Renewables Research

Swedish company Vattenfall announced this week a £3 million renewable energy study programme based in Scotland designed to shed new light on how the offshore wind industry impacts the lives of dolphins and other sea life.

Adam Ezzamel, EOWDC project director at Vattenfall, said: “The announcement of these successful projects including three in Scotland is an exciting one, with each having the potential to unlock fascinating new insights into the offshore wind environment and determine influencing environmental factors.”

Three out of four projects sharing the £3 million fund are based in Scotland at the firm’s European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) in Aberdeen and include schemes run by The River Dee Trust and Marine Scotland Science, SMRU Consulting and the University of St Andrews as well as MacArthur Green. Oxford Brookes University was the other successful recipient.

It is believed to be the largest-scale offshore wind research programme of its kind and will “put Scotland at the industry forefront” of research and development, according to Vattenfall.

The individual projects will be carried out at by different consultants with the final data collated by Vattenfall. SMRU Consulting and the University of St Andrews are working towards improving the understanding of bottlenose dolphin movements along the east coast of Scotland. MacArthur Green, based in Glasgow, will focus on reducing uncertainty in the future of auk seabirds near offshore wind farms. The River Dee Trust and Marine Scotland Science study looks at the interactions between salmon and sea trout with offshore wind technology. Finally Oxford Brookes will investigate the socio-economic impact of the energy source on the human environment.

Paul Wheelhouse, Scottish Government minister for business, innovation and energy, said: “The research will strengthen our scientific understanding of the potential environmental impacts of offshore wind generation and their socio-economic impacts too.

“It is very positive news that three of the four successful project bids were from Scottish organisations, which underlines Scotland’s expertise in providing robust science which can protect and enhance the biodiversity of our seas and also aid our understanding of offshore wind projects on communities and our economy.”

Almost 100 applications were submitted for the research programme, with a shortlist of 16 selected by a specialist scientific panel which included representatives of Vattenfall, Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group, Marine Scotland Science, Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, RSPB Scotland, the Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, and The Crown Estate.

In other Scottish renewable energy new it has been revealed by industry group Scottish Renewables that Scottish sewers produce enough discarded and natural heat to warm a city as big as Glasgow for over four months per year according to new research.

They claim  that 921 million litres of wastewater and sewage were flushed down toilets and plugholes in Scotland daily and with the water in the sewers potentially as warm as 21 degrees Celsius, the environmental group said capturing and using its warmth could be the equivilant of 10,000 tonnes of CO2 entering the atmosphere via carbon based heat.

Figures produced for Scottish Renewables by Scottish Water Horizons showed how the energy potential of sewers could be captured using technologies such as heat pumps and waste water recovery systems.

“These new figures show the enormous scale of the energy we are literally flushing away every day,” Scottish Renewables’ policy manager, Stephanie Clark, said in a statement.

“Water which is used in homes and businesses collects heat from the air around it, as in a toilet cistern, or is heated, as in dishwashers and showers,” Clark added.

“That’s in addition to the energy that it gains from the sun when stored in reservoirs. Technology now exists which allows us to capture that energy, and waste heat can play an important role in helping us reach our challenging climate change targets.”

Scottish Water Horizons’ business development manager, Donald MacBrayne, said that water flushed down the drain at homes and businesses represented a significant source of thermal energy.

“Usually, this heat is lost during the treatment process and when treated effluent is returned to the environment,” he said. “By tapping into this resource using heat recovery technology we can provide a sustainable heating solution which brings cost, carbon, and wider environmental benefits.”

The innovative idea of using waste-water to help heat our homes is the type of project we must be aiming to implement if we are to reach our carbon emission reduction targets. As the onshore wind industry is no longer producing new developments on the scale seen previously we must think out of the box in order to come up viable new projects.

Using waste water which would ordinarily be well wasted is one such idea however the technology required in order to establish such systems will not come cheap. That is why industry and government alike must all be pulling in the same direction if such projects are to become a reality.

Scottish Farming community capitalise on Government Energy Strategy

The ILI Group, who are based in Hamilton, and are one of Scotland’s leading renewable energy developers has launched a bond which gives landowners and farmers the opportunity to get involved in what will be one of the country’s largest development projects. When it comes to fruition it will provide up to 1.2 gigawatts of clean renewable energy to the grid and construct up to 5000 energy efficient homes at various locations throughout the country.

The ILI Group of companies have worked with landowners and the farming community for the past fourteen years and have built up a strong reputation for attaining successful planning applications for renewable energy projects throughout the country.

Sister company ILI (Renewable Energy) was set up in 2009 to exclusively deal with single wind turbine developments and achieved 96 successful planning consents, more than any other company in Scotland.

Intelligent Land Investments set up in 2004 dealt exclusively with residential projects and has two in North Lanarkshire in the final stages of the planning process and expect to deliver over 550 houses this year.

However with the single wind turbine market slowing down CEO Mark Wilson has created an opportunity for  landowners and farmers to share in the returns that Energy storage and residential can achieve.

