What were you doing on Sunday, Aug. 7, 2016?
I cleaned my apartment and made some amazing curry. Meanwhile, the world was pretty active too. Thailand approved a new constitution, for instance. And down in Rio, it was day two of the Olympics, featuring archery, diving, and weightlifting.
If you were in Scotland, however, you might have been distracted from the Olympics by the gigantic winds. Aug. 7 was a very blustery day for Scotland. The winds reached 115 mph in some places!
For many people, the high winds were problematic. Some bridges had to be closed, for example, and ferry and train services were affected.
But the winds also contributed something awesome for Scotland:
The wind on Sunday produced enough electricity to completely power Scotland. All of it. With zero fossil fuels.
An analysis of WeatherEnergy data by WWF Scotland suggested that wind power produced 106% of Scotland’s energy needs. That’s enough to not only run the country, but to power over 75,000 homes as well!*
It’s worth noting that this was kind of a magical confluence of factors: The extreme wind certainly helped, but energy demands are typically lower during the weekend. Still, it’s a huge milestone for a seriously cool country.
Scotland’s got some serious renewable chops going on.
Though Scotland is estimated to have the largest oil reserves in the E.U., they’re seriously dedicated to renewables. In fact, renewables contribute about half of Scotland’s electricity — dwarfing both nuclear (33%) and fossil fuels (28%)!
Scotland’s government plans to generate the equivalent of 100% of its electricity needs through renewables by 2020.
Wind makes up most of Scotland’s renewables, but they’re also using wave and tidal energy, as well as hydroelectric.
We still need better infrastructure for renewable energy as a whole, but Scotland’s epic day shows the power of renewables.
One of the things keeping solar, wind, and other forms of renewable energy from completely taking over the grid in many places is the lack of infrastructure. We need to build up our grid to take better advantage of peaks like these while also buffering it for the low days.
But on Aug. 7, 2016, Scotland proved that renewables can provide more than enough electricity. Now we just need the will and infrastructure to bring it everywhere.