Cost saving with renewable energy

Last week as part of their Sustainability Day the NHS announced they had saved over £300 million in energy costs due to implementing a number of new efficiency and sustainability measures including saving over £1 million tonnes of carbon emissions. The measures included installing a number of renewable energy generation developments onsite.

NHS Trusts and health boards across the UK have adopted energy conservation measures and onsite renewable generation such as combined heat and power (CHP).

That includes York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust installing 1.2MW and 1.3MW CHP engines as well as upgrading their lighting.

They have been procured through the NHS Carbon and Energy Fund and underpinned by energy performance contracts with Vital Energi, which guarantee minimum financial savings and carbon reductions for the duration of the contracts, varying between 15 to 25 years.

Ashley Malin, Project Development Director at Vital Energi said: “The NHS is under a lot of pressure to cut costs but most hospitals need to update their infrastructure and address serious maintenance backlogs.

“The fact that just 14 hospitals can generate over £300 million in savings and one million tonnes of carbon reduction is a great indicator of how much potential there is in the NHS, with regards to revolutionising the way it generates and uses its energy.”

The NHS is to be applauded for taking this action to help counteract the effects of global warming. However at time when cost cutting measures are being sought throughout the service it makes financial sense to adopt the measures they did. These savings can hopefully be transferred into a greater level of care for the patients.

It was also announced last week that a Scottish manufacturer of solar panels is the only company of its kind in Europe to have been selected to work on an EU wide project which will promote the development of renewable technology.

The company AES solar of Forres in Moray received £250,000 to provide its expertise in the design of solar thermal and solar PV systems.  They will work alongside other researchers and companies who specialise in other renewable measures in Spain, Italy, Denmark, Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland, Belgium in what is called the Heat4Cool project.

Grant Feasey, senior design engineer at AES Solar, said: “I’m thoroughly enjoying the work on the Heat4Cool project. It is fantastic that we have been selected and are able to contribute our expertise. It’s a real accolade for us that we were the solar company that were selected to represent solar from thousands of companies and researchers in the whole of Europe. It just reaffirms that AES Solar are the experts when it goes to solar installations.”

Grant who has already attended one meeting in Brussels and will soon be heading to Bilbao for the next added: “The purpose of the project is to create a fully integrated system using all the different renewable measures available, making them work together in the best way,” he added. “It means we are working with high level partners across Europe and are networking with top industry players. It will also give us new expertise in other renewable energies and will mean that we can identify more opportunities for the business.

“One of the most exciting parts of the project for us is that will be working on four buildings throughout Europe. Two are actual homes and two are test centres. We will be physically installing systems in these premises to test the technologies we are developing with the other partners on the project. The idea being that by the end of the project there will be one super, fully integrated renewable system that can be replicated across Europe.”

The success of AES Solar once again shows Scotland to be a leading figure in the renewable energy industry. With our generation figures continuing to grow and our research and development constantly finding newer more efficient methods for production we are respected throughout the world for our expertise and achievements.

Having plentiful resources help but for a small country we are doing really well and can be proud of what we have achieved so far.

 

The Impact of Energy Efficiency

A new report from the Committee on Climate Change has claimed that Britain’s low carbon energy revolution is saving money for households. It states that households are making a net saving of £11 a month. Taking into account wind and solar subsidies which add approximately £9 to the average bill energy efficiency is saving households £20.

This downward trend has been driven by government and EU standards for appliances, boilers, and light bulbs. The new technology these include reduce both carbon emissions and energy bills and therefore upgrading a TV or fridge freezer can have a positive effect on both.

“What’s interesting,” said the committee chair Lord Deben, “is that people aren’t having to strive to make these savings. They could save much more energy if they consciously set about it.”

The report also states that home energy bills are approximately £115 less since the Climate Change Act in 2008 having risen for the four years previous to that due to rising international gas prices. In addition gas and electricity use have been cut by 23% and 17% respectively, saving the average household £290 a year.

Despite a number of savings already been initiated due to the replacement of inefficient devices the Committee remain confident more can and will be done with further reductions of £150 predicted to happen in the years leading to 2030. A mass switch to LED bulbs plus a full take-up of more efficient condensing gas boilers would be the expected driving factors in such reductions.

This further saving would again compensate for an additional £100 rise from increased renewable energy generation.

An area which requires particular attention however is home insulation with twice the current levels of government investment required in order for targets to be met.

A recent report from the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee said energy bills had been pushed up by “poorly designed government interventions in pursuit of decarbonisation”.

It said energy security rather than decarbonisation should be the priority with committee chair Lord Hollick stating “It’s a very high price that is being paid for renewables.”

However the climate committee claim this analysis was unfair because it wrongly blamed renewables for rises in wholesale energy costs between 2004-2008. The committee insist that from 2008, when renewables policy started to bite, household bills have been more or less stable.

