Scottish firms exporting renewables expertise worldwide

eri-11-03-2016

Research by Glasgow based industry body Scottish Renewables has found firms from across Scotland are working in countries as diverse as China, Russia, Taiwan and Cape Verde and are now active on every continent bar Antarctica.

Across the Northern Periphery and Arctic area Scottish companies have been active in the Faroe Islands, Finland, Norway, Sweden as well as other northern countries including Canada and Russia. Firms have been involved in projects totalling £125.3 million across 43 countries.

Businesses have included Orkney based consultancy Aquatera which has been involved in creating marine energy projects across the United States, Chile, Japan, Columbia, Peru and Indonesia.  An Ayrshire based crane company, Windhoist, has installed more than 4,800 wind turbines across the globe whilst Glasgow’s Star Renewable Energy has installed a heat pump in Drammen, Norway, which now provides warmth for the city’s 63,000 residents.   Jenny Hogan of Scottish Renewables has said “This research clearly shows that Scotland’s expertise in renewable energy is in demand around the world.”

“The stretching targets set in Scotland have meant our home-grown green energy industry has developed skills which are in demand on every inhabited continent, bringing investment and income to Scotland from across the world.”

The Scottish Government has welcomed the figures as evidence of low carbon industries to the Scottish economy.  Business, innovation and energy minister Paul Wheelhouse added: “Low-carbon industries and their supply chains generated almost £11 billion in 2014 and supported 43,500 jobs, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics published recently. “Together with this new research from Scottish Renewables, the figures reinforce the growing importance of the low-carbon industries, including renewable energy businesses, to the Scottish economy and vindicates the Scottish Government’s support for the sector and the increasingly crucial role it plays within our energy mix and the wider economy.”

GREBE Report on the Influence of Environmental Conditions in NPA & Arctic Regions

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Global climate change impacts Europe in many ways, including: changes in average and extreme temperature and precipitation, warmer oceans, rising sea level and shrinking snow and ice cover on land and at sea. These weather phenomenons have led to a range of impacts on ecosystems, socio-economic sectors and human health and safety. There is no doubt that the changes in climate will have a strong impact in our daily life, whether we accept extreme weather conditions as a new phenomenon or not. Adaptation to the past history data, present observed and future predicted impacts will in the coming decades be needed, as well as be complementary to global climate mitigation actions. Narvik Science Park has made a report on this in the GREBE-Project.

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Background

The harsh climatic conditions experienced in many NPA regions, particularly high north and arctic regions, present significant challenges to SMEs and start-ups that can seriously impact on the viability of their businesses. Winter storms regularly occurring in the high north, known as polar lows or arctic weather fronts, can bring about sudden and extreme drops in temperatures, with debilitating ice and snow conditions developing quickly. Also, in the North West Europe the influence from the North Atlantic Oscillation give rise to storms, resulting in high winds and precipitations. These conditions frequently give rise to unsafe working conditions and suspension of business operations, particular in the case of technology installations. Operational environments in these areas are often vulnerable irrespective of climatic conditions, given their isolated, remote locations, far away from technical maintenance staff, and which are often difficult to access by road, air or sea. Businesses located in these areas must compensate for fragile and less robust parameters, in order to cope with unforeseen sudden disturbances (for instance, climate change effects).

There are significant climate challenges in the partner regions with different types of harsh weather. Low temperature, hard winds, and rain/ snow conditions can be extreme in the NPA regions. The question is – how to find the best process conditions for business in remote NPA communities, where knowledge transfer is an important aspect. A harsh local/regional climate, sparsely populated areas together with rural geographic related issues and poor infrastructure have a tendency to bias the company’s business models.

Effects on GREBE regions in Northern Europe

Findings from the work of NSP – In the northeastern part of Europe there is a high societal disturbance caused by wind, rain and in some sense also freezing rain. Since the occurrence of harsh weather conditions are not frequent, the effect will be more palpable. In comparison the norther part of Europe, i.e. Iceland has a frequent presence of high wind conditions that in this case will be more of a “normal” continuous state in daily weather.  In the northeast coastal regions of Europe, the weather is more unpredictable with suddenly arising storms, i.e. polar lows, delivering both rain/snow and windy conditions. In the mainland northeast regions there are precipitation and in conjunction with this often cold climate.

