenue by taxing windpower, http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-sej-wyoming-wind-tax-snap-story.html

 

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