Good News for Scottish Renewables Industry

There was much good news for the Scottish Renewables Industry this week; not only was it revealed that Scotland’s interim renewable energy generation target has been surpassed but also a report was published which revealed the impact the fledgling industry is having on the country’s employment levels.

The Scottish Government had set a target for 31% of the country’s electric energy demand to be met by renewables by this year; currently renewables are providing 35% of the electricity used in the country. The 35% figure has been achieved by an increase in installed capacity in a variety of renewable technologies. For instance, in 2011 there was 7049 GWh (Giga-watt hours) of electricity produced from wind turbines. This was an increase of 45% from 2010 and more than double the amount generated from wind in 2007.

Hydro-electricity also saw it’s best ever year for electricity generation; producing 5310 GWh of energy. This was an increase of 62.6% from 2010 although it should be noted that 2010 was a year of comparatively low rain fall. However it was still an increase of 8.9% compared to 2009 levels; 2009 was hydro-electricity’s previous best year.

The news that the interim generation target had been surpassed was greeted with much enthusiasm. Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing remarked:

“It’s official – 2011 was a record breaker, with enough green electricity being produced in Scotland to comfortably beat our interim target. And Scotland met almost 40% of the UK’s renewable output in 2011, demonstrating how much the rest of the UK needs our energy. We are seeing great progress towards our goal of generating the equivalent of 100% of Scotland’s electricity needs from renewables by 2020.

“Projects representing £750 million of investment were switched on in 2011, with an investment pipeline of £46 billion. And since the turn of the year, we have seen Gamesa invest in Leith creating over 800 new jobs, the Green Investment Bank being head-quartered in Edinburgh and Samsung Heavy Industries announcing it will base its £100 million European offshore wind project in Methil, creating up to 500 jobs.

“Alongside securing those major developments, we have taken real steps to ensure that communities all over Scotland will benefit from the renewable energy generated in their area.

“Scotland is a genuine world leader in green energy and our targets reflect the scale of our natural resources, the strength of our energy capabilities and the value we place on creating new, sustainable industries.”

Niall Stuart, chief executive of Scottish Renewables:

“This is a fantastic achievement for our industry and for Scotland.

“When the interim target of 31 per cent was set it was seen as ambitious but yet again the renewables sector in Scotland has grown further and faster than predicted, achieving 35 per cent, and that’s why we are confident we can meet the 2020 target.

“These figures are further proof that this industry is a major part of our energy sector. As well as supporting 11,000 jobs in Scotland and helping attract massive investment, renewable energy is now delivering more than a third of the electricity consumed by Scottish households and businesses.

“Renewables is now a major part of our energy mix and a major part of our economy, and the sector is making a key contribution to the fight on climate change. Last year the sector displaced over 5 million tonnes of CO2 – around 10 per cent of Scotland’s total carbon emissions.

“There are many challenges ahead if we are to keep growing. Government must continue to focus on delivering grid connections, getting the right balance in the planning system, and supporting investment in clean energy. By doing so we will make further progress in cutting emissions and securing more jobs for the future.

Stan Blackley, chief executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland: “Our research has shown that, with some modest investment in energy efficiency  and demand reduction, Scotland could produce 130% of its electricity demand from renewable sources by 2020 and 180% by 2030. In doing so we could ensure a reliable supply of clean electricity and phase out Scotland’s thermal power stations.”

In other news, Scottish Renewables released a report detailing the number of jobs that the Scottish Renewables industry is currently supporting.

In total there are around 11,000 people in Scotland employed in jobs supporting the renewables industry. The majority of these jobs are in the direct supply chain; 8701 to be exact. 1526 people are directly employed in renewable energy development and a further 909 people are employed in academia and the wider public sector. When broken down by sector onshore wind is the largest employer with 2235 employees; 943 are employed in offshore wind, and 1410 are employed in bioenergy. A further 3223 are employed in the National Grid and it’s supply chain.

Niall Stuart, chief executive of Scottish Renewables issued the following statement to accompany the report:

“The report shows that renewables are not only a major part of our energy mix, they are now a major part of our economy and our daily working lives, supporting more than 11,000 jobs across Scotland.

“The report also highlights that for every job in renewable energy development, there are around six more in the direct supply chain.

“These numbers are actually just the tip of the iceberg, with many thousands more employees supported indirectly by the growth of the renewables sector which have not been captured by this study.

