Innovative projects and support for renewable energy as global temperatures rise

Households and businesses on the Orkney Isles will soon be benefiting from discounted electricity thanks to a project by Hamsin Wind to install over 60 small scale turbines free of charge by the end of 2015.

The project will consist of both 6kW and 15kW turbines being installed with Hasmin Wind covering the planning and development costs and the home and business owners receiving discounted electricity for the life of the turbines. Hasmin will generate income via the Feed-in Tariff and a long term power purchase agreement which pays for power sales to the grid.

Approximately 95% of the electricity generated by the turbines will be consumed by the relative homeowner on site. Depending on the building’s heating system this energy could be used for heating and hot water.

The initial phase will begin shortly with the first twenty turbines due to be installed in the coming weeks. When the development phase is complete the project is expected to save at least 5000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year and over 100,000 tonnes for the full life of the project.

The turbines used come from Kingspan Wind and are less than 20m tall. They are built in Scotland have were selected due to their ability to withstand the high wind speeds the islands receive as well blending in well with the surrounding countryside.

Earlier in 2015 Scottish Equity Partners (SEP) confirmed they would invest up to £9 million in Hasmin Wind to oversea the instillation of as many as 200 small scale turbines at high wind speed locations in the Highlands and Island of Scotland.

Peter Bachmann, director at SEP, said the area has “vast renewable energy potential” and the project will “help remote communities”.

He added: “With the installation of a 6kw turbine the host is able to save up to £3,000 per annum in electricity costs. Orkney is already one of the world’s greenest islands in terms of renewable energy generation so it was a natural starting point.”

Projects like these are extremely beneficial to the landowners, the developer, the funder, and ultimately the environment. Even relatively small projects all add up to making a difference when it comes to reducing the environmental impact of energy generation.

According the UK Met Office climate change is expected to reach an unwanted milestone by the end of the year with warming since pre-industrial times set to go above 1 degree Celsius. In addition 2015 is also set to be hottest on record with temperatures so far eclipsing previous records comfortably.

The World Meteorological Organization then announced that due to the continued burning of fossil fuels 2016 would be the first year in which the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is over 400ppm on average.

This triple blow comes less than month before the Paris UN climate summit where countries will meet in the hope of agreeing a new deal for reducing their carbon emissions.

Data from January to September of this year shows average global temperatures to have risen by 1C. They state that rise is due to increasing carbon emissions combined with eh El Nino climate we are currently experiencing.

They claim that the full year temperature will remain above 1C for 2015. In 2014 this figure was below 0.9C showing a steep increase in relative climate terms.

Stephen Belcher, director of the Met Office’s Hadley Centre, said “This is the first time we’re set to reach the 1C marker and it’s clear that it is human influence driving our modern climate into uncharted territory, we have passed the halfway mark to the 2C target.”

This announcement is expected to increase pressure on negotiators to agree a robust deal on carbon emissions with the aim of preventing calamitous global warming.

Amber Rudd, the UK’s energy and climate change secretary, said: “Climate change is one of the most serious threats we face, not just to the environment, but to our economic prosperity, poverty eradication and global security. That’s why I want an agreement on a global deal in Paris. Pledges to reduce emissions made by countries [are] just the beginning. We need to ensure that as the costs of clean energy fall, countries can be more ambitious with their climate targets.”

Central England Temperature record, which dates back to 1772 clearly shows climate change. Ed Hawkins, a climate scientist at the University of Reading said “We can see the fingerprint of global warming in our own backyard. Central England has warmed 20% more than the global average [as land warms faster than oceans] and we expect that to continue.”

The UK’s Avoid project submitted further research last week which showed that compared to unrestrained global warming below 2C would reduce heat waves by 89%, flooding by 76%, crop land decline by 41% and water stress by 26%.

The report from the Met Office also states that we are two thirds of the way through our carbon budget. This is the maximum amount of additional carbon dioxide we can add to atmosphere to keep the temperature increase below 2C.

All off which seems to make the UK government’s policy changes regarding renewable energy all the stranger. To add to that a recent government survey shows that the UK population’s support for renewable energy is still high.

The quarterly survey of over 2,100 showed that support for renewable energy increased slightly to 76% with just 5% opposed to renewables and 1% strongly opposed.

Support for onshore wind rose by one percentage point to 66 per cent, while support for both offshore wind and marine energy remained at 73 per cent. Solar power remained the UK’s most popular energy source with 80 per cent of respondents saying they were in favour of its use.

Speaking of the results Leonie Greene, head of external affairs at the Solar Trade Association said “These very high levels of public support for solar show yet again that this sunshine technology is the nation’s favourite source of energy.

“This is also shown by the more than 55,000 responses to the Feed-in Tariff public consultation received by DECC – an unprecedented number showing the widespread outrage and these extreme cuts.”

“No other technology empowers consumers and communities to take charge of their energy bill and act on climate change like solar power. By cutting support for solar the government is taking power away from people, organisations and communities all over the UK – and they don’t like it one bit.”

Maf Smith deputy chief executive of RenewableUK agreed, “Ordinary people see renewables as a British success story and want to see us increasing their use further.

“We hope that ministers will look at these figures carefully and listen to what the thousands of voters who took part in this official government poll are telling them.

“The costs of onshore and offshore wind are falling rapidly. Onshore wind is one of the cheapest of all sources of electricity, so we need it kept in the energy mix to drive our fuel bills down. Support for offshore wind remains sky-high too, and backing for renewables overall is also increasing.”

With innovative community projects, strong public support, and a worrying global temperature rise there is much pointing us towards the positive contribution renewable energy can make on our environment and lives.

Also with costs coming down the level of support required for these technologies is not as much as it once was. However some support is still needed in order to improve the technology further and put us in the enviable position of renewable sources producing the majority of energy.

With that we would no longer be reliant on expensive imported energy sources while at the same protecting our environment. In this situation everybody wins, well maybe except the 1% that “strongly oppose.”

 

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