Further new renewable technology is being developed in Scotland with Borders based company Water Engine Technologies starting development on a unique water engine which will provide hydro-electric power to the local community.

Based at the former Caddonfoot Primary School in Galashiels in the Scottish Borders The company is working with several Borders communities with a view to making use of the watercourse infrastructure used so well by the local mills 100 years ago. The water engine is built next to the waterway, so no dam has to be built. It also creates high-pressure fluid which can be used in a number of other applications, such as water irrigation, water treatment and desalination using reverse osmotic filters.

The convener of Scottish Borders Council, Councillor Graham Garvie, visited the development to cut the first sod of the project. Euan Robson, chairman of Water Engine Technologies speaking at the event said: “We much appreciate Councillor Garvie’s personal interest in our unique device, the water engine, which can operate on a low and medium head of water. “We are also grateful to Scottish Borders Council and SEPA for granting the necessary permissions.”

Stan Johnston Water Engine Technologies’ CEO said: “Operating from our base at Caddonfoot, we aim to install a number of water engines in the Borders and further afield in Scotland in the next few months to deliver renewable electricity, both for our customer’s own use and to export to the grid. Beyond that, we see an export market for our machines.

“The water engine’s unique float and pressure technology means that it can operate efficiently in places where conventional water turbines and Archimedes screws cannot. “Also, it can be adapted to pump and clean water, which will have major benefits in overseas markets.”

Also in Scotland it was announced the University of St. Andrews have gone into partnership with Scot Heat & Power to supply the biomass fuel as part of their £25 million green energy project.

Scot Heat & Power will supply locally sourced wood to the Guardbridge Energy Centre – a biomass renewable development on the site of the former Curtis Fine Papers Mill – which is part of the University’s plan to become the first carbon neutral university in the UK.

The plant will use the wood to produce hot water which will be stored on site before being pumped to the university’s North Haugh Campus to heat and cool its academic, administration, and residential buildings.

The biomass facility, likely to be fully operational by 2017 will complement plans for a six-turbine wind power development on university land at Kenly, four miles east of St Andrews. Scot Heat & Power managing director Malcolm Snowie said: “In recognising the highly efficient renewable benefits of biomass energy, Scotland’s oldest university has now placed itself at the forefront of green energy innovation, allowing it to reap the rewards of lowered costs and heightened performance.

“It will also firmly place St Andrews in the driving seat as it looks to attain the status of first university to reach such an important accolade in future sustainability. “We are certain that the project will deliver a strong environmental return for decades to come, more than repaying the confidence that has been invested in it.”

Scotland is now becoming the go to area for new innovative renewable energy projects. Over the past months we have discussed new hydro schemes, local heat districts, energy storage and most recently, tidal power in which we are setting landmarks and quickly becoming the world leader. It cannot be a coincidence that we were pioneers in hydro-electric power post World War II, have a mature and established wind industry plus have a supportive government.

We believe that there will be many more renewable energy innovations and landmarks to come in the coming years and expect many of them to be based in Scotland. We have the natural resources, the infrastructure, the support, the knowledge, the man power and most importantly the desire to succeed.

 

Hydro-electric power in Scotland

Green Highland Renewables, a Scottish company which specialises in the development of small to medium scale hydro-electric schemes recently announced they are commissioning ten new projects across the Scottish Highlands and Grampian regions over the next few months including a state of the art £13.6 million project at Loch Eilde Mor slated to commence construction in 2017.

The company’s ambitious construction programme has already generated £55 million for the Highland economy with £120 million invested by the company in the region since 2010.

Mark Mathieson, chief executive at Green Highland Renewables, said: “A major tranche of schemes will commission this month in order to meet feed-in tariff deadlines, but we also have a full order book for 2017 with more than £40 million planned investment in the pipeline.

“It is a very exciting place to be, and we are continually innovating in how we deliver schemes.

“Our project at Loch Arkaig boasts one of the biggest Archimedes screw installations in the UK, whilst at Loch Tay we have run a submarine cable across the loch at 150 metres depth – greater than found in most of the North Sea.

“The majority of spend in hydro goes on civil construction, and for us the lion’s share goes to local construction firms and contractors.”

However Mr. Mathieson also issued a warning regarding the future of new hydro-electric projects in the UK.

“All of our projects have secured a feed-in tariff from the UK Government, and the only sad note is that the cuts to hydro tariffs announced last year means there will be near to zero new Highland schemes coming forward for construction from 2018 onwards. We expect 80% of all hydro jobs will be gone by 2020.”

With the news that the UK government has opted to construct the Hinckley C Power plant and therefore promote nuclear energy as their primary non-carbon based energy source the chances for long term renewable energy generation long term growth just got a lot slimmer.

In Scotland we have infinite renewable energy sources and with generations set to reduce by 30% over the next few years it is disappointing that we won’t be utilising them to their full potential.

At ILI Energy we believe in a healthy energy mix containing many different elements of non-carbon based energy however with the cost of re-energising our nuclear industry set to run into several billion pounds the complete dropping of future renewable energy projects seems to lack foresight.

