Look to Scotland | AspenTimes.com

Look to Scotland

Last week this paper ran a cartoon highlighting increased coal consumption in China. This was among many articles and columns from the media during the Glasgow meetings implying that others aren’t doing enough to reduce emissions, or clean tech has not been able to reduce emissions, etc.

First, China’s coal consumption has been essentially constant for a decade and this year industrial demand jumped. During that decade more and more of the world’s energy-intensive industries have relocated there. All those ships lined up at the Port of L.A.? They are filled with stuff made from Chinese steel, aluminum, magnesium, and silicon, to name a few very energy-intensive materials made mostly in China now. Traffic at that port is up 20% in two years. Do we have a shortage of supply or an excess of demand?

China has more wind and solar generating capacity than the USA and is about tied in contributions of those by fraction of total electricity consumption. We could be moving ahead more quickly, but a variety of minor political jurisdictions have been used to “short circuit” national support for expansion of renewable capacity.

The crack reporters in Glasgow didn’t seem to notice, but the Scots went wild with wind turbines in the past decade. Scotland is like Colorado in a few ways, including population, land area suitable for wind power, and oil and gas production. Their electric rates are about 25% above ours. Onshore wind turbines provide Scotland with about 55% of its electricity consumption, with only 10% from fossil fuels. They have not experienced the “unreliability” or “unaffordability” that the fossil-fuel folks imply should result from that. Colorado had a good start, but we dithered and as of 2020, 20% of our power came from wind and solar, though we have better “targets” now.

The Colorado PUC is still taking input on Xcel’s resource plan and renewable power transmission plan. Whether these are accelerated to reduce emissions ASAP will show whether Colorado really considers climate disruption an emergency or not.

Fred Porter