“Energy storage will be the next step in achieving full energy security” Mr Wilson said. “The Scottish Government’s consultation on our energy future highlights the need for effective and reliable energy storage solutions throughout the country. We believe that pumped storage hydro offers the best solution as it is the most advanced and most proven of all storage options.

“It works by having two large bodies of water, with one set above the other. During peak times when a large amount of energy is required water drops from the higher reservoir to the lower through a series of turbines generating the necessary electricity. Then during off peak times, most likely at night, renewable energy surplus mainly from onshore wind is used to pump the water back up to the top reservoir essentially creating a massive battery.

“The technology his well proven and can last for over 100 years. We are working closely with a number of landowners in Scotland plus have support from industry leaders such as SSE, Scottish Water, Aecom and many others.

“At the same time we are expanding our residential arm and have secured new sites with high potential for development as well as continuing to source others. Scotland’s need for new homes has been well documented and with the focus now on energy efficiency our plans for new developments fall very much into that category.

“Our plan is to include a renewable heat source as well as the latest energy efficiency technologies in all our residential developments.”

ILI Group CEO Mark Wilson continued “We have worked with many landowners over the years, providing income to those on whose land our projects were developed however unfortunately not all sites were suitable for development. In our view too many missed out on this welcome income due to unsuitable land so for this new project we are offering landowners and farmers exclusive access to a bond issue which will part fund the project and give them a share in the profits.

“With onshore wind we created over £61M of construction work and over £234 million of future revenue. The majority of these projected were funded by big corporate companies. This time we are giving all the landowners and farmers the opportunity to reap these big returns”

“We are extremely proud of what have achieved and what we have planned for the future. The bond purchase will give all landowners and farmers the opportunity to make three times their investment which is fantastic but the norm for big London funds”

The response has gone beyond our expectations which shows the foresight of the Scottish farming community.

For more information on the ILI Group and the bond purchase please contact Andrew Hughes at the company’s Hamilton office on 01698 891352 or by e-mail to ah@ili-energy.com

The 50% renewable target

Industry body Scottish Renewables recently submitted its response to the consultation on Scotland’s draft Energy Strategy, as well as its response to the government’s draft Onshore Wind Policy Statement.

In their response they stated that the draft Energy Strategy shows an ambitious vision for the country’s future energy system but ministers need to back it up with “clear actions.”

Within the draft Energy Strategy, originally released in April, the government set out a target of half of all energy used should be generated from renewable sources. While the new targets have been welcomed by Scottish Renewables, Lindsay Roberts, senior policy manager said it is “imperative” that the government provides “clear action plans” to show how these changes can be achieved.

“That certainty – particularly in the heat sector, which faces significant challenges – would provide confidence in market opportunities and help stimulate the private sector investments required for the targets to be met,” she said.

Concerning Onshore Wind, the industry body said it promotes further onshore wind development as “central to achieving our climate change targets at the lowest cost”. It also highlighted key areas where the Scottish Government could affect cost reductions and further facilitate a route to market for the technology, particularly in relation to the planning regime.

Scottish Renewables also highlighted other key areas in the draft Energy Strategy including;

The Scottish Government maximising the use of the devolved policy levers it has available – such as planning, public procurement, building standards, business rates, innovation and project funding – to deliver the Strategy’s aims

The Energy Strategy to target the installation of more than double current levels of renewable energy capacity by 2030, describing this as “a low-regrets option

The introduction of further targets setting out the proportion of heat to be delivered from renewable and low-carbon sources

Support for a refresh of the Scottish Government’s existing transport strategy to maximise the electrification and decarbonisation of the transport system.

Ms Roberts said: “The creation of a 2030 50% ‘all-energy’ target was suggested by Scottish Renewables in our manifesto for last year’s Scottish Parliament election and is supported by all parties in the Scottish Parliament.

“Including that target in the final Energy Strategy would ensure that renewables can play a key role in meeting our climate change targets while maximising the jobs and investment that our sector can bring to Scotland.

“Our response to the consultation also calls for a renewed focus on the decarbonisation of heat and transport – which are crucial if we are to meet our climate change goals – as well as the need to maximise our green energy generation capacity to help deliver this.

“We now look forward to seeing more detail on how the strategy will be delivered in practice and working with the Scottish Government on our joint aims for the future of Scotland’s energy sector.”

With the consultation period for the draft Energy Strategy coming to a close its timing could not have been planned better with National Grid announcement that renewable sources of energy have generated more electricity than coal and gas in the UK for the first time.

They announced that on Wednesday (7th of June) power from wind, solar, hydro and wood pellet burning supplied 50.7% of all UK energy. With the addition of nuclear, low carbon sources were producing 72.1% of electricity in the UK by mid-afternoon.

The weather at the time was the perfect combination for renewable energy generation with it being both sunny and windy. Similar weather patterns throughout Northern Europe have meant records for wind power being set across the region.