The arrival of industrial energy storage will hopefully give renewable generation the boost it needs in order to once again increase its capacity and be able to offer all consumers clean cost effective energy at all times.

 

Scotland: Home of the world’s first tidal farm

Recently we discussed the first ever export of power to the grid via a tidal turbine in at Bluemill Sound in the Shetland Isles and in a short space of time we have moved on again as this week the world’s first large scale tidal energy farm was launched in the Pentland Firth, north of Inverness.

At a ceremony in Inverness attended by Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon the first 15m tall turbine for the MeyGen tidal stream project were unveiled. With a blade length of 16m diameter it is the first of four turbines to be installed with each able to generate 1.5MW. The project however is expected to expand with a potential 269 turbines able to connect to the array generating electricity to power 175,000 homes.

Speaking at the event Miss Sturgeon said “I am incredibly proud of Scotland’s role in leading the way in tackling climate change and investment in marine renewables is a hugely important part of this.

“MeyGen is set to invigorate the marine renewables industry in Scotland and provide vital jobs for a skilled workforce, retaining valuable offshore expertise here in Scotland that would otherwise be lost overseas.”

Maf Smith, the deputy chief executive RenewableUK, said “New technology like this will be powering our nation for decades to come.

“The fact that the first turbine was assembled at what was an oil and gas fabrication yard illustrates the opportunities offered by renewables.

“The official launch of the largest tidal stream energy project in the world marks a significant moment in the commercial development of marine power.”

Tim Cornelius, the chief executive of Atlantis Resources, said “Today marks a historic milestone not just for Atlantis and our project partners, but for the entire global tidal power industry.

“It gives me enormous pride to have reached this juncture after 10 years of tireless work, preparation and planning by everyone associated with this project. This is the day the tidal power industry announced itself as the most exciting new asset class of renewable, sustainable generation in the UK’s future energy mix.

“This is an industry that is creating jobs and Scotland is the undisputed world leader of this high growth sector.”

Jenny Hogan, Director of Policy for Scottish Renewables, said “Scotland has been at the forefront of tidal energy innovation for many years, from design to testing, and now – with the MeyGen project – deployment.

“Our waters have the lion’s share of the UK’s tidal stream resources, so it makes perfect sense that we utilise that advantage by installing devices like those developed by Atlantis.

“In recent weeks we’ve seen Edinburgh-based Nova Innovation ‘switch on’ its second turbine at Bluemull Sound off Shetland and, in Orkney, Scotrenewables announced it had begun testing its SR2000 device at the European Marine Energy Centre.

“This kind of activity has led to the marine energy sector investing well over £200 million in the Scottish economy – with every £1 from public sector funds leveraging £7 from the private sector – and creating around 1,000 jobs in Scotland, with the potential to grow substantially.

“Today’s announcement from Atlantis reinforces the potential of tidal generation to make a significant contribution to the UK’s growing need for clean electricity, and to deliver further investment and jobs to the UK.

“However, this is still an incredibly young technology, and future development is absolutely dependent on continued support from Holyrood, Westminster and Brussels, who have all played a vitally important part in the growth of the sector to date.”

Fabrice Leveque, the climate and energy policy officer at the environmental body WWF Scotland, said “It’s great that Scotland is now home to the world’s first large-scale tidal stream farm. It comes hot on the heels of Shetland tidal devices exporting power to the National Grid for the first time and the testing of the world’s most powerful tidal turbine off Orkney.

“This underlines what we already know, that Scotland has 25% of the EU’s offshore wind and tidal power potential.”

It is exceptional that Scotland is once again leading the way in renewable energy generation. Despite being a relatively small country with a low population and a UK central government which is no longer pro-renewables we continue to push boundaries forward and break new ground in the search of new, better, more reliable energy sources.

It is something we should all be proud of as our combined efforts are helping us achieve carbon emission reductions, long term renewable energy generation, and safer cleaner environment that will benefit us all.

The renewable energy sector in Scotland

A report on the renewable energy industry in Scotland was published by the Scottish Affairs Committee this week. In it the Committee confirms that exceptional growth of the industry this millennium has been a direct result of positive government support. The industry is now estimated to employ 21,000 people and generates 30% of the UK’s renewable electricity from diverse sources including wind, hydro, and biomass.

However the Committee also issued a warning that recent changes in government policy threaten the industry and are likely to undermine the recent successes and damage the sector for the foreseeable future.

Pete Wishart MP, the Committee Chair said “We have urged the government to clarify the future support which will be available to the renewable sector, and set out how they will work with the Scottish Government to develop a clear, long-term plan that will allow renewable energy to remain a central part of the energy mix”.

The Committee however do concede that cutting costs is a challenge that the renewable energy industry must embrace if it is to continue to grow. Last month we discussed the Scottish Renewables report which claims that the cost to produce renewable energy could be reduced by 20%. According to the report the most effective change which could be incorporated to reduce costs is to make the planning system “smarter.”

However the Committee did recognise that planners still have to find a balance between supporting renewable projects and taking into account the concerns of local residents regarding the impact of such developments in particular onshore wind installations

There is also the issue that energy produced from wind turbines may be lost if produced when not required. The most prevalent solution to this is better energy storage and Callum Craig the Energy and Climate Change spokesperson for the SNP in the Westminster parliament has written to Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Energy, urging his department to invest in new technologies to encourage the production and storage of renewable energy and electricity.