Lord Deben confirmed that household bills in the UK were around average for Europe however he did agree with the Lords committee that industry bills were too high, and urged ministers to examine whether the transmission networks or the wholesale electricity market are to blame.

The government welcomed the report and said new policies on insulating homes would emerge before long.

Claire Jakobsson from the manufacturers’ organization EEF said: “While the Committee is right to say low-carbon policies may not be the only factor reducing industrial output in some sectors, we believe it is a significant one – and one where government can act, especially in respect of costs which our competitors don’t face.”

Iain Wright MP, Chair of the Commons Business and Energy Committee, said: “The government must be mindful of the burden that decarbonisation policies can place on businesses and ensure that they remain competitive but the big energy companies are too quick to blame green policies from government for unjustifiable price increases. There are enormous opportunities in the UK moving to a low carbon economy.”

Whilst the increased usage of renewable energy generation has helped reduce both our carbon emissions Scottish Renewables chief executive Niall Stuart has claimed that the industry is at a crossroads.

Speaking ahead of the Scottish Renewables Annual Conference, which takes place on 21 and 22 March in Edinburgh he said: “On one hand, we see the potential for continued growth for parts of the sector, built on lower costs and a phased reduction in government support.”

“On the other, we see well-established technologies, such as onshore wind and solar, facing stagnation as a result of sudden and drastic changes to the very support schemes which have made renewables Scotland’s main source of electricity.”

Although we agree with the sentiment of the committee’s report we do not believe that in the current political climate anything will change with regards a new subsidy for onshore wind or solar.

We do hope that when things are more settled and the positive environmental impact renewable energy generation and carbon emission reduction has is plain to be seen for all that developments and subsequently renewable generation once again grows at a fast pace ensure clean safe energy for more and more of us.

Scotland’s wind continues to break generation records

Scotland rewrote the record books for electricity generated by wind power as in February this year the country’s turbines produced enough electricity to power four million homes, 1,330,000 megawatt hours of electricity.

This is up 43% on February 2016 and keeps up the ongoing year by year increase. However with few new developments it will be interesting to see how these figures pan out over the next few years.

Karen Robinson, of WeatherEnergy, which compiled the figures, said: “As we began to witness for the first time last year, this February has also seen a few days where the power output from wind farms exceeded the total electricity demand for an entire day. This is quite an achievement.

“With the increasing occurrence of 100% wind power days’ there can be little doubt that Scotland is well-placed to begin the next step of increasing the role that renewables could play in cutting carbon emissions from its transport and heating sectors.”

Lang Banks, director of WWF Scotland, stressed the importance of wind energy to the Scottish economy and efforts to reduce the greenhouse gases that are causing climate change.

“As well as helping to power our homes and businesses, wind power supports thousands of jobs and helps Scotland to avoid over a million tonnes of polluting carbon emissions every month,” he said.

He urged politicians to do more to help the transition to a low-carbon economy.

“Every one of the main political parties supports the aim of generating half of all Scotland’s energy needs from renewables by 2030 – including heat, electricity and transport,” Mr Banks said.

“With this level of political backing, we call upon all of the parties to now bring forward policies that will help maximise the benefits to Scotland’s economy, as we transition to a renewable future.”

Also reported in Scotland this week a European consortium, led by Edinburgh-based tidal energy firm Nova Innovation, has secured €4.4 million (£3.8m) in funding to help towards commercialising technology designed to significantly cut the costs of generating energy from the sea. The funding from the European Commission will pay for the construction and testing of a device to convert the mechanical power in a tidal turbine rotor into electricity that is exported into the grid.

Simon Forrest, managing director of Nova Innovation, said: “This will be a major step forward for the global sector and significantly drive down the lifetime cost of tidal ­energy.”

Unfortunately it is not all good news though as industry body Scottish Renewables warned its members were expecting their workforce to shrink by 16.9 per cent over the next 12 months. That’s approximately one in every six industry employee likely to be out of work within a year.

Jenny Hogan, Scottish Renewables’ policy director, said one of the main problems was the UK Government was refusing to allow onshore wind and solar energy to bid against fossil fuel companies for long-term contracts to supply electricity.

“These results show that changes to and closures of support schemes are having an impact on our members and on the numbers of employees within their businesses,” she said.

“The UK Government is rightly excited about the economic opportunities presented by the impacts of the global shift to low-carbon energy, but it’s really important we don’t forget about the jobs in our renewable energy sector today.

“Onshore wind and solar are the two cheapest forms of electricity, but ministers are refusing to allow them to access long-term contracts for power, which will result in a marked slowdown in investment and a decrease in employment, as our survey has suggested.”

ILI Energy is part of the Scottish renewable energy industry and in particular wind turbine development and we have witnessed this slowdown first hand.  Consultants, developers, operators and the majority of companies that work in our industry here in Scotland have had to reduce their workforce and reduce spending.