“Renewable energy development is bringing in much needed investment to the wider economy, which is providing opportunities for businesses and people from a wide range of sectors; whether it be electricians, tradesmen and skippers of work boats, or lawyers, consultants, civil engineers and architects.

“These jobs are spread throughout the country, in both urban and rural areas: Glasgow, Fife and Edinburgh are already established as important centres for offshore wind development; Aberdeen is a major centre for offshore engineering; the Highlands and Islands are leading the development of the emerging wave and tidal sector; and bioenergy is providing jobs across rural Scotland from Lochaber to Morayshire to Dumfries and Galloway.

“A clear pattern emerges from speaking to employers that these numbers are expected to grow over the year ahead and beyond, as the relatively new industry continues to expand. Gamesa’s decision last week to come to Leith reinforces the scale of this opportunity.

“As a growth sector, it also offers new opportunities for the existing workforce and business base in parts of the economy which have been hit by the downturn.

“With continued political support, the right market framework, the right balance in the planning system, and investment in grid and ports and harbour infrastucture, we will ensure the creation of many thousands more jobs in this exciting sector.”

The announcements made this week demonstrate the great strides being made by the Scottish Renewables industry in terms of attracting investment, creating jobs and generating ever greater amounts of electricity.

Scottish Government publishes Electricity Generation Policy Statement

This week the Scottish Government launched the latest draft of its Electricity Generation Policy Statement which aims to outline how the ambitious 100% renewable energy target for 2020 will be achieved. The document contains a large amount of information including a projected breakdown of Scotland’s future energy mix, outlined aims for the countries energy network in 2020, carbon reduction targets, energy efficiency measures, planned grid connections with other countries, and the expected economic benefits in terms of investment levels and job creation. The complete document can be found here. Scottish Energy Minister, Fergus Ewing stated:

“This report shows that the Scottish Government’s target to generate the equivalent of 100 per cent of our electricity needs from renewables, as well as more from other sources, is achievable.

“We know there is doubt and scepticism about our 100 per cent renewables target, and the financial and engineering challenges required to meet it.

“But we will meet these challenges. I want to debate, engage and co-operate with every knowledgeable, interested and concerned party to ensure we achieve our goals.

“We know our target is technically achievable. Scotland already leads the world in renewable energy, and we have the natural resources and the expertise to achieve so much more.

“The prize at stake for the people of Scotland is huge, in terms of jobs, economic opportunities and lower electricity bills for all.”

The Electricity Generation Policy Statement initially outlines what the government hopes to achieve, long term, with the countries energy network.

It states that Scotland’s generation mix should deliver; a secure electricity supply, at an affordable cost to consumers, which can achieve large scale de-carbonisation by 2030, and brings the greatest possible economic benefit to Scotland.

A number of individual targets have been set with these aims in mind. For example, total Scottish energy consumption should be lowered by 12% by 2020. Energy efficiency is internationally regarded as one of the most affordable ways in which energy demand and carbon emissions can be reduced and controlled. Steps are already being taken to meet this target; there was a 7.4% drop in year on year energy demand from 2008 to 2009.

No new nuclear power plants are to be constructed in Scotland although extending the lifespan of the countries two existing nuclear plants for  a further 5 years is being considered. Such a move would serve to ease the transition to a grid more heavily reliant upon renewables.

Carbon Capture and Storage technology is expected to play an important role. Allowing baseload power to be maintained whilst still reducing carbon emissions. A minimum of 2.5 GW of thermal generation fitted with CCS technology is expected to be operational by 2020. CCS technology, if successfully demonstrated at commercial scale, could create up to 5,000 jobs and be worth £3.5 billion to the Scottish economy.

14-16 Gigawatts of renewable capacity will be required to achieve the 100% renewable target by 2020. Currently there are 12 Gigawatts of renewable capacity in various stages of planning, development and deployment. This figure includes 3 Gigawatts of mainly onshore wind projects currently consented or in construction. Whilst it should be remembered that not all of the 12 Gigawatts worth of projects will make it to construction it demonstrates the interest the Scottish renewables sector is already attracting from investors.

To achieve the 2020 target installed renewable generation capacity will have to almost double over the next ten years.Wind (both onshore and offshore) will play a major part in this expansion. 13 Gigawatts of wind energy is expected to be installed by 2020. This will mean that wind power will be providing around 55% of Scotland’s electricity output by this time. The Policy Statement identifies this target as a “major challenge” but argues that it is “consistent” with the projections made in a variety of different reports. Given Scotland’s huge potential for wind energy, strong backing from both the UK and Scottish Goverment’s, and the falling costs of both onshore and offshore wind it seems an achievable, if ambitious, target.