“Local extreme weather” – The weather impact on societal infrastructure in the different NPA regions is considered to be affecting the business activities. The phenomenon of “local extreme weather” is serious for the single business when affects and may have serious consequences to compete in an open market. The trends in towards more local extreme weather is indicating the following spread in northern Europe:

  • Ireland/Northern-Ireland – Wind & Storms
  • Scotland – Rain & Wind
  • Iceland – Wind & Cold
  • Norway – Snow & Cold
  • Finland – Ice & Snow

The economic outcome is then a vulnerable factor in these NPA regions that gives a negative bias for local business and a non-favorable competitive disadvantage compared to similar businesses in other EU regions.

The Regional readiness

The readiness from the society to handle harsh weather and local “extreme” conditions varies from country to country in northern Europe. The regional readiness in local “extreme weather conditions” should be an important measure when establishing new enterprises and a serious risk analysis should be made before each activity starts, by taken in account the possibility for weather disturbance. Based upon the description below from each GREBE partner region, an indicative regional or even local perception has to be defined. The overall measure that indicates some connection between local “extreme weather frequency” and a corresponding indication of society readiness can be of great value. This opens for a discussion and action plans or even a business strategy plan, concerning suddenly weather extremes that are changing in a fast manner, like for example in frequency and behavior. This will also reflect the current climate change in coherence with business activities that we are experiencing and specifically when it is expected to make the biggest noticeable effect on the environment in the Arctic and sub-arctic regions. The regional readiness in society is of great importance when considering time loss of energy, restriction in transportations or not operational production.

However, the impact of “local extreme weather” is considered manageable and moderate in most of the northern EU regions. The frequency of these weather phenomenons can be severe when an indirect impact occurs, e.g. avalanches, coldness, strong winds and flooding will also in the future cause disturbances in the society. These occurrences mainly affect the accessibility to production plants and the mobility of staff. Nevertheless, there is always a high risk that the safety aspect will in each situation not be fully understood. The “local extreme weather” is always important to relate to for both personnel and business operations.

Conclusions –  climate effects on society business

  1. Regional cooperation – The widely spread geographical areas of northern Europe, is experiencing a number of joint challenges in relation to its location, but also possible opportunities that can be overcome and realized by regional cooperation. The experience from each region may be introduced to other Northern European areas and innovations from different parts in society can be used to create specific growth initiatives and common efficient business opportunities of the European Northern and Arctic regions in a climate efficient way. One major impact of challenges and initiatives in business operations is the influence of weather conditions on society and in the extension also SME business operations and productivity located in these areas.
  2. Strategic handling – Today, many operators in society refer to weather as a restriction in budget and argue that it is a phenomenon that has an actuable impact on business. However, the weather can be a strong benefit for the business when an updated insight into the specific local conditions is available and by using a strategic handling document based upon regional knowledge and experience from other businesses. Even national weather organizations are today providing companies this service.
  3. Variety of weather – The final implication is that a change in weather pattern will result in a variety of weather phenomenon that can affect the NPA regions in a different matter. There are different effects on the society, depending upon the specific region, i.e. flooding, wind, and disturbance on roads by fallen trees and avalanche.

You can download the report from the GREBE Project website:

http://grebeproject.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/GREBE-Report-on-the-Influence-of-Environmental-Conditions-in-NPA-Arctic-Regions.pdf

First Power from MeyGen Tidal Energy Project

Caithness Scotland Maygen tidal generation site

What is set to be the largest tidal array in the world met a significant milestone earlier this week in the north of Scotland. In the Inner Sound of the Pentland Firth the first 1.5MW tidal turbine, made by Andritz Hammerfest, delivered electricity to the mainland UK Grid. The device is the first of four turbines in Phase 1a of the project, which when completed, will generate close to 400MW of clean, reliable and predictable electricity.

Generation of electricity for the first time is just one step in a long journey for the MeyGen project. Earlier work at the site has seen subsea cables laid, foundation ballast block installation ready for the installation of the turbines in the latter half of this year.

MeyGen is set to be the largest tidal array farm in the world, its first stage has been funded through a combination of debt, equity and grants from Atlantis the majority owner of the scheme, as well as Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Crown Estate and the former Department for Energy and Climate Change. A total of £51.3 million has been raised for the first stage of development.

The company’s CEO Tim Cornelius said:

“This is the moment we have been working towards since we first identified the MeyGen site back in 2007. 

“I am immensely proud of and grateful for the remarkable team of people who have contributed to this milestone – our suppliers, our funders, our supportive shareholders, and of course the project team, whose commitment, tenacity and belief have been without equal.

“I look forward to bringing more news of the project development over the coming weeks and months as we move into the full operational phase.”

