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Wind turbines briefly covered all of Scotland's electricity needs

Scotland's demand for electricity was entirely met by wind power during a period of high winds on Sunday.

The Met Office issued a yellow ‘be aware’ weather warning covering much of the country as wind speeds reached 115mph on the top of the Cairngorms and gusts of more than 60mph hit towns in the north.

The weather brought travel disruption, with some bridges closed, ferries cancelled and trains affected, but helped boost the country's renewable energy production.

Environmental group WWF Scotland said an analysis of data by WeatherEnergy shows wind turbines in Scotland generated power equivalent to more than cover the entire country's electricity needs.

Scottish turbines provided 39,545 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity to the National Grid on Sunday while the country's total power consumption for homes, business and industry was 37,202 MWh, which means wind power generated 106 per cent of its electricity needs.

This level of generation is good news for Scotland which closed its last coal power station, Longannet, in March. In addition, it may placate concerns by energy experts that say Britain as a whole will struggle to keep lights on in coming years as facilities come offline and are not replaced. 

WWF Scotland director Lang Banks urged the Scottish government to set a goal of securing half of all of its energy from renewables by 2030 at a forthcoming energy strategy meeting.

"While Sunday's weather caused disruption for many people, it also proved to be a good day for wind power output, with wind turbines alone providing the equivalent of all Scotland's total electricity needs,” he said.

"This major moment was made possible thanks in part to many years of political support, which means that across the year now renewables contribute well over half of our electricity needs.

"However, if we want to ensure we reap the many benefits of becoming a low carbon economy, we need to see this political support for renewables continue.”

Harsh weather conditions in Scotland last winter boosted wind power output by almost 40 per cent. 

However, in June the GMB union was keen to point out that this level of variation caused uncertainty on the National Grid meaning that backup power plants using more stable forms of electricity production would always be needed.

GMB said there were over six weeks of low wind days since the start of June 2015 when wind only supplied 10 per cent or less of the electricity capacity to the grid.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "Scotland's abundant energy resources play a vital role in delivering security of electricity supply across the UK. The Scottish government is committed to supporting onshore wind, which is one of our most cost-effective low carbon energy technologies.

"We remain fully supportive of low-carbon technologies, which offer a huge economic opportunity for Scotland and have a key role to play in our fight against the threat posed by climate change to our society and natural environment.

"We have a clear policy for an energy mix to provide energy security for the future and will set out our ambitions for an integrated approach to low carbon technologies within our draft energy strategy later this year. This will include exploring the option of setting a new renewable energy target."

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