Category: Onshore

Google continues move to 100% renewables

Google continues move to 100% renewables

This week it was announced by Google that they had taken another step towards their aim of deriving all of their power from renewable sources. The tech giant has just announced the purchase of four onshore wind farms in Sweden. Power from these wind farms is to be used by the company’s data centres located within the country.

Each of the four wind farms is located in a different Sedish municipality. This lowers any risk to Google- ensuring that for instance if one wind farm were to go offline (for example due to dangerously high wind speeds) the wind farms in other areas would remain unaffected.

Google’s data centres have significant power requirements. Just one of the four wind farms purchased by the company is composed of 29 turbines and has a total installed capacity of 59 megawatts.

The Swedish purchase follows the $75 million investment Google made into an onshore wind farm located in Carson County, Texas at the close of last year. The 182 MW wind farm is expected to be fully constructed and operational by the end of the year.

Google’s director of global infrastructure Francois Sterin made the following comment after the completion of the purchase:

“We’re always looking for ways to increase the amount of renewable energy we use. Long term power purchase agreements enable wind farm developers to add new generation capacity to the grid – which is good for the environment – but they also make great financial sense for companies like Google.”

Google is of course not the only company aiming to derive 100% of it’s power from renewable sources. IKEA aims to achieve this by the end of 2020. In August last year the company purchase a wind farm in Northern Ireland to provide power stores in Belfast and Dublin. The company also already owns onshore wind farms in the  mainland UK, France, Germany, Poland, Sweden and Denmark and it is also common for solar PV arrays to be installed onto the roof’s of their stores. In contrast to Google IKEA aims to own all of the renewable generation developments necessary to hit the 100% target rather than simply agree to purchase power from specific sites.  Sky also has as a 100% renewable energy target: emblemised by the wind turbine installed at their headquarters.

Of course it should be remembered that on site power generation is not just the domain of large multinational companies such as Google and IKEA. Nor is it something which can only be achieved using large scale renewable energy developments such as those discussed above.  There are many examples of smaller companies providing their own on site power using smaller scale renewable energy developments such as small and medium scale wind turbines. We at Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy) have been involved in several such developments and feel it is definitely an avenue worth exploring for many companies.

In other news this week saw the launch of the UK Government’s ‘Community Energy Strategy’. The strategy is designed to increase community engagement in energy schemes and help people to reduce their power costs. The strategy was designed following a survey carried out by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to determine public interest in community schemes.

The survey revealed that over 50% of those questioned as part of the survey stated that saving money on energy bills would be the ‘major motivation’  for them to get involved in community energy projects. Additionally 40% of respondants revealed that they were already interested in joining a community energy group, participating in collective energy provider switching schemes and participating in collective energy purchasing schemes.

The ‘Community Energy Strategy’ was produced as a response to such opinions. The following plans have already been revealed to fall under the umbrella of the strategy. Firstly, the launch of the £10 million Urban Community Energy Fund designed to kick start community energy projects in England. Secondly, the £1 million Big Energy Saving Fund designed to help support the work of volunteers helping vulnerable members of society to reduce their energy costs. Thirdly, the launch of the community energy saving competition which offers £100,000 to communities to develop innovative approaches to saving energy and money. And lastly, the creation of a ‘one-stop shop’ information resource to help people interested in developing community energy projects.

Speaking at the launch of the strategy Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey stated:

“We’re at the turning point in developing true community energy.

“The cost of energy is now a major consideration for household budgets, and I want to encourage groups of people across the country to participate in a community energy movement and take real control of their energy bills.

“Community led action, such as collective switching, gives people the power to bring down bills and encourage competition within the energy market.”

Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker also commented:

“The Community Energy Strategy marks a change in the way we approach powering our homes and businesses – bringing communities together and helping them save money – and make money too.

“The Coalition is determined to unleash this potential, assist communities to achieve their ambitions and drive forward the decentralised energy revolution. We want to help more consumers of energy to become producers of energy and in doing so help to break the grip of the dominant big energy companies.”