The Scottish Government has outlined a number of economic benefits that a strong and committed drive for increased renewable generation can bring. Firstly, it will serve to insulate consumers from the rising international prices of fossil fuels. The Policy Statement states that from 2013 increased renewable energy capacity will begin to halt the ever increasing cost to consumers from their energy bills.

Secondly, over the next ten years the renewable energy industry alone could be providing up to 40,000 jobs and £30 billion worth of investments into the Scottish economy. This is not including the economic benefits of CCS and increased usage of energy storage technologies. Additionally, the Scottish Government has targeted that 500MW should be owned by local communities by 2020. This level of communal ownership would see up £2.4 billion in Feed in-Tariff revenues over the next 20 years being held by local communities.

Thirdly, the necessary investment in and upgrading of Scotland’s electricity grid would pump £7 billion into the country’s economy and create 1,500 new jobs. The benefits of such investment are already being seen with both ScottishPower and Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) announcing the creation of new training and apprenticeship schemes.

Reactions to the publication of the Electricity Generation Policy Statement have been largely positive.

Ian Marchant, Chief Executive of SSE commented:

“SSE welcomes the Scottish Government’s electricity generation policy statement. With energy supply now a global issue, it is vital that the policy objectives adopted at Scottish, UK and EU level are consistent. With its focus on energy security, affordability and de-carbonisation, this policy statement underlines the extent to which policy objectives are consistent, and it is very encouraging that this should be the case.”

Keith Anderson, ScottishPower’s Chief Corporate Officer and CEO of ScottishPower Renewables remarked:

“ScottishPower supports the commitment to increase low carbon electricity generation in Scotland and we welcome the clarity outlined in the Scottish Government’s policy statement. We are making significant investments in large scale renewable energy projects including new wind, wave and tidal power. This investment is critical in order to help Scotland achieve its renewable energy targets and will be a catalyst for economic growth and job creation.”

Alison Kay, Commercial Director for National Grid observed:

“Scotland already has the highest proportion of clean power generation across Great Britain, which plays a vital role in keeping the lights on and meeting demand. The future energy mix is uncertain and this statement sets out a clear vision for the future of energy in Scotland. It will further enable National Grid and other industry participants to effectively plan the networks of the future.”

The 2020 target is described in the Policy Statement as “both a statement of intent and a rallying call”. It has been demonstrated to be both feasible and achievable, with wind energy playing a massive part. It is hoped that the outlining of a long term plan to help achieve the 100% aim will provide investors with confidence.

 

Government Launches Green Deal

The Government’s new Green Deal has been launched this week.

The scheme aims to reduce fuel poverty by making energy efficiency measures such as insulation more affordable to householders. This will be achieved by allowing people to take out loans of up to £10,000 to make their homes more energy efficient. The loans will be paid back over a 25 year period through ‘small additions’ to household energy bills. These loan repayments are intended to be lower than the amount of money that has been saved on energy; this has been referred to as the Green Deal‘s ‘golden rule’. The Green Deal is intended to be taken up by up to 14 million homes. The government estimates that the Green Deal could lead to the creation of 65,000 jobs.The Green Deal may also offer households that take up the scheme £150 cash-back. Estimates place savings on energy bills at around £94 annually by 2020. It was also announced that Energy companies must contribute £1.4 billion to the scheme annually until 2020.

At the launch of the Green Deal Chris Huhne stated:

“The Green Deal is about putting energy consumers back in control of their bills and banishing Britain’s draughty homes to the history books. By stimulating billions of pounds of private sector investment, the Green Deal will revolutionise the way that we keep our homes warm, making them cosier, more efficient – and all at no upfront cost.

“The Green Deal is also a massive business opportunity for firms up and down Britain, helping to power the economy and creating jobs. From one-man bands and local authorities, to the big supermarket and DIY stores, we want as many providers getting involved as possible because that’s what will give consumers the best deal.

“I want to insulate Britain’s homes not just from the cold weather, but also from the chill winds of global fossil fuel prices. It’s these that are pushing up consumer energy prices, and it’s why our balanced package of policies aimed at achieving energy savings and shifting to more home grown alternatives is the right one for the economy and all of us who pay energy bills.

“There are certainly costs to replacing our ageing energy infrastructure with modern clean power stations, and we take very seriously any impact of our policies on what consumers and businesses pay. we’ve repeatedly taken steps to reduce this – by removing some planned levies on bills and making others more cost effective and within budget.

