Turbines in the Firth are visible, mirroring those already on the hills. Energy’s flowing but how to maximize the benefits for the county remains the critical question. Transmission stations and upgrading the national grid are essential but other aspects also arise which are seeing planning applications for sites. Many of the proposals are sensible but their location’s the issue.
Long Duration Energy Storage batteries store the energy when the grid’s at capacity. That’s sensible as it avoids switching off wind turbines and paying a premium to suppliers when it can be stored and transmitted when capacity exists. It also allows for other spin-offs from the energy.
One spin off’s hydrogen. Producing it requires energy and water and siting plants close to the turbine’s or where it comes ashore is common sense. It offers huge opportunities for a green fuel for transport and household heating, as well as business and work opportunities locally. The production of ammonia’s another possibility and required for agriculture and other sectors.
East Lothian’s at the centre of the renewable revolution. But it mustn’t just see transmission stations constructed and the energy cabled south. There must be opportunities for businesses to base themselves here and for the community to benefit from the work that comes with them.
Much of its skilled engineering jobs, the likes of which we require to replace from what’s been lost already with old industries and will cease when Torness shuts. It’s also the line of work that many young people are crying out for and seeking the chance of an apprenticeship. These businesses offer that chance.
So, the industries and sites should be welcome. But where should they be sited. The county has existing brownfield sites at Cockenzie and at Torness the landbank’s far greater than simply the nuclear power station site. That’s where much should be hubbed not on arable land and adjacent to small communities. Similarly, solar panels on housing’s sensible but solar farms aren’t needed here. On and offshore wind’s what should be prioritized here but in the right area.
The county must benefit from this bounty.