Maf Smith, Deputy Chief Executive of industry trade body RenewableUK also commented on the strategy launch:

“RenewableUK is committed to helping communities engage in renewable energy, and sponsored a report from Respublica on this last year. We look forward to working with Government, communities and our members on addressing some of the barriers that currently exist to the development of further community ownership.

“With wind power already enjoying massive levels of popularity with communities around the country, the industry is eager to do what it can help find ways of maximising local participation in the future energy supply”.

It should be stated that the onshore wind industry is leading the way in community engagement with renewable energy developments. Last year the industry created a new protocol for onshore wind developers  increasing the level of community benefit taken from wind turbine revenue. Indeed we at Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy) have included a community contribution as a part of all of our developments whether required to or not.

A Good 2013

A Good 2013

2013 was a good year for Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy).

A good year for us and a good year for others. For the landowners and farmers across Scotland that we are gaining planning approval for, allowing them access to alternative revenue streams with the potential to secure their businesses. For the community groups and charities which we are supporting across Scotland, helping them to continue the much needed good work which they do. A good year for Scotland’s energy ambitions. The country took a step closer to the ambitious renewable energy targets which are to be met by the end of the decade. We at ILI (RE) were delighted to play our part in helping the nation to achieving these ambitions and look forward to contributing further.

At present ILI (RE) has gained over seventy seperate planning permissions for small and medium scale wind turbine developments in Local Authority Areas across the country. Many more planning applications are currently live and being considered by planning departments. The numerous small scale developments in which we are engaged allow far more people to benefit from renewable energy than the larger scale wind farms that only large scale developers and landowners allow. The revenue created by even a small scale 225wK can mean all the difference for a farmer or landowner. Having spoke to many within Scotland’s farming industry and the farmers and landowners in which we enter into partnership we at ILI (RE) understand the pressures which Scottish farming is facing. For many the revenue from a turbine means being able to reinvest in their businesses; carrying out much needed maintenance work, purchasing new equipment, hiring more staff, keeping pace with ever rising costs, improving yields and efficiency, even simply keeping a traditional family business within a family.

Additionally given the scale and spread of our developments ILI (RE) has been able to offer people innovative solutions to grid issues which had previously ruled out the possibility of development. Whether it be the use of off-grid storage or demand, the creation of new grid links  or the linking together of geographically close developments we at ILI (RE) have been able to spread the benefits of renewable energy generation and government feed-in tariffs far wider than would have been possible from the development of large scale wind farms.

It should be remembered that all of ILI (RE)’s completed developments offer a community benefit to the area in which it is located. A portion of the revenue generated from all of our turbines will be allocated to either a Local Authority Area’s Community Benefit Fund or to a designated local charity. Not all Local Authority Areas in Scotland require a Community Benefit as part of a renewable energy development application. Despite this such a benefit is a part of all of our applications regardless of their location. In areas such as South Lanarkshire, where the council has established a Community Benefit Fund, we contribute to the pot; allowing Local Authorities to target funding where needed. In areas such as East Renfrewshire, which does not have a central fund, we have established a partnership with a local charity working within the community. In this case we have entered in partnership with East Renfrewshire Good Causes.

East Renfrewshire Good Causes (ERGC) was established in 2007. From that time the charity has helped over 1000 people within the East Renfrewshire area; working to improve their quality of life. Whether it be by providing educational support, procuring medical equipment or organising days out ERGC has provided vital support to many vulnerable people. It is point of pride that ILI (RE) has been able to support, not just the vital work done by ERGC, charities and community groups across Scotland. The community benefit funding from 70 planning approvals alone represents potentially almost £2 million worth of charity funding over the 20 year life span of our turbines. We would stress that this figure will increase as more of our potential developments gain planning approval.

Scotland and the UK moved a step closer to achieving their renewable energy generation targets in 2013. We at ILI (RE) were proud that our developments helped contribute to this progress. Just we will be proud to help move us closer still to these targets in 2014. More electricity being generated from renewable sources such as onshore wind means; importing less fossil fuels, less exposure to volatile markets, cheaper energy bills, reduced carbon emissions and the creation of more jobs. Renewable energy was one the UK’s fastest growing industries in 2013.

