Wind Energy Trumps Donald’s Scotland Vistas

The Scottish government this week approved plans to build an 11-turbine testing ground a few kilometers off the northeast coast of Scotland, rebuffing American celebrity real estate developer Donald Trump, who railed that the array will spoil the views from his seaside golf resort.

The conflict with Trump has raised the profile of this wind power development, yet also obscured its real importance for Scotland: The European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre, backed by the European Union, won’t be a mere wind farm; it promises to bring scientists, researchers, engineers and offshore wind companies to Scotland as tests on next-generation offshore turbines proceed.

trump scotland wind

The Trump course at Aberdeen, Scotland (image via Trump International)

It will also provide power – a remarkable amount, quite possibly, for an array of not even a dozen turbines. Owned three-quarters by Vattenfall and one-quarter by Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group, the turbines at the center are “expected to generate up to 100 megawatts, providing enough energy to meet the needs of over 49,000 homes – almost half of the homes in Aberdeen,” the Scottish government said.

It took 19 months and much consultation for the Scottish government to grant the development consent for the project, giving Trump plenty of time to raise his voice in opposition. Trump has said he is trying to preserve Scotland’s natural beauty in fighting wind turbines, an odd claim for a man whose resort – a sprawling 1,400-acre haven for the wealthy with two championship golf courses, a five-star hotel, a golf academy and a residential community – was opposed by the Scottish Wildlife Trust.

Scotland, of course, is a clean energy leader, aiming to match 100 percent of its electricity demand with renewable production by 2020. As it happened, the decision on the Aberdeen site this week also brought new data showing big increases in generation. Among the highlights in the report:

  • Wind generation in 2012 was at a record high level – 8,296 gigawatt-hours, up 19 per cent on 2011 (previous record year for wind) and more than four times the level of wind generation in 2006.
  • Scottish renewable generation made up approximately 35 per cent of total UK renewable generation in 2012.
  • At the end of 2012, there was 5,883 MW of installed renewable electricity capacity in Scotland, an increase of 22 per cent (1,041 MW) from the end of 2011.

“We remain firmly on course to generate the equivalent of 100 per cent of Scotland’s electricity needs from renewables by 2020 – with renewables generating more than enough electricity to supply every Scottish home,” Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.