As records continue to be broken, we plan ahead

Energy from renewable sources accounted for almost one fifth of the UK’s energy demand in the first quarter of 2014 as a result of high winds, rainfall and an uplift in new construction and technologies in the solar industry.

New government figures released last week show the UK renewables sector had a record first three months of the year producing over 18 TWh, a huge increase of 43% on the same period in 2013.

Both wind and hydropower saw an increase in output as the UK suffered its wettest winter on record. Energy from onshore wind developments grew by 62%, offshore wind increased by 50% and hydropower 78% adding up to a record quarterly increase of 2.3 TWh.

The first three months of 2014 also saw an increase in construction in solar power developments. Cuts in subsidies for large solar farms from April onwards resulted in 1.1 GW of new capacity being added to the grid within this period.

In total by the end of the quarter the UK had 20.8 GW of new renewable energy projects developed, some 15% higher over the same period in the previous year.

The figures bring good news for the UK’s renewables industry which only last week was celebrating due to a record summer performance brought on by high winds the previous weekend which outstripped energy generation from coal.

This double record breaking feat will also be welcomed by the UK government which is coming under exceedingly more pressure to comply with the EU targets of energy generation from renewable sources to be at 15% by 2020. A target which industry experts predict will require over 30% of the country’s electricity to come from renewable sources.

As members of the UK government talk of scaling back our renewables industry it is reassuring that the technology continues to show all of us exactly what it is capable of producing. Energy will always be a necessity however clean energy should not be a luxury. At present we are capable of producing clean renewable energy in vast quantities, in the future with further positive government initiatives and private investment we will be able to meet much of our energy needs through clean renewable and reliable sources.

Moving on now to Dunbar, a village in East Lothian Scotland not too far from where we are and it was announced last week by Environment Minister Richard Lochhead that this market community is set to become the first of Scotland’s Zero Waste Towns.

This new accolade aims to recognise the efforts of residents and businesses in recycling, reducing waste and the efficient use of resources. The pilot project which will be replicated in other communities in the near future will initiate a number of community led projects including; a new facility to assist making the re-use of good easier, promotion and education of less food waste and better food recycling, new school programmes, and anti-litter initiatives.

Local community group Sustaining Dunber will oversee the project and work closely with Zero Waste Scotland and East Lothian Council as well as local community groups, residents and businesses to coordinate a comprehensive campaign aiming to alter attitudes to waste in the town.

Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “It’s fantastic that Dunbar has set an example and become Scotland’s first ever Zero Waste Town, demonstrating the community’s firm commitment to making real progress in resource management at a local level.

“This innovative programme will help the town recycle more, send less to landfill and use our precious resources more efficiently. I wish everyone involved in this initiative the best of luck and I hope it will create valuable experiences that other communities around Scotland can benefit from as we strive to make Scotland a zero waste country.”

Iain Gulland, Director, Zero Waste Scotland, said: “Getting everyone in Scotland’s communities on-board with our vision to eliminate waste, for the benefit of local economies and the environment, is absolutely vital. Scotland has set ambitious targets to achieve a recycling rate of 70 percent and reduce the waste produced by 15 percent by 2025. To achieve this, everyone must play their part.

“Working to becoming a Zero Waste Town will be a great way to bring communities together, working towards a shared goal. Hopefully the pilot project in Dunbar will provide great examples of best practice which we can recreate in other towns across Scotland.”

Brian Grindley, Chair of Sustaining Dunbar said: “Sustaining Dunbar are delighted that Dunbar has been chosen to be Scotland’s first Zero Waste Town. We have already spoken to a wide range of organisations, businesses and individuals throughout the community and received a hugely positive response to this project. We look forward to working together to lead the way in eliminating waste.”

Dunbar was selected for the pilot project following submissions from across Scotland after an open call for interested communities in 2013.

As we seek as many solutions for reducing our carbon footprint as possible initiatives like Zero Waste Scotland will become more commonplace. This is important for our society as important renewable energy is and we therefore must source as many viable alternative solutions to reducing our carbon footprint as we can. Even relatively small steps like this can all add up to make a vital difference.

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