The potential of onshore wind is beginning to be seen. As has been discussed in this blog previously new UK wind generation records are being set with increasing regularity. But this month it was Denmark that fully demonstrated the potential of wind energy to the world. The month of December saw several new and startling wind generation records being set in Denmark. Firstly, 54.8% of electricity demand for the month of December was met by wind energy. Over half of the entire country’s electricity usage for the entire month! In December 2012 33.5% of electricity demand was met by wind energy. Secondly, on the 21st of December 102% of electricity demand was met by wind power. A surplus of energy even when every other single electricity source is discounted. Lastly, over the course of the entire year 33.2% of electricity demand was met by wind power.This in a year noted by network operator Energinet.dk as being not particularly windy. From all these new records then we can see the role which wind energy can play in meeting a nations electricity needs. A statement from an Energinet.dk spokesman noted that:

“The records do not only apply to Denmark. They are also world records. Because no other countries have as large a wind power capacity in proportion to the size of the electricity consumption, as we do in Denmark.”

It is our hope that the good news continues to come in, not just for ourselves but for all of our landowners.

 

National Grid to publish constraint payment information for all forms of energy generation

National Grid to publish constraint payment information for all forms of energy generation

Last week, industry trade body Scottish Renewables announced that it had been in contact with the National Grid to request more balance in it’s reporting of constraint payments to wind turbine developers.

Constraint payments are payments made to energy generators at times of low demand. When there is a surplus of power in the National Grid generators are paid at a pre-agreed rate to shut down until power demand increases. Constraint payments act as compensation for revenue lost from ceasing to generate and supply power.

Scottish Renewables request to the National Grid was made following the publication of an article in the Scottish Times. The article attempted to detail the level of constraint payments which have been made to wind energy generators at times of low demand. It transpired that the article had been based upon “highly contested” projections of future wind constraint payments rather than actual data. One industry insider was quoted as describing the article as “tosh”. Indeed, the National Grid itself, whose projections the article had been based upon, described the article as highly misleading.

In the last financial year £28 million was paid out to wind energy generators in constraint payments. Whilst this apparently large sum makes for good headlines it should be placed into context. £28 million was paid out to wind energy generators whilst £138 million in constraint payments was paid out to coal, gas and other generators – almost six times as much. No breakdown of these costs has ever been published making it impossible to accurately state how much in constraint payments has been paid out to any form of energy generation technology apart from wind.

Following their contact with Scottish Renewables the National Grid has now confirmed that they have agreed to publish breakdown cost of constraint payments  for other forms of energy generation. The first publication of this information is expected before the end of February. A spokesperson for the National Grid made the point that until now it had only ever been wind energy constraint payment information that anyone had requested. This rather revealing comment  suggests that articles on constraint payments in many mainstream media publications have been motivated by an anti-wind energy sentiment rather than an urge to seriously examine the issue of constraint payments and the true cost of the various forms of energy generation which supply the National Grid.

Following discussions with Scottish Renewables a National Grid spokeswoman made the following comment:

“We have discussed this issue with Scottish Renewables and we are more than happy to meet this request in full. It’s vital that we provide clear information about how we constrain energy generation to balance the power grid.”

Niall Stuart, Chief Executive for Scottish Renewables made the following statement:

“Wind was responsible for 14% of all constraint payments in the first half of this financial year, with coal, gas and hydro accounting for the vast majority of the other 86%.

“Total constraint payments were equal to £161.2m and the cost of constraining wind was £23.3m, meaning that coal, gas and other generators received £137.9m – six times the amount paid to wind.

“Despite this, National Grid only publishes detailed figures on payments to wind, with no breakdown given for the other sectors.

“In the interests of transparency and an open debate about the costs and benefits of all forms of electricity, it is time for the grid operator to publish details of payments to other individual sectors – not just to wind.

“Constraint payments are an essential part of managing the grid, but the public deserves to know where their money is being spent, and the fact that payments to wind are significantly less than those made to coal and gas generation.”

This week, Scottish Renewables also published a report produced by consultancy group O’Herlihy and Co. The report aimed to ascertain the amount of people employed in the Scottish renewable energy industry. 540 companies were surveyed making this the most comprehensive study of its type yet produced.

