In a Scottish Oil Field, Wind Power Cranks it Up

I have been blogging regularly about what I consider a turning point in society’s view of green energy. Again and again I read about initiatives moving forward despite the government’s recalcitrance; it is the market that is pushing hard and the profit motive that keeps them innovating.

Last night’s WSJ included a story about the Beatrice wind energy project–one of the world’s largest array of wind turbines, being built 12 miles off the very windy coast of Scotland. The beauty is that this North Sea location is already known for energy production–amidst declining reserves of oil. So this means that cities like Aberdeen have 10o’s of thousands of people already working in the energy business. “We’re looking at renewables as a way to keep people employed,” said Paul O’Brien, head of Renewable Energy Development at Scottish Development Int’l.

The Beatrice field is located in 150 feet of water, much deeper than other large wind energy systems, and located 12 miles at sea. This inspires the opponents of Cape Wind, who claim that the project’s builders should take a hint from the Scots and move that set of turbines far out of view of passing sailboats and the tony houses of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. Cape Wind is proposed for much closer, so the large structures will be visible.

The Scottish project has had a much easier time moving forward because the owners could use their oil and gas operating licenses to get it approved. They will be used at first to power oil platforms. But by 2020, the British Wind Energy Association hopes to be churning out 20,000 megawatts of power, which will take the places of dozens of coal and oil-fired power plants.