Energy for our cities of the future

Scotland’s largest source of power has been confirmed as renewable electricity as new figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s Energy Trends and Quarterly Energy Prices report published last week show that 49.5% of the country’s electricity needs in 2014 was met by that generated from renewable sources.

In the last year we have seen Scottish energy generation records broken for hydro-power, solar, biomass and wind generation with onshore wind now providing 30% of Scotland’s overall electricity demand.

When asked about these new figures Joss Blamire Senior Policy Manager at Scottish Renewables said “These figures show how valuable the renewables sector is to Scotland, with wind and rain generating almost half of our electricity needs.

“With records broken for all our major renewable energy technologies – hydro, solar, biomass and wind – 2014 was the best year ever for green energy in Scotland.

“While we are still on track to meet our interim target for electricity generation, we must not forget that much still needs to be done in order to meet our target for heat, which makes up more than half of the energy we use in Scotland.”

In addition the report stated that renewable electricity provided a record percentage of supply in the last quarter of 2014, reaching 22%.

Also welcoming the news was industry body RenewableUK as Deputy Chief Executive Maf Smith commented: “It’s wonderful to see renewable electricity reach another record of almost 50% of electricity generated and to see wind providing the lion’s share of that. Communities up and down the country benefit from wind power via the 34500 people employed in the sector, and local benefits and contracts, and these statistics show its doing its primary job of providing clean homegrown power and weaning us off fossil fuel imports.

“Onshore and offshore wind is a UK success story, and as the General Election approaches, politicians should recognise its value, and support it fully.”

The report also confirmed that renewable electricity provided a record percentage of power in 2014 at 19.2%. Onshore and offshore wind made up nearly 50% of this total, with both seeing increases in the amount of power generated compared to 2013; onshore wind power generation increased 7.9% and the amount of offshore wind power generated was up by 16.1%.

Last week also saw the publication of another new report ‘Smarter, greener cities: ten ways to modernise and improve UK urban infrastructure’ from the UK Green Investment Bank which gives cities the opportunity to invest in ten varieties of green infrastructure.

The ten technologies showcased are already being used in at least one UK town or city and are capable of a large scale immediate roll out across the entire country.

With 98% of the UK’s urban areas maintaining a growing population demand for effective transport, communications, energy, water, waste, and building structure also continually grows. Therefore investment in modern green infrastructure offer a tangible solution to these issues as well and offering a range of benefits including a reduction in air pollution, less traffic congestions, better energy efficiency (which leads to lower energy bills), and an overall improved living space.

Also as these technologies as all designed to be greener they will aid cities in meeting their environmental commitments by reducing greenhouse gas and in particular carbon dioxide emissions, increasing recycling – which in turn reduces landfill requirements – improving energy efficiency, and increasing the amount of renewable energy an urban area both produces and uses.

The technologies featured in the report include anaerobic digestion, district heating networks, LED street lighting, combined heat and power schemes, low carbon transport and building energy efficiency and the UK cities already making use of some of these green infrastructure technologies include Aberdeen, Birmingham, Derby, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Milton Keynes, Nottingham, Reading, and Sheffield.

Shaun Kingsbury, chief executive of the UK Green Investment Bank speaking at the launch of the report said “Across the UK we have some world class examples of innovative green energy infrastructure. Our challenge now is to take these technologies, which can be used in any city, and roll them out in every city. Investing in this type of infrastructure will have a transformational impact on the competitiveness and livability of our cities.”

Cities Minister, Greg Clark said: “National growth is the sum of local growth, for Britain to prosper every part of the country needs to fulfil its potential. That is why the Government is focused on empowering our great cities and communities to drive growth. This report highlights that green infrastructure has the potential to deliver both economic and social benefits that make our cities more liveable and workable in the future.

“We are undertaking the biggest ever transfer of powers away from Whitehall so we can grow the economy in a balanced way and enable Britain’s cities to become engines of growth in a range of industries.”

Peter Madden, chief executive of Future Cities Catapult said: “Many of our cities are already taking the initiative to drive a low carbon renewal of the nation’s urban infrastructure, and with the prospect of greater devolution this momentum is only set to grow. With the technology now available to us we can take this opportunity to deliver joined-up investment in truly integrated and cost-effective infrastructure, meeting the ambition of our cities’ leaders and the changing needs of communities.”

Stephanie Clark, Policy Manager at Scottish Renewables, said: “This report shows the transformational effect that green energy technologies, particularly those in the low carbon heat sector, can have on cities, and it is particularly encouraging to see Glasgow and Aberdeen mentioned as innovative leaders.

“Increased public sector leadership in low carbon heat, and the vision and imagination to make the best use of technologies like heat pumps, anaerobic digesters and combined heat and power schemes can deliver huge benefits in both economic terms, and in our ongoing battle to combat climate change.”

As our urban populations continue to grow the energy demand will also increase. However the growing population also means a reduction in space so innovative ideas and technology are must in order manage this increase in energy demand. Therefore the opportunity offered by the UK Green Investment Bank is one which our cities and towns cannot ignore if they are to meet the energy needs of their residents whilst at the same time protect and enhance the environment in which they live. Solutions to these issues do exist though and the positive steps made so far are encouraging. With continued growth and investment they can be improved upon making them even more cost effective and efficient creating greener, cleaner, and more sustainable cities of the future.

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