The report found that 11,695 people are currently in full time employment in Scotland’s renewable energy industry. This represents a 5% increase on last year’s findings and demonstrates both the growth and employment potential of the industry. Interestingly, 5% growth represents a higher level of job creation than the Scottish economy more generally. The study also broke down employment by region and industry sector. The majority of jobs in renewable energy (54%) are located in the Central Belt. The Highlands & Islands (17%) and the North East (14%) are also renewable energy employment hubs.

Onshore wind energy was found to be the industry’s biggest employer with 39% of jobs in this sector. Offshore wind was the second biggest employer with 21% of jobs in this sector. Wave/Tidal and Bioenergy were also significant employers, both providing 9% of the renewable energy industry’s jobs. All other sectors were classed as insignificant employers (at least in terms of number of jobs compared to other sectors).

The data for employment by area and employment by sector were then cross examined. This revealed that Onshore wind and Hydro energy are the biggest renewable employers in the Highlands & Islands. Onshore wind ‘dominates’ employment in Glasgow and is also the ‘most significant employer in the South of Scotland and Lothian. Finally the North East is the country’s hub for Offshore Wind with ‘key concentration’ of jobs in this sector located in this region; taking advantage of the regions long standing experience of marine engineering.

The report also surveyed the 540 renewable energy companies to gauge their expectations for the coming year. 294 organisations (54%) felt their level of employment would increase in 2014. 229 organisations (42%) felt their level of employment would remain the same and just 9 organisations (1.6%) felt their employment level would decrease in 2014. The remaining organisations either did not know or did not respond. From this survey it can taken that Scotland’s renewable energy industry is expecting to continue to grow over the course of 2014.

Joss Blamire, Scottish Renewables Senior Policy Manager made the following statement at the publication of the report:

“These latest figures show the renewables industry has seen steady growth in the number of people being employed despite an uncertain year.

“The breadth of job opportunities for project managers, ecologists and engineers has led to a wide range of people seeing renewable energy as a sector where they can use their skills and training.”

From the news this week we can see that the Scottish renewables industry is looking ahead to a bright 2014. Growth and job creation are expected to continue, generation levels are expected to continue their upward trend and it is hoped that the quality of reporting, particularly on the wind industry, will improve. We here at Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy) look forward in playing our part in moving Scotland closer to it’s renewable energy generation targets.

 

New UK Wind Energy Records Set

New UK Wind Energy Records Set

Last week it was announced by industry trade body RenewableUK that the month of December 2013 had seen several wind power records being broken. The announcement followed the publication of electricity generation statistics for December by the National Grid. Despite the high-winds experienced in the UK over the course of December it should be noted that the setting of new records does not simply represent a particularly blustery month but rather the continuation of an upwards trend.

The first record which was broken was the amount of wind power generated in a single month. December saw 2,481,080 MWh (Megawatt hours) of electricity being generated from wind power. This level of generation is enough to power 5.7 million British homes at a time of year which traditionally sees an increase in power usage and demand. The previous record was set in October 2013 when 1,956,437 MWh of electricity was generated from the wind. Crucially, however, this increase in generation led to an increase in the use of wind power by the UK. In December 2013 10% of the UK’s total power demand was sourced from wind power. In comparison, October 2013 saw 8% of the UK’s total energy demand being sourced from wind.

Records were also broken for the amount of electricity generated from wind power over the course of a single week and a single day. The week beginning Monday the 16th of December saw 783,886 MWh of electricity being produced from wind power. This level of power generation represented 13% of the weeks total electricity demand. The 21st of December was the day on which the single day generation record was broken. 132,812 MWh of electricty was generated from wind power representing a notable 17% of the days total electricity demand. The single day generation record had set as recently as the 29th of November. The regularity with which new records are being set reveals the progress that the UK’s wind industry is making in increasing capacity and reducing the country’s dependence upon fossil fuel imports. Indeed around 500 Megawatts of new wind capacity was installed and connected into the National Grid between June and November 2013.

