Scottish firms exporting renewables expertise worldwide

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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.”

CGN Europe Energy buys 14 windfarms in Northern Ireland and Ireland from Gaelectric

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Gaelectric Holdings has confirmed the sale of wind farms totalling 230MW in Ireland and Northern Ireland to CGN Europe Energy, the renewable energy arm of China General Nuclear Power Group. The deal comprises 10 operating projects with a total capacity of 184MW, and a further four wind farms totalling 46MW that will be operational by mid-2017.

Seven of the wind farms are in Northern Ireland and seven in the Republic of Ireland, Gaelectric said. The company added that it will continue to provide asset management and power offtake services to CGN Europe Energy following the sale.

Gaelectric Holdings chief executive Barry Gavin said: “This agreement allows us to support the group’s balance sheet, paying down debt and creating the foundations for our other operational and development interests in the renewable energy sector.”

First micro-scale community wind power project in North Karelia

Jakokoski community established a 20 kW wind power plant in October 2016 as a LEADER co-financed project to provide power for the observatory and a community building.

Jakokoski community initiated a community wind power in their community development plan in 2009. The planning included a detailed engineering thesis work of a person living in a community. Project was identified feasible, and implemented with LEADER co-financing. The total budget for the investment project was 74 500 €’s with 50% co-financing, and a loan from the municipality.

The location of the 19 meters high power plant is optimal, as it is at the top of the hill Terttulanvaara – a popular of its observatory and public star shows.

The generator power is 20kW, estimated production (with average 5 m/s wind) is 19 625 kWh. Estonian TUGE Energia headquartered in Tallinn manufactures the wind power turbine. It manufactures and supplies small wind turbines with capacity of 10 and 20 kW.  A regional power company provides additional electricity and purchases the excess power.

The technology is innovative, as the metering of the wind power and direction is based on ultrasound, and rotor turns automatically in optimal direction. Turbine can also be monitored and partly controlled online, and hydraulic lifting enables service and maintenance operations.

 

 

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.

Things that go BUMP in the Night

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Signs in a number of local towns and villages have warned of parking restrictions applicable through the night over the last 8 weeks, with warnings of dire consequences should they be ignored.  This all led to a heightened sense of anticipation of what was about to be moving through our region during the wee small hours.

Residents in the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council area have seen a number of very large vehicles transiting through the area over the last number of weeks.  These large transporters have been delivering large sections of wind turbines to a site at the Ora More windfarm in Boho.  Travelling at night in order to minimise disruption to local traffic and residents, these vehicles have become something of a local attraction in their own right, with many postings on social media from people fascinated by the logistics and challenges of making these plans come to fruition.

One local photographer has captured a number of still and moving images of this nocturnal activity which have attracted significant levels of interest with local people.

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When fully functioning, this wind farm will produce sufficient electricity to supply somewhere in the region of 13,000 homes.  In the context of our region, this is not an insignificant contribution to the local offering in terms of Renewable Energy.  This development has at least put Renewable Energy activity on the agenda for discussion in the region……………and that can only be a good thing.

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Photographs Courtesy of Mr Roy Crawford, Enniskillen

Ireland rejects 125MW Maighne – Element Power’s 47-turbine plan in Kildare and Meath

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Element Power has been refused permission to build its up to 125MW Maighne wind farm in Ireland.  National planning authority An Bord Pleanala (ABP) has ruled against the developer’s 47-turbine project in Kildare and Meath.

Its officials said allowing permission would be “premature” in the absence of “any national wind energy strategy”.  ABP also said the “widely dispersed cluster-based layout” would have an “inevitable adverse” impact including a “disproportionately large visual envelope”.

Element Power initially lodged the plans in April last year. It had hoped to build turbines with 169 metre tip heights.   ABP also shot down the developer’s proposals for an up to 120MW Emlagh wind farm in Meath earlier this year.

Record wind generation in Scotland

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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.

Wind turbines assembled at Belfast Harbour

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State of the art wind turbines with a diameter bigger than the London Eye are being assembled at Belfast Harbour.

 The 32 turbines are destined for the sea off Liverpool. Once running, they will generate enough electricity for a city twice the size of Belfast – about 230,000 homes. The component parts have been shipped to a purpose-built facility in the docks, built several years ago at a cost of £50m. They are being put together and fitted out, before being shipped out horizontally on a specialist vessel to the 40sq km site in Liverpool bay. At peak operation each turbine can produce the same amount of energy in one day as contained in 22,600 barrels of oil.

Government subsidies for onshore wind have been stopped, leading to the shelving of many projects. But financial support remains for off-shore projects, with developers promising to cut costs through technology and lower the amount of subsidy needed.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-36915662

BREXIT – A brief view of some of the energy implications of the UK voting to leave the European Union

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The result of the UK referendum over EU membership has potentially huge implications for renewable energy. Perhaps the most significant of these is the UK may no longer be in the EU Internal Energy Market (IEM).

Completion of the EU’s internal market requires the removal of obstacles and trade barriers; the approximation of tax and pricing policies and measures in respect of norms and standards; and environmental and safety regulations. The objective of these is to help create a functioning market with fair access and a high level of consumer protection as well as adequate levels of interconnection and generation capacity. The IEM has led to the development of interconnections, to help reduce isolation of Member States from the European gas and electricity grids. Being part of energy union would have provided a huge market for UK renewables, such as its growing offshore wind fleet. Furthermore, it would have benefited energy security as renewable generation increases its overall share in the grid, through smoothing of generation variability.

The National Grid are certainly fearful of an exit from the IEM, with a spokeswoman saying: “It is vital the UK retains access to the IEM, which provides stability for energy companies and helps keep household bills down…UK energy security depends on gas and electricity from the IEM and it is essential therefore that we take no risks with that. The issue of energy needs to be treated with the highest importance by the government as the negotiations on Britain’s exit begin.”

Key players and commenters in the sector are almost unanimously giving a negative outlook as a result of the leave vote. These include factors such as higher costs, consumer impacts and a likely reduction in funding of scientific research; but the result is perhaps best summed up by Professor Rob Gross, of Imperial College, who said: “victory for leave creates uncertainty, risks instability, weakens the UK’s negotiating position and, at least in the short term, discourages investment.”  The lack of stability and certainty will not only impact renewables but other low carbon energy projects; for example, the scraping of the controversial proposed nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point (which was to be built by the French company EDF) seems a likely outcome of the referendum.

It is clear that energy policy needs to be a priority for the new government, to give reassurance to the industry. However, even if it does become a priority it would seem optimistic not to view the vote to leave the EU as negative for the UK energy system and low carbon energy in particular.

Sources:

Quotes are taken from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jun/28/leave-vote-makes-uks-transition-to-clean-energy-harder-say-experts

For background information on the IEM http://www.europarl.europa.eu/ftu/pdf/en/FTU_5.7.2.pdf

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.