THERE is controversy this week about Scotland's true renewable energy generation potential following the publication of a claim by British nationalist negativity generating organisation These Islands.

If we could harness the amount of energy that These Islands and its like put into trying to prove that Scotland is an impoverished and incompetent basket case, there would probably be more than enough to heat the homes of those citizens who will be forced to use so-called warm banks this winter as a result of Westminster mismanagement of the UK energy sector.

The Westminster-manufactured crisis in the energy sector, which has left the UK uniquely exposed to shocks and price rises in the international energy markets, is not something that These Islands appears too concerned about, focused as it is on the traditional British nationalist pursuit of telling Scotland that no matter how rubbish the UK is, Scotland would most certainly be even more rubbish.

The issue at hand is the oft-repeated claim that Scotland possesses as much as a quarter of the wind energy potential for Europe. These Islands, in what it believes to have been a triumphant “gotcha!” moment, published a report saying that the claim that Scotland has a quarter of Europe's wind energy potential is unfounded.

The obvious aim behind this report is to foster fear and doubt among the wider Scottish population about Scotland's ability to supply its own domestic energy needs and to develop a thriving industry exporting clean energy to the rest of Europe.

It is very difficult to estimate the amount of energy a country could potentially generate from wind.  There are many variables to take into account and uncertain factors such as how wind patterns will change due to global warming.

Prima facie, global warming should be expected to increase the number of windy days as higher temperatures mean there is more energy in the atmosphere, but local and regional patterns can vary in ways which are not always easy to predict. 

Nevertheless, it is beyond any doubt that Scotland's wind energy potential is massive, and goes way beyond what Scotland requires to provide its own domestic energy needs.

Even These Islands has been forced to concede that Scotland has a large and impressive potential for the generation of off-shore wind, and its paper does not take into account Scotland's large on-shore wind potential. These Islands estimates that Scotland possesses around 6% of Europe's off-shore wind energy potential – this is still a massive amount.

The paper that the too-wee, too-poor, too-stupid propaganda outlet has published only makes reference to Europe. It does not specify if this is just the European Union or the wider European Economic Area or those countries which are members of the European council. 

However, even if we were only to consider EU member states as “Europe”, Scotland only has 1.25% of the total population of this most narrowly defined “Europe”, and less than 1% of the population if we use one of the broader definitions of Europe.

So even using the figures of These Islands, which are certain to have used the most pessimistic forecasts of Scotland's wind energy potential, there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that Scotland is not only easily capable of producing enough energy from wind to meet Scotland's own domestic needs – it is also capable of producing vast amounts of surplus energy which can be exported and thus create revenues which can be invested in Scotland's public services and infrastructure.

Just this week, plans were announced for a massive wind farm off the coast of East Lothian. The Berwick project could create more than 4500 jobs in Scotland, and has the potential to deliver up to 4.1GW of installed capacity. This single project alone can generate enough clean, renewable energy to power more than five million homes, which is the equivalent to supplying all of Scotland’s households twice over. Other large projects are being planned, which will boost Scottish renewable energy production even further.

Naturally, in its eagerness to pour cold water on Scotland's belief in its own potential, These Islands glosses over the most important facts about Scotland's renewable energy industry – facts which it itself was reluctantly forced to concede. Not only is Scotland able to meet its domestic energy needs from renewable resources, it is also quite capable of producing a large energy surplus for export. All that These Islands can do is quibble about the exact size of the surplus.

This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

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