However without the long term commitment from government the value in individual projects and subsequently the industry overall will continue to reduce having an adverse effect on all involved.

Yet we have demonstrated again and again that there is value in what we as an industry does, both economically and environmentally. With the correct incentives we can continue to grow and ultimately provide clean cost effective electricity for the entire country while selling on the surplus to eager customers.

Lithium-ion based energy storage

Danish Technology company ABB announced this week the successful commissioning of Denmark’s first urban energy storage system in the form of a Lithion-ion based battery energy storage system (BESS). The project, commissioned by Radius, DONG Energy’s electrical grid division, will be integrated with the local electricity grid in the new harbour district of Nordhavn, Copenhagen.

Giandomenico Rivetti, Managing Director of ABB’s High Voltage Products business unit said “We are delighted to implement this innovative solution which will help improve the security of power supplies and further support Denmark’s integration of renewable energy. This is an excellent example of ABB’s strategy of being able to supply eco-efficient and innovative solutions to the energy sector.

“As one of the key players in the smart energy revolution, ABB sees energy storage solutions as key part of the future grid in order to efficiently utilise renewable energy.”

In Denmark renewable energy sources such as wind and solar generate the majority of electricity supplied to the grid so this new battery storage system will play a major role on the country’s energy system. Due to the intermittent nature of renewable energy production the storage facility will be a key element of energy supply. ABB’s flexible and modular system can be used for different functionalities such as peak load shaving and frequency response.

“By integrating battery storage in Nordhavn we have the opportunity to learn more about how new technological solutions and market mechanisms interact with the grid,” said Knud Pedersen, Chairman of the Board at Radius, “I expect, that battery technology, on the longer horizon, holds the potential to reduce the load on the grid and make it run more cost-efficiently.”

The battery energy storage system is part of the “EnergyLab Nordhavn” project implemented in the Nordhavn district of Copenhagen. The project aims to develop and demonstrate energy solutions of the future. This includes providing valuable knowledge to help realize a more flexible and sustainable electricity grid with large amounts of renewable energy. These solutions are crucial for reaching the ambitious goal of turning Copenhagen into the world’s first carbon neutral capital in 2025.

“EnergyLab Nordhavn – new urban energy infrastructures” is a four-year project (2015-19) developing future energy solutions. It uses Nordhavn as an urban living laboratory and demonstrates how electricity, district heating, energy-efficient solutions and electrical transport can be combined into an intelligent, flexible and highly-optimised energy system. The project partners include The Technical University of Denmark, City of Copenhagen, By & Havn, HOFOR, Radius, ABB, Balslev, Danfoss, Clean Charge, METROTHERM, Glen Dimplex and the PowerLab facilities. Funding for the project is supported by the Danish Energy Agency.

In the UK this week VLC Energy, a joint venture formed by VPI Immingham and renewable investment fund Low Carbon, announced a similar project albeit on a larger scale with the total amount of energy storage capacity expected to be 50MW.

The joint venture between the two has been set up to fund early stage energy storage and renewable energy projects in the UK to complement VPI Immingham’s existing combined heat and power (CHP) generation. It is as part of this project that they intend to build two large-scale energy storage plants in Cleator in Cumbria and Glassenbury in Kent, with a combined capacity of 50MW (35MWh). The intention is then to have both connected to the grid by the end of the year.

Low Carbon CEO Roy Bedlow said: “Renewable energy is playing an increasingly important role in the UK’s energy mix and as this role expands, the development of energy storage plants will be central to the future success of the UK’s energy network.

“Furthermore, by actively building a robust portfolio of renewable energy projects at scale, we are substantively challenging the causes of climate change, while helping to meet the growing demand for renewable energy in the UK.”

The two projects will feature LG Chem lithium batteries and NEC management systems. VPI Immingham chairman and member of Vitol executive committee Russell Hardy said: “Batteries perfectly complement renewables and gas and together offer a cleaner, more efficient energy future for the UK.”

As with the Danish model when operational the two plants are expected to enhance National Grid’s ability to manage surges in supply from renewable energy sources as well as provide enhanced frequency response to the UK electricity grid among other services.

As renewable energy makes up a significant amount of our energy mix reliable energy storage is the next step to increasing our renewable capacity by negating the intermittency issue. At ILI Energy we have already commenced on our own energy storage project with pumped storage hydro.

However we appreciate that a mix of storage solutions will be required in order to maximise our renewable energy output. Therefore we are delighted to see lithium-ion based technology make the leap onto the commercial grid both here in the UK and in Denmark.

As the technology advances and costs reduce we can envision numerous lithium based storage facilities appearing throughout the grid network. As this will in part help secure our clean energy future projects such as these have our full support.