The remaining three turbines, another two Andrizt machines and one built by Atlantis, will be installed over the coming weeks. Atlantis have also revealed that one of the turbines is to be named “the Calum Davidson” in honour of Calum Davidson for his contribution to the marine power sector. Davidson is Director of Energy and Low Carbon at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, a member of the Scottish First Minister’s Energy Advisory Board and has worked tirelessly over the last decade to bring the marine renewables sector to the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.

Cornelius said:

“This project would not exist without Calum,” Cornelius said. “We faced many problems along the path to financial close: finance, licenses, leases, grid and so on. Every time things seemed really bad, I would turn to Calum and he would find a way to make it work. He believes in us and what we are doing. More importantly, he believes in the future of the marine power industry that he has helped create in Scotland. He is one of the reasons why Scotland leads the world in tidal energy development.”

 

Scotland Loves Onshore Wind

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Four out of five people in Scotland support onshore wind according to a new poll. The poll for ComRes found 73% of people in the UK support the sector as a whole with this number increasing to 80% for Scotland. The poll was commissioned by climate charity 10:10 for the launch of their Blown Away campaign.

The results are interesting as Scotland, with the highest support for onshore wind in the UK also has the highest concentration of onshore wind in the UK.

The poll also found that people in the UK underestimate support for onshore wind. Only 11% of people think that 71% or more people in the UK support it.

Although support for onshore wind development is more popular amongst city dwellers, higher support in rural areas was recorded than previously thought.

Max Wakefield from the climate charity 10:10 was reported as saying “The UK public love wind power and they don’t even realise. It’s plainly not true onshore wind is unpopular with the UK public. It’s time our politicians caught up. Onshore wind is already the cheapest tool we have to achieve energy independence, keep bills under control and tackle climate change.””

The poll also found that Scotland has 85% support for offshore wind farms and 83% support for solar farms whilst only 33% for fracking wells for natural gas.

The polling comes after the Conservative governments victory in 2015, with 37% of the vote, has all but ended windfarm developments through subsidy cuts, as their manifesto pledged to do.

Celtic trio form ocean powerhouse – Countries combine to advance wave and tidal energy technology

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Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland have joined forces to advance the development of ocean energy technology by forming a new collaborative network.

Scottish Enterprise said separate agencies from each of the three countries, including itself, formed the Ocean Power Innovation Network, or OPIN, which is hosting its inaugural meeting in Dublin today.

“The network’s mission is to advance innovation by learning from experts in other industries, to push the boundaries of what’s possible in ocean energy and progress innovative ocean projects in a coordinated way,” Scottish Enterprise said.

Companies with ocean energy projects include OpenHyrdo, which plans to develop a commercial scale 100MW tidal energy array in waters off Northern Ireland’s coast.

The network also hopes to share knowledge with representatives from the oil and gas industry, who are among participants at today’s event.

“The coasts of Ireland and Scotland have an abundant supply of ocean energy,” Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland head of emerging sectors Declan Meally said.

“Pooling resources, knowledge and experience between us and collaborating outside the ocean energy sector means we can bring best practices together and drive development in ocean energy.”

OPIN’s next meetings will be hosted by Northern Ireland and Scotland later in the year, Scottish Enterprise said.

Record wind generation in Scotland

ERI image 25-08-2016

On Sunday the 7th of August Scotland provided 106% of its electricity needs from wind power for the day. Wind turbines provided 39 545MWh of electricity to the national grid whilst electricity usage from Scotland’s homes, businesses and industry only used 37 202MWh.

Sunday’s weather was not typical, with high winds across the country causing disruption to road, rail and ferry travel. These high winds were however very good for generation of electricity from wind turbines.

Whilst being the first time on record wind power has exceeded daily needs it may have happened before as a monitoring process for the data was only implemented in 2015.

Wind energy success in Scotland has been increasing year on year with turbines providing 123% of electricity needed for Scottish homes in January 2016. In January 2015 wind provided enough electricity for Scottish homes for 22 of the 31 days in the month.

These announcements have been hailed by WWF Scotland’s director Lang Banks, who said in January:

“2015 proved to be a big year for renewables, and the latest data makes clear that 2016 is already off to a flying start, with wind power alone meeting nearly half of Scotland’s total electricity needs during January.  I have little doubt that 2016 will be another record year for renewables.” 

His predictions for a record year are proving to be true.

Uncertainty harming growth in the Scottish renewable industry

ERI 29-07-2016
Image from Dorli Photography

The Scottish Affairs Committee (a cross party body which is appointed by the UK parliament to examine the expenditure, administration, and policy in Scotland) found that policy changes from the central UK Government is putting at risk future growth in Scotland’s renewable industry.