Maf Smith, Deputy Chief Executive of RenewableUK made the following statement whilst announcing the new records:

“This is a towering achievement for the British wind energy industry. It provides cast-iron proof that the direction of travel away from dirty fossil fuels to clean renewable sources is unstoppable.

“In December, we generated more electricity from wind for British homes and businesses than during any other month on record – and we also hit weekly and daily highs.

“This gives us a great sense of confidence for the year ahead, when we will continue to increase the amount of clean power we generate from wind, onshore and offshore.

“As we do so, we are lessening our dependence on excruciatingly expensive imports of fossil fuels which have driven people’s fuel bills up. British wind energy is providing a better alternative – a stable, secure, cost-effective supply of home-grown power”.

Of course it should be remembered that the figures released by the National Grid do not represent the full amount of wind energy being generated in the UK. There are a large amount of wind turbines in the UK, particularly within the small to medium scale (the scale at which we at Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy) specialise in) which do not feed power into the National Grid. Such turbines will be supplying power locally or on-site. The owners of such developments are not required to supply real time output data to the National Grid and as such will not have been included in their figures.

It should be noted that UK wind power breaking such records as this is set to become a regular occurrence in the near future as more turbines are consented, constructed and begin to supply power into the National Grid. We at Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy) are looking forward to playing our part in this process as more of our developments are completed in the very near future.

In other news, figures released by Spain’s national grid operator have revealed that wind power has become the country’s dominant electricty source in 2013. Red Electrica de Espana (REE) published a report which revealed that for the very first time wind power contributed more to meeting electricty demand within the country than any other source. Over the course of 2013 wind met 21.1% of Spanish electricity demand. This was enough to produce more than Spain’s fleet of nuclear plants which met 21%. In total 53,926 GWh (Gigawatt hours) of electricity was produced from wind power in 2013. This represents an increase of 12% over 2012.

It should be noted that other forms of renewable energy also saw an increase in their output. Hydropower generation soared to 32,205 GWh; a 16% increase on the historic average helped by high levels of rainfall. Solar energy also contributed more due an increase in capacity. In 2013 173 MW of  new wind power capacity was introduced into the grid, 140 MW of solar PV and 300 MW of solar thermal capacity were also added to the system. These increases mean that renewable technologies now account for 49.1% of installed Spanish capacity.

The success of the Spanish embrace of renewable power can also be seen in the reduced output of more traditional forms of electricity generation. Output from traditional gas fired power plants dropped a dramatic 34.2%. Output from coal fired plants dropped 27.3% and even nuclear output dropped  by 8.3%. These reductions combined with a 2.1% drop in total power demand and increased use of renewable power has meant that the greenhouse gas emissions produced by the Spanish power sector are estimated to have dropped an incredible 23.1% last year to 61.4 million tonnes. These figures demonstrate that an electricity supply system based upon renewables not only works for end users but also serves to increase energy security and reduce carbon emissions.

We at Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy) are delighted to have played a part in setting new wind generation records. We also look forward to helping set new records with our already installed turbines and also those of our developments which will have completed construction in the near future.

RenewableUK unveils solution to issue of Other Amplitude Modulation

RenewableUK unveils solution to issue of Other Amplitude Modulation

This week industry trade body RenewableUK published new research on the subject of wind energy acoustics. The study was produced to explore the issue of Other Amplitude Modulation’ – this is a phenomenon which affects a small minority of wind turbine installations.

The research was carried out in partnership with  the University of Salford, the University of Southampton, the National Aerospace Laboratory of the Netherlands, Hoare Lea Acoustics, Robert Davies Associates and DTU Riso in Denmark. The aim of the research was to determine the causes behind Other Amplitude Modulation and to investigate solutions to the issue.

Firstly it should be noted that Other Amplitude Modulation is entirely different to Normal Amplitude Modulation. Normal Amplitude Modulation is the sound commonly heard from wind turbine installations – the ‘swishing’ sound generated as the turbine blades spin through the air. Other Amplitude Modulation is a  far more infrequent and uncommon sound which lasts for a few minutes.

The research reveals that Other Amplitude Modulation is caused by sudden and unexpected variations in both wind speed and direction. When this occurs the wind hits different parts of the turbine blade at different speeds causing momentary stalling of the turbine blades and a ‘whooshing noise’.