“But a crucial – and too often ignored -priority of our whole strategy is to reduce the amount of energy we use in our homes.”

Initial reactions to the launch of the Green Deal have been somewhat mixed.

Brian Berry, director of external affairs at the Federation of Master Builders released the following statement:

“With rising energy prices the market for retrofit work is certainly there and is worth at least £3.5 billion every year, but consumers will need to be convinced that the Green Deal makes financial sense to them. It’s pleasing therefore to see the proposed cash back incentive in the consultation, but a reduced rate of VAT for Green Deal approved measures is needed in addition to boost demand and create much needed jobs in the building industry.”

Richard Lloyd, executive director at the consumer group Which?:

“It’s difficult to see how hard-pressed homeowners will have confidence in how the ‘green deal’ might work for them if the suggested savings are initially based on averages rather than on their personal energy use.

“The ‘golden rule’ was supposed to reassure people that green deal repayments would not exceed the savings made on energy bills. But if this is based on average figures then it could be meaningless for many.

“The government estimates that average household energy bills will be 7% lower than they would have been by 2020 because of new energy and climate policies. But this is based on the big assumption that schemes like the Green Deal will appeal to consumers. If take-up is lower than expected, energy bills will be pushed up even further.

Steps have already been taken to reassure those that have raised concerns about the Green Deal.

The treasury announced shortly after the scheme was launched that £200 million had been set aside to fund incentives to those who take up the scheme in it’s early stage. Although it has yet to be determined quite what form these incentives will take, further cash-back offers, discounts on council tax and cuts to stamp duty have all been suggested.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said:

“I can announce today that as part of the Autumn Statement we will provide £200m of funding for new and additional support to enable a special time-limited ‘introductory offer’ for the Green Deal.

“An offer that could save early adopters hundreds of pounds.

“A fund to get the Green Deal off to a flying start.

“One that will work with the Green Deal mechanism and the ECO to motivate thousands of more consumers to take up energy efficiency measures, over the next two years.”

The almost immediate announcement of this incentive fund indicates the strength of will within the government to make the Green Deal a success.

Chris Huhne comes out fighting for Renewable Energy

Chris Huhne’s speech to the RenewableUK Conference

“Our location is rather appropriate. Manchester was the thumping heart of the industrial revolution. This was the world’s first industrial city. It is home to the first industrial canal, and the world’s oldest railway station.

The foundations for our prosperity were laid here. The engines which drove Britain’s extraordinary economic growth were built here – from the spinning mule to the steam engine.

We could not have picked a better place to discuss their modern equivalents.

Revolution

Renewable energy technologies will deliver a third industrial revolution. Its impact will be every bit as profound as the first two. My argument today is a simple one: the revolution has already begun.

From the Western Isles to the Isle of Wight – across the length and breadth of Britain. New companies are creating new jobs, delivering the technologies that will power our future.

As we look to pull ourselves out of recovery and back to prosperity, renewable energy can light the way.

Today, I want to look at the contribution renewable energy is making to our economy right now. The investment it is sparking, the jobs it is delivering, the growth it is creating.

And I will look at what we can to do encourage that growth – and sustain those jobs.

But first, I want to take aim at the faultfinders and curmudgeons who hold forth on the impossibility of renewables – the unholy alliance of climate sceptics and armchair engineers who are selling Britain’s ingenuity short.

Renewables are too expensive”, they cry. “They cannot deliver energy at scale.

“They are uneconomic, unreliable and unwanted.”

It is time to retire these myths.

Money

Let us start with the most egregious: that renewables are too expensive; that they could not exist without public subsidy; that they are held up by government cash alone.

Last year, global investment in renewable energy rose by 32% to $211 billion. And $142 billion of that was new financial investment, which excludes government and corporate R&D.

Renewables are grabbing a large and growing share of new energy investment.

Yes, some of that investment is attracted by public subsidy. But globally, subsidies for fossil fuels outstrip subsidies for renewables by a factor of five.

We subsidise renewables to bring on deployment and reduce costs. And we’ve seen some remarkable successes.

Right now, support for renewable energy costs the average household less than sixpence a day. But decades of underinvestment in energy efficiency and reliance on fossil fuels costs us much, much more.

About half of the average household bill goes on wholesale gas and electricity costs. These costs are highly volatile, and as Ofgem make clear, the higher gas price is the real reason bills have been going up over the past eight years.

That is why we need a flexible energy portfolio.