The National Grid, the body that owns and manages the power supply around the UK, tweeted: “For the first time ever this lunchtime wind, nuclear and solar were all generating more than both gas and coal combined.” At the time of Wednesday’s record, 1% of demand was met by storage.

“It’s a sign of how things are changing – coal is coming off and renewables are growing,” said Maf Smith, the deputy chief executive of trade body RenewableUK.

To achieve 50% of all energy generated from renewable sources is fantastic and we congratulate all that were involved to reach this milestone. However as noted above there has been a perfect combination of records which brought us to this point this week.

In order to maintain this level of generation more must be done in terms of new policies and projects. This is where we agree with Scottish Renewables proposals and hope that the government takes heed in terms of what is required.

With energy storage set to expand quickly over the coming months and years the opportunity for renewable energy to establish itself as the consistent number one provider of energy in the UK is very real. We just need both government and industry driving in the same direction and an unending supply of clean energy can be realised for all.

A renewable target

In a report published last week entitled Switching on; how renewables will power the UK; Friends of the Earth predict that with falling energy costs and advances in storage technology renewables could provide 75 per cent of the country’s power by 2030.

The report estimates 65% of the UK’s power will come from renewable sources such as wind and solar by 2030 with a further 10% coming from less variable sources, like tidal, hydro and geothermal.

Also in the report Friends of the Earth state the UK has gone from 7% renewable electricity generated to 25% in six years with no blackouts, a warning claimed  by those that oppose renewable energy claimed would be a regular feature of our new supply.

They also warn new nuclear facilities are unlikely to be built in time and along with large-scale biomass “has significant environmental issues and so should be minimised and phased out”.

Alasdair Cameron  of Friends of the Earth and the report’s author “It’s increasingly recognised that renewables like wind and solar are among the cheapest options for generating power in the UK, and it is also clear that they can be the foundation of a stable and reliable energy system.

“If we get this right, we should be able to provide at least three quarters of our electricity from renewable sources by 2030, decarbonising our power supply, as well as driving down costs and maintaining reliability.”

However for this to be achieved the report calls for the energy market to be reformed and outdated regulatory barriers removed to allow storage and demand side response to compete on a level playing field with other sources of generation.

It also calls on Ofgem to establish clear operating and performance standards for storage. “This sector is where the smart money is going,” added Cameron. “With just weeks to go before a general election, it’s a good time to pressure candidates so that the next government reforms the energy market to give power to consumers and communities”.

While large scale biomass may have environmental issues the same model on a smaller scale can still add to a positive renewable energy mix. Those on a micro scale, serving a local community, can provide renewable energy with minimal impact to the environment.

Projects like the former sweet factory site in Hawick in the Scottish Borders which is to become home to a new zero-waste facility being built in conjunction with the new £10m Borders Distillery.

Scottish Borders Council chief granted permission for the £3m plant to be constructed incorporating an anaerobic digester, incoming feeds and balance tank, a main equipment building housing a laboratory and an office and boiler room.

All those facilities are needed to ensure the development of the adjacent distillery, granted planning approval last year. The bio plant site is situated on the western side of the development, with the distillery, currently under construction, being on the north. In their report the council planners said “The site was formerly occupied by the sweet factory but all the buildings on that site have been demolished as part of the distillery development.

“The proposal is to install a bio plant to provide a zero-waste facility in association with the adjacent facility. This would comprise an anaerobic digester that would take the co-products generated by the distillery to convert them into biogas that will be converted into energy to be used for heat and power within the distillery”.

The report also reveals that screens will be put up to prevent a negative visual impact on the surrounding area. “The development is industrial in appearance with the majority of the structures constructed to steel with a grey finish. The main issue is the visual impact of the structures when viewed from Commercial Road and from the opposite side of Teviot and also on the setting of the adjacent listed building, which houses the distillery and visitors’ centre.

“A scheme has been designed to partially screen the development by erecting a brick wall along the frontage, with the brick chosen to match the stone of the distillery building, although the structures would be clearly visible above this.”

The development received a warm welcome from the town’s elected representatives, with councillor Watson McAteer declaring it “just what the town needs”.

The buildings on the land in Commercial Road date back to the early part of the last century. The finest of these is the complex built in 1900 to house Hawick Urban Electricity Company, consisting of a two-storey stone administration block with two industrial stone-built sheds to the rear and a courtyard between. By 1938, the factory had seven boilers and a facility to store electricity generated by water power.

After 1945, the new national grid made local supply increasingly irrelevant, and the works were wound down and sold to the council in 1945. They were subsequently passed on to Turnbull and Scott, which manufactured heat exchangers there until six years ago.

As industrial patterns continue to shift in the UK new developments making use of previous industrial buildings and locations that benefit the local community are vital for both economical and environmental reasons.

Projects such as the Hawick zero waste facility will bring both jobs to the community as well having a positive environmental impact. Local authorities have to strike a balance between serving their constituents and protecting the local environment and developments such as the zero waste plant do both.