Mr Craig said “For the potential of renewable energy to be fully realised we will continue to need newer and better storage technologies; mastering that is the solution to making renewables as attractive financially as they are environmentally.”

The good news is the National Grid has already awarded contracts to eight projects worth £70 million of energy storage to help stabilise the UK Energy system and protect appliances. This is first time that energy storage will be used in this way.

The service is to be provided at an average cost of £9.44/MW and will cut overall costs by £200m. Cordi O’Hara National Grid system operator director said “We are constantly looking to the future to understand how we can make the most of the energy available to us. These awards show that we can work with industry to bring forward new technology and I believe storage has much to contribute to the flexible energy system of tomorrow. This is the beginning of an exciting new chapter for the industry.”

The next evolution of renewable energy generation will be energy storage. As mentioned above the intermittent nature of renewable energy generation can mean that electricity may be wasted if it produced at a time when it is not required. Wind energy is the most productive and most cost effective method of producing renewable energy however it suffers from this issue the most.

The solution is to find new strategies and processes to store this energy and release it into the grid when required. Energy storage is not a new phenomenon, from the battery in a torch to the one in your phone to the one in your car they come in many different shapes and sizes. However the capacity of a battery is determined by its size. For renewable energy developments something on the large scale industrial size is required and that is just not cost effective.

So new and innovative ideas are required and this what we at ILI energy are working on at present as we believe that the marrying of renewable energy generation and large scale energy storage is the combination which will ensure a clean safe positive energy future for everyone.

Tidal Energy Exported: A World First

A new renewable energy milestone was achieved in Scotland this week as for the first time tidal energy exported power to the National Grid. Nova Innovation installed the first turbine at Bluemill Sound in the Shetland Isles in March of this year with the second following in August. The instillation of the second turbine marks the first time that a tidal array has been connected to the grid globally. With tidal energy promising a long term source of predictable renewable energy the announcement has been greeted with delight within the Scottish renewables industry.

Lang Banks, WWF Scotland director said “News that power has been exported to grid for the first time by a pair of tidal devices marks yet another major milestone on Scotland’s journey to becoming a fully renewable nation.

“With some of the most powerful tides in Europe, Scotland is well placed to lead in developing this promising technology, which will help to cut climate emissions and create green jobs right across the country.

“The Scottish Government’s forthcoming energy strategy provides the perfect opportunity to set out a bold vision for how we could become Europe’s fully renewable electricity nation by 2030, ensuring that we secure the maximum economic and social benefits that will arise from a shift toward a zero-carbon economy.”

Jenny Hogan, Director of Policy at Scottish Renewables, said: “Scotland is already at the forefront of capturing power from the tides and waves, and Nova’s latest news demonstrates that lead is well-deserved.

“The country is already home to some of the most advanced marine energy technologies anywhere, as well as the European Marine Energy Centre: arguably the most advanced marine energy proving site in the world.

“With companies like Nova and others all working on developing this cutting-edge technology, the sector holds huge promise for the future.”

A little further south in Orkney Scotrenewables Tidal Power is this week testing its SR2000, said to be the world’s most powerful tidal turbine. The array is being connected to its mooring system at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) test site and is capable of generating 2MW of power – enough for about 1,000 homes over a year.

Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse visited the site earlier this week and said “Scotland’s capacity to generate tidal power is considerable and this device has the potential to be a real game changer for the industry, not only here in Scotland, but across the world.

“Floating technology like this is likely to be easy and cheap to install, maintain and decommission. This will increase the commercial viability of tidal energy, which is crucial as we continue to transition towards a low carbon economy.”

Speaking of the turbine test Lang Banks said: “News that the world’s most powerful tidal turbine is to begin trials in Orkney underlines the important role Scotland currently plays in the development of marine renewables globally.

“We hope the sea trials are successful and the findings are helpful to the wider industry as it seeks to find cost-effective ways to harness the pollution-free power of our seas.”

Andrew Scott, Scotrenewables chief executive said “It’s obviously a critical phase in the project but we’re looking forward to the test programme and providing clear evidence of the significant advantages our technology can bring to the sector whilst offering a step reduction in costs.”

Last month we spoke of Scotland’s record breaking day when wind turbines produced more than 100% of Scotland’s electricity demand. As great as these days are they are rare and with the subsidy reductions leading to massive downturn in new turbine installations these record breaking days are unlikely to be achieved more often.

Therefore alternative sources are required and although it is unlikely that tidal energy will ever be able to supply the grid with its full base load the predictable nature of tides offers a solution that other forms of renewable energy have not been able to do.

Also Scotland has some of the strongest tides in Europe and it this resource which can be used to make tidal energy a key factor in our clean energy mix. However as the technology is very new progress will be slow and it won’t revolutionise the Scottish energy industry just yet. However as Scotland pursues the fully renewable nation ideology it is important that it is at the forefront of new and significant technological advancements within the industry and the tidal projects in Shetland and Orkney are certainly significant.