And that’s where the counter-argument of the climate sceptics falls down. “Forget wind farms”, they say. “Shale gas will be our saviour. We should abandon everything else.”

I don’t believe government should pick winners. And if you do, I refer you to a Department of Trade and Industry white paper from 2004 that estimated oil would reach $23 per barrel by 2010. Even last year my own Department forecast oil at $80 per barrel. Brent crude is currently trading at $110 per barrel.

Lashing our economy to a single energy source is a risky business.

We don’t yet know the full extent of shale gas here; how economically or environmentally viable it will be to extract, or by when. At best, it is years away.

Unconventional gas has not yet lit a single room nor cooked a single roast dinner in the UK.

Yet those who clamour loudest for “realistic” energy policies would have us hitch our wagon to shale alone. Shale gas may be significant. It is exciting. But we do not yet know enough to bet the farm on it. Faced with such uncertainty we do what any rational investor does with their own pension fund – we spread our risks, we have a portfolio.

Capacity

The second fallacy is that renewables cannot deliver energy reliably or at scale.

But today, more than 10 gigawatts of our electricity capacity is renewable. That’s enough to power six million homes.

And with every passing year, renewable energy takes over another percentage point of global electricity capacity.

In 2007, 5% of the world’s electricity was renewable. In 2008, it was 6%. In 2009, 7%. And last year, 8%. And it’s still growing. More than a third of the new capacity added last year – some 60GW – was from non-hydro renewables. The message is clear: when we build new power plants, increasingly we choose renewables.

In fact, renewable energy can make our system more secure – not less. According to the International Energy Agency, renewables increase the diversity of electricity sources, making energy systems more flexible – and more resistant to shocks.

Yes, some renewable technologies are intermittent. But the Committee on Climate Change estimates that even with 65% of our energy provided by renewables in 2030, intermittency may cost just 1p per kilowatt hour.

And providing back-up for intermittent renewables is just not that expensive. We already swing from a low of demand of 40GW to a high of 80GW every day. Peaking plant has long been part of our mix. Without such backup the nation’s kettles would be cold in the Coronation St ad breaks.

Every year, renewable energy is attracting more investment and delivering more capacity. It is also gathering more support. One hundred and nineteen countries have renewable energy targets or policies – up from an estimated 55 just six years ago.

Attractiveness

That brings me to the third great misconception about renewable energy: that it is unwanted.

Earlier this year, Ipsos MORI polled a thousand UK adults on which energy source they preferred. By a clear margin, people favoured renewables.

Eighty-eight per cent of those polled viewed solar power favourably; 82% for wind, 76% for hydroelectric, 57% for biomass.

The highest placed traditional energy source for electricity was gas, at 56%.

Seventy-three per cent of people would support a new wind farm in their area, as opposed to just 21% for a new coal plant.

When you get behind the headlines, you find that support for renewable energy is strong – and growing.

And so is its contribution to our economy.

Economy

Across the United Kingdom, renewables are providing jobs, investment and growth.

And the numbers are really starting to add up.

Over the last financial year, nearly 4,500 new jobs were created in the low-carbon sector, which grew by 4.3%.

Fifty-one thousand and six hundred companies in Britain provide low-carbon and environmental goods and services. Exports are now £11.3 billion, up 3.9%.

By Christmas we will have 3GW of biomass installed, and by Easter 5GW of onshore wind. In the past seven months alone, plans for £1.69 billion of investment and 9,500 jobs have been announced.

Here in the North West, more than 950 jobs: 340 at the Siemens Renewable Energy Engineering Centre, just a few miles down the road; up to 600 over the next decade at Cammell Laird; three new Farmgen developments planned in Cumbria, with hundreds of jobs.

This is the sharp reality of green growth. At a time when closures and cuts dominate the news cycle, next-generation industries are providing jobs just as in the recovery after the last deep depression in 1929 to 1931. It is new and innovative industries that grow fastest.

Renewable energy is surging out across the United Kingdom, blazing a trail of start-ups and jobs.

Across the Pennines, in Yorkshire, 2,250 jobs – £130 million in Real Ventures’ biomass plant, employing up to 285 people.

And in the North East, more than 1,400 jobs – TAG Energy Solutions, delivering up to 400 jobs in the Billingham turbine factory.

North of the border, one of the jewels in our renewable energy crown – £160 million of new investment and more than 420 Scottish jobs.

Across the Irish Sea, 450 jobs in Belfast Harbour thanks to DONG Energy’s Duddon Sands offshore wind farm; 1,400 jobs in Wales.