In the report published by the group these changes are listed as the early closure of the Renewables Obligation for solar and onshore wind, cutting Feed-in-Tariff support rates, and delaying the next round of Contracts for Difference (CfD). The removal of subsidy for onshore wind was identified as being a particular area of concern. The decision was considered to be troubling, as it was taken without consultation with the industry or Scottish Government.

The report also found lack of clarity about renewables policy has exacerbated long-standing concerns of transmission costs in Scotland. Renewable development, and the largest renewable resources, are often located in the NPA region of Scotland and made up of rural areas or islands. These areas face inadequate grid connections and high transmission charges to reach the urban areas where electricity is most needed. In response to these issues the Committee has called on Ofgem (the government regulator for electricity) to look into levelling connection costs across the UK. In addition it has also called on the UK Government to take action to support the improvement of infrastructure between the Scottish Islands and the mainland.

Since the production of the report the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has been abolished. Among other things DECC was in control of the subsidy schemes for renewable energy. As a result KPMG suggest further delays in the announcement of next the CfD auction round, or announcements about plans for “greater separation” of the System Operator. Of course this will not assist with investor confidence. However, perhaps more worrying is the ideological change the abolition of DECC implies. These concerns are communicated by the chair of the Scottish Affairs Committee, Pete Wishart, who described the decision as showing “a troubling shift in the Government’s priorities”.

A short summary of the report can be found at:

https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/scottish-affairs-committee/news-parliament-2015/renewable-energy-scotland-report-published-16-17/

With the full report being available at:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmscotaf/83/8302.htm

Northern Ireland company has a keen interest in the Whisky Industry

Tomatin

Imagine the delight of our Fermanagh & Omagh District Council partner to find a link between Fermanagh and the rich tradition of Scotch Whisky.

Our recent Partner meeting was hosted by University of Highlands and Islands and we were based in Inverness for a few days. Following two days of intense meetings, we escaped to the region for a few very interesting sites visits.  Examples of small scale renewable energy projects, including trips to a community owned wind energy turbine, a small distillery which aims to be the first community owned distillery relaunching an ancient whisky and a locally produced gin, all utilising green energy and a visit to a local brewery specialising in organic beers again produced using renewable energy sources.

Our last site visit was to the Tomatin Distillery, which in 2013 became the first Scottish distillery to install an environmentally efficient wood pellet fuelled steam boiler which is used in their production process.  The plant consists of a vertical shell nd tube boiler with a fixed grate that is coupled to twim 100m3 pellet silos with integrated loading , feeding and metering.  Fuelled by locally produced wood pellets, from the Balcas plant at Invergordon, this 4MW biomass system boiler solution has largely replaced their heavy fuel oil usage, significantly reducing the carbon emissions for this traditional distillery set in the heart of the Scottish Highlands.  This is in line with the Scottish Whisky Association’s industry-wide targets with the stated aim that by 2020, 20% of energy requirements will be derived from non-fossil fuels, rising to 80% by 2050.

We are very excited by the prospect of introducing our international partners to the home of Balcas at Ballycassidy on the outskirts of Enniskillen when we host the partner meeting in late 2017.

GREBE Project meets in Inverness

The GREBE Project met in Scotland last week for their third project meeting.  As part of the meeting, GREBE met with another NPA funded project ‘FREED’ on Monday 5th June to discuss synergies between the two projects.  We then had two days for meetings to discuss the project activities and the reports on policy initiatives, funding mechanisms and climatic challenges of the NPA region which we will publish in September.  On the fourth day of our meeting, our Scottish partner, the Environmental Research Institute (ERI) organised site visits to look at renewable energy technologies in use in different areas.

Our first visit was to Dingwall Wind Co-Op http://dingwallwind.org.uk/.  The Dingwall Wind Co-op owns and runs a 250kW wind turbine just above Dingwall in Ross-shire.  The turbine is the first 100% co-operatively owned wind development in Scotland. The co-op was launched in September 2013 and the turbine was commissioned on the 16th of June 2014.  There are 179 members of the co-op, 90% of whom are from the local area. The co-op will contribute to a community fund estimated at between £2000 and £8000/year. Members of the co-op receive a good return on their investment and EIS tax relief. The landowners, who originated the project, receive a rental payment for use of their land.