In the heart of England, 100 jobs in the East Midlands – and 50 in the West; 120 in East Anglia.

Two thousand and two hundred jobs in the South East, supported by £172m – from Vestas, the Green Home Company, and more. And at Tilbury, the first UK coal plant to convert completely to biomass, safeguarding livelihoods.

Across Britain, from the industrial heartlands to the northernmost extremities, new energy technologies are delivering jobs and growth just when we need them most.

Capitalising on our geographical, physical and human advantages; Scotland’s research and natural resources. The Solent’s marine expertise. Manufacturing in the North East. Technology development in the M4 corridor.

Renewable energy doesn’t just have the potential to bring Britain’s economy back to life – it has already started.

Our job now is to allow it to really flourish. How? By setting clear and coherent objectives. And using regulation and closely targeted support to hit them.

Targets

By the end of this decade, we must cut our carbon emissions by 34% on 1990 levels. By the end of the next decade, they must be halved.

To hit our EU renewable energy target, we must generate 30% of our electricity from renewables by 2020. That means a fourfold increase in deployment – turning our back on an inheritance that ranked us as the dunce in class, 25th out of 27 EU countries for renewables.

Growth on that kind of scale will not be easy. It will require tough decisions, clear thinking, and tightly focused support.

And everyone has a part to play.

Industry must carry on making the case for renewables. Engaging with communities – and answering its critics by delivering renewable schemes that save money and save carbon.

Government must break through the barriers that are stopping new schemes being built, overcoming the financial, planning and delivery hurdles that can hold up progress on renewables.

And together we must do a better job of communicating. That means engaging with the communities who stand to benefit, and the investors who don’t yet see the promise that renewable energy holds.

We must ensure the silent majority aren’t drowned out by the vocal minority – those opposed to renewable energy in all its forms.

That means making sure communities that host renewables benefit more directly. That’s what our proposals on business rate retention are for. And that’s why we were pleased to endorse Renewable UK’s Protocol on Community Benefits.

My challenge to you today is this: keep it up. Continue to develop and publicise new ways of rewarding those communities most affected by development.

Opportunities

Because, as the report you are publishing today shows, the opportunities are simply too great to ignore.

Globally, around half a trillion dollars has been earmarked for green stimulus spending. We will need to spend a hundred times that by 2050 to hit our climate targets.

We must be realistic. The pressure on the public finances means we cannot support everything at the level we otherwise would.

So we must ensure we send clear market signals: deploying public finance intelligently, and breaking through barriers to growth.

Our starting point is simple. We have a responsibility to the taxpayer to get the most carbon and cost-effective electricity generation online…

In total, our low-carbon and energy-saving policies will reduce household enegy bills compared with a ‘do nothing policy’.

Markets

Our approach to renewable energy must encourage investment and deliver value for money for consumers.

We are doing three things to help.

First, we are using policy to create new markets that will stimulate new investment – like the Green Deal, our unprecedented energy efficiency programme. It will bring jobs, growth and opportunities right across the country.

Or the world’s first Renewable Heat Incentive. It will create a whole new market in renewable heat. Not just big industrial and commercial installations, but also homes and businesses, too.

We expect green capital investment in heat to rise by £7.5 billion by 2020, supporting 150,000 manufacturing, supply chain and installer jobs.

So the first thing we’re doing is to create new markets; the second is to make existing markets work better.

This is why we published in the summer our plans for the reform of the electricity market, which will deliver secure, low-carbon and affordable electricity.

We’ve listened to the renewables industry in drawing up the reforms. That’s why we support a contract for difference model tailored to renewables and not auctioning in the near future…

By offering certainty and clarity, we can secure the scale of investment we need. And by attracting in new investors, we will also increase competition in the UK energy market.

Benefits

Our third priority is to capture the benefits of the low-carbon revolution. That means ensuring more clean technologies are designed and manufactured here.

We have a blossoming low-carbon goods and services sector, which seems to be thriving even in tough times.

But China leads the world in solar photovoltaic panel production; Germany on energy efficient housing design.

We’re missing a trick unless we start supporting low-carbon manufacturing here in Britain – and grow the green supply chain: locking in profits and expertise, and creating the exports that will keep Britain competitive.

Yes, climate change is a manmade disaster. Yes, the UK is only 2% of global carbon emissions. But if we grasp the opportunity now our businesses and economy can be much more than 2% of the solution.

We are not going to save our economy by turning our back on renewable energy.

This has been at the heart of Liberal Democrat policy for decades and it is something the Deputy Prime Minister, the Business Secretary, and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury instinctively understand.

But this goes beyond any one party. I know the Prime Minister agrees, which is why he is putting so much effort in to securing offshore wind manufacturing in the UK. And it is something I know my predecessor Ed Miliband understands.

It is this three-party consensus that makes the UK such a good place to invest.

It wasn’t always like that. It is nothing short of a national disgrace that in the 1980s the UK lost our leading wind research position to Denmark, because government refused to support the industry.

It is a mistake I am determined that this Coalition Government will not make again.

So I can today assure you that this Government has resolved that we will be the largest market in Europe for offshore wind.

We already have more installed offshore wind than anywhere else in the world and we are determined to remain at the forefront.

That’s why we set aside £200 million for the development of low-carbon technologies, including £60m for supporting major new manufacturing projects on the English coast.

We will be the best place to invest in marine power, and we will be the fastest growing country in the EU when it comes to renewable deployment.

That’s why the Green Investment Bank has been capitalised with three billion pounds, to help unlock private sector investment at scale. For the first time ever, Britain will join every other leading developed economy in having a public development bank focused on key economic goals…

Non-financial

So from the structure of the electricity market to research funding, we’re breaking through the economic barriers. But we’re also focusing on non-financial obstacles.

We’re reforming the planning system, to ensure it’s no longer a brake on sustainable development.

The energy National Policy Statements set out the national need for new renewable energy infrastructure. We have introduced a fast-track process for consents. And we will close the Infrastructure Planning Commission and return decisions on major energy infrastructure to democratically elected ministers.

Over 1,000 pages of local planning policy for England are being replaced by clearer and more streamlined National Planning Policy Framework. And the Government will consult on measures for a ‘planning guarantee’.

We’re also working to improve grid connections. The connect and manage regime is now up and running. Network companies are now looking much further ahead in their planning and engaging more effectively with stakeholders. Together, this will help the network acts as a facilitator rather than an obstacle to renewable generation.

And a few months ago, we published the Renewables Roadmap – setting out for the first time how we will overcome barriers to deployment.

It’s a comprehensive action plan to accelerate the UK’s deployment and use of renewable energy.

Conclusion

In many ways, Britain can lay claim to be the home of renewable energy.

It is thought that the oldest tidal mill in the world once stood across the river Fleet, in London. The white cliffs of Dover looked over a tide mill that was recorded in the Domesday Book.

And 130 years ago, we connected the world’s first public electricity supply, in Godalming, Surrey.

It did not burn coal, or gas.

No, the power plant in question was a Siemens generator driven by 100% clean, renewable power: a watermill on the River Wey.

When Britain began its journey towards electrification, renewable energy was the future.

But we ended up choosing another path. This time, things will be different.

We will not heed the naysayers or the green economy deniers.

With over £200 billion worth of energy infrastructure needed by the end of the decade, this is our golden chance to deliver a greener future.”

Sustainability, Waste and Whisky

Scotch whisky is not only Scotland’s biggest export it is now being used to power some of the country’s homes. Diageo, the global alcohol conglomerate, has announced plans to consturct a biomass power plant at it’s distillery complex in Glenlossie. This follows investments in similar schemes at other Diageo sites in Fife and Roseisle.

This new plant will be fueled by a combination of wood-chip pellets and graff. Graff is spent grain; a waste product from the distilling process. The use of graff to produce more whisky will reduce money spent on power for the distiller as well as making operations at the Glenlossie site sustainable. It is expected that the plant will use 30,000 tons of graff per annum which will be left over from the production of approximately 3.2 million gallons of whisky. Diageo has stated that this will result in a reduction in carbon emissions of 6,000 tons a year which is equivalent to removing 1,600 family cars from the road.

Brian Higgs, Diageo director of malt distilling released the following statement: “With Roseisle distillery we showed what can be achieved in using the natural by-products of our industry to produce green energy.

“Diageo is committed to reducing its reliance on fossil fuels and to reducing its reliance on fossil fuels and to reducing our overall impact on the environment. The plan for Glenlossie is another significant step in our journey towards that sustainable future for Scotch whisky production.”

Neill Stuart, the Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables stated that Scotland’s “world famous whisky industry is now increasingly looking to renewable fuel sources to power its operations with Diageo very much leading the way.

“Renewable heat and small-scale renewables have the potential to help all sorts of businesses generate new revenue or reduce costs while cutting carbon emissions.”