Dingwall Co-op

Our next visit to John McKenzie at Scroggie Farm http://flyingfarmer.co/john-mckenzie/green-energy.  Using his own farm as a starting point, in 2009 John took his various experiences, particularly those from visiting the remote islands of Scotland, and embarked on a number of projects to promote local energy production and saving. The result is a farm that harnesses the wind, rain and sun for energy production.  The systems at the farm include Wind, Hydro(on and off grid), Solar PV, Solar Gain, Solar Thermal, Biomass, Electric Car.  Off-grid hydro equipment supplied by Powerspout Hydro Turbines.

We then visited to Black Isle Brewery http://www.blackislebrewery.com/, which is an organic brewery and use a biomass fed boiler to heat their HLT.

Our last visit of the day was to see a new 4MW biomass steam boiler at Tomatin Distillery http://www.tomatin.com/.  This biomass boiler is fuelled by locally produced wood pellets, provided by Balcas which allows Tomatin to displace the majority of the distillery’s heavy fuel oil and, in doing so, cut its carbon emissions.

 

Scotland over halfway to 2020 renewable generation target

ERI 05-05-2016

Scotland generated 21 983 GWh of renewable electricity in 2015, according to the latest round of Scottish Government energy statistics. Using 2014 electricity demand as a proxy for that of 2015 means for the first time Scotland generated more than half (57.7%) of its total electricity demand from renewable sources.

This marks a significant step towards the Scottish Government 2020 target of the equivalent to 100% of Scotland’s electricity demand being generated by renewables and shows substantial growth and progression in Scotland’s renewable industry; in 2003 the figure was just 9%. Wind in particular has contributed to this increase in renewable generation (see Table 1).

Year Wind Hydro Wave and tidal Solar PV Landfill Sewage Other biofuels Total
2000 216.7 4,665.30 0 0 68.5 0 21.1 4,971.60
2001 245.2 3,737.50 0 0 109.3 0 110.4 4,202.40
2002 406.1 4,455.40 0 0 157 0 80.1 5,098.70
2003 448.9 2,902.00 0 0 228 0 145.5 3,724.40
2004 848.4 4,474.80 0 0 339.2 0 169.8 5,832.20
2005 1,280.90 4,612.20 0 0 395.4 0 197.2 6,485.70
2006 2,022.90 4,224.90 0 0 424 0 283.7 6,955.60
2007 2,644.00 4,692.90 0 0 486.5 0 179.8 8,003.20
2008 3,360.10 4,700.60 0 0 501.7 20.3 479 9,061.80
2009 4,553.90 4,856.70 0.1 0 533.8 25.8 616.1 10,586.40
2010 4,921.90 3,255.50 0 0.8 529.1 31.9 725.5 9,464.80
2011 7,099.50 5,319.30 0.4 8.3 509.4 35.3 714 13,686.30
2012 8,294.30 4,838.30 0.5 67.2 547.1 35.4 902 14,684.90
2013 11,133.30 4,362.70 2.5 90.7 562.8 30.2 766.5 16,948.60
2014 11,664.10 5,435.80 2.1 131.7 533.5 28.2 1,166.50 18,961.90
2015 14,136.00 5,828.00 1 193 499 26 1,299.00 21,983.00

Table 1. Annual electricity generation (GWh) from different renewable sources in Scotland since 2000.

Scotland’s excellent wind resource is not the only reason behind growth in the industry; there has been strong political support from the Scottish Government and reliable financial assistance in the form of Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs). ROCs were introduced in 2003, giving a guaranteed level of subsidy to electricity produced by renewables. After the expected lag in the first year of the scheme due to planning and installation times there has been a rapid growth in wind power generated in Scotland (the reason for limited growth from 2009 to 2010 is 2010 was an exceptionally calm year). However, the UK Government is now switching subsidy schemes to one where renewables must enter a bidding process to secure funding. In the offshore wind sector in particular has already led to lengthy project delays.

Another renewable sector which has seen growth but is going to be heavily impacted by a change in subsidy is solar PV. In 2010 the UK Government introduced a generous feed-in tariff system responsible for the increasing penetration of solar PV from that year onwards. However, as mentioned in previous blog posts the feed-in tariffs for some renewables have been slashed, with solar power being one of the most heavily affected technologies; small residential scale solar has seen tariff levels drop from 12.47 p/kWh in December 2015 to 4.39 p/kWh, which has already resulted in a huge reduction in new installations. So despite the halfway mark being reached there are challenging times ahead in the next four years if Scotland is to meet its 100% target.

A full breakdown of the latest energy statistics from the Scottish Government can be found at http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0049/00498583.pdf