Additionally the Combination of Rothes Distillers announced earlier in the year that they will be working in partnership with Helius Energy (a British Biomass company) to build a biofuel power plant in Speyside (one of Scotland’s traditional whisky heartlands ) which will be the first such facility in the country to provide power to both industry and to the public. The planned facility is intended to power 9,000 homes in the local area by burning a combination of draff and wood pellets.

This news has not met with an entirely positive reaction. WWF (Worldwide Wildlife Fund) Scotland have questioned how the wood pellets will be sourced, arguing that unless the pellets were obtained from a local and sustainable source then any carbon reductions achieved from reduced usage of fossil fuels would be cancelled out by emissions produced by importing them. Sam Gardner, the organisations climate policy officer said: “It is using waste products from our whisky industry which is an eminently sensible thing to do, and is producing heat both for whisky production and for the local community. We would want to see assurance, however, that the biomass was sustainably sourced.”

The shift to renewable power comes at a time when the whisky industry is seeing strong growth in exports. For the first half of the year exports reached a value of £1.8 billion, an increase of 22% on the first half of 2010. The US is the industry’s top export market by value, shipments to this market were up 14% to £276.6 million. France was the biggest market by volume, importing 94.8 million 70cl bottles which was an increase of 18%.

However the biggest rises were seen in emerging markets such as Central and Southern America (which saw an increase of 49% to £214.4 million), Taiwan (increased by 45% to £70.3 million) and Singapore (increased by 64% to £148.5 million). The chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, Gavin Hewitt attributed these large increases to “a growing mixture of affluence and aspiration” amongst an emerging middle class as well as “recent breakthroughs in trade relations”.

It is right then that Scotland’s biggest exporting industry should be involved in the country’s renewable revolution.Such a key part of the Scottish economy should and is insulating itself against the increasingly volatile fossil fuel markets.

 

Energy efficiency improvements can reduce your household bills

Do you have concerns about your energy efficiency?

People are becoming increasingly concerned with rising energy costs. As the cost of fossil fuel imports continues to rise and continues to be passed on to the consumer more people are looking to find ways in which they can increase their energy efficiency and reduce the strain on their wallets. According to research the UK wastes £6 million worth of energy a year.  For every £3 the average household spends on energy £1 is wasted. There is a wealth of hints, tips and guides online that exist to help the consumer to achieve energy efficiency and reduce their bills.

Simple ways to improve your energy efficiency.

Firstly, one of the biggest savings one can make is to simply switch energy supplier: on average people save £150 a year at a stroke simply by switching supplier and obtaining an improved deal.

Secondly there are a number of simple things that can be done to further reduce your heating bill. Turning your thermostat down by a single degree can knock 10% off of your annual heating bill. Draw your curtains at dusk to prevent heat escaping through your windows. If you go on a winter holiday, put your thermostat down to a low setting; this will mean that your home is protected from freezing at a minimum cost.  Walls and roofs in homes absorb nearly 50% of heat; look into fitting your home with loft and cavity wall insulation for significant long term savings. Additionally, putting an insulating jacket over your hot water tank can save you up to £15 a year, a small saving but they all add up. Did you know that a dripping hot tap can, over the course of a single, day fill a bath? This sort of waste is both pushing up home energy bills and very easily solved. Ensure that all taps are not leaking.

Thirdly, your electricity bill can be simply, quickly and effectively reduced by adhering to some of this simple advice. Always turn the lights off when you leave a room. Replace your bulbs with energy efficient ones. This can reduce your bill by around £25 a year. These can last up to ten times as long as ordinary bulbs and over the course of their lifetime can save you up to £45. It is also worthwhile to make sure that your appliances are turned off rather than on standby when they are not in use and to not have any laptops and mobile phones on charge unnecessarily. This will save you around £40 a year. Lastly, your kettle, only boiling the amount of water you need at the time will not only save you around £30 a year but also mean that your cup of tea is ready that bit quicker!

Fourthly, there are also savings to be made in the use of your white goods. Avoid putting hot food in your fridge and freezer as they have to work harder, using more energy, to cool them. Defrost your freezer regularly to improve energy efficiency. Washing clothes at 30 degrees can also result in large savings. Crucially, you can squeeze savings from your washing machine, tumble dryer, and dishwasher by waiting until they have a full load before using them. One full load uses less energy than two half load.

Of course, there are many more ways to improve your energy efficiency and reduce your electricity and heating bills. If you have any top tips that you wish to share then please feel free to leave a comment.