At this point it should be emphasised that the research has revealed that Other Amplitude Modulation is no louder than the more commonly occurring and accepted Normal Amplitude Modulation. Both cause noises at a level of around 35-40 decibels it is, however, the case that Other Amplitude Modulation occurs at a deeper pitch. The sound produced by these sudden variations of wind speed and direction has been likened to the noise produced by a single-carriage A-road at a distance of 1 kilometer.

Interestingly the research also revealed that Other Amplitude Modulation affects only around 3% of wind turbine installations in the UK. Very much a minority. These findings were based upon a 2007 research paper produced by the University of Salford. This paper found that only 4 of 135 turbine sites (as were installed in the UK as of 2007) were affected by Other Amplitude Modulation. From this the RenewableUK study concluded that 15 of 521 (currently operational) turbine sites would be affected by Other Amplitude Modulation. Other Amplitude Modulation could be then rightly described as affecting a very small minority of the United Kingdom’s wind turbines. However that does not stop it from being an issue that the UK’s wind industry is keen to address.

As such RenewableUK also published the solutions to the issue of Other Amplitude Modulation which were identified by their research. A software solution is sufficient to deal with the issues involved. Software systems already present in wind turbines can be adapted to change the angles of turbine blades at times when Other Amplitude Modulation could occur. This would avoid the problem of turbine blades momentarily stalling entirely.

Additionally RenewableUK has also entered into partnership with the Institute of Acoustics to produce planning conditions and guidance for the issue of Other Amplitude Modulation. This would ensure that occurrences of Other Amplitude Modulation would be minimized. It would be up to developers to measure instances of Other Amplitude Modulation and set a threshold in decibels above which they would be required to act immediately to change blade angles to minimise the noise. This would occur as part of the planning process. Given the already low level of Other Amplitude Modulation occurrences such planning procedures could virtually eliminate the issue entirely.

Speaking at the publication of the research, RenewableUK’s Deputy Chief Executive Maf Smith commented:

“It’s right that the wind industry should take the lead in investigating issues like this when they arise. As a result of the in-depth research we’ve commissioned, we’ve identified the causes of OAM, and, most importantly, the industry has identified a way to deal with it effectively.

“On the limited and infrequent occasions when OAM occurs, we can address it by using software to adjust the way turbines operate, changing the angle of the blades.

“Beyond that, the industry has worked with members of the UK’s leading acoustics institute to develop a planning condition for local authorities to use, which we’re publishing today alongside this work. This states that if OAM occurs, it’s up to the wind industry to resolve it.

“We’re proud to have commissioned this ground-breaking research as it pushes the boundaries of our knowledge of wind turbine acoustics considerably further forward. It’s a tangible example of the wind industry acting in a responsible manner, demonstrating that we’re continuing to be good neighbours to the communities who host wind farms in the UK”.

In other news this week UK company Blade Dynamics announced it’s plans to move forward development of a ‘very long’ and highly efficient turbine blade. This follows the successful completion of the design stage.

The project is receiving support from the UK Government, the industry-supported Energy Technologies Institute (ETI)  and the wind turbine manufacturer Siemens. Blade Design will now proceed to the prototype stage of the project and hopes to begin testing the new 80 metre long turbine blade before the end of 2014. The blade will be lighter, longer and more efficient than those currently in use.

News of the commencement of the next stage of the project was greeted enthusiastically.  Henrik Stiesdal, chief technology officer at Siemens Wind Power commented; “Subject to successful conclusion of the tests it is clear that the potentials of the split-blade technology of Blade Dynamics would be expected to become even more interesting as we move to even larger turbine platforms.”

Andrew Scott, program manager for offshore wind at the ETI stated:

“The ETI’s vision is to support the development of next-generation blade technology because improved rotor performance is fundamental to achieving the goal of reducing the cost of offshore wind energy.

“We greatly appreciate the ongoing commitment of Siemens to this project with Blade Dynamics. As leaders in this field, this partnership for the development of next-generation rotor technology has the potential to have a huge impact on the cost of offshore wind energy in the future.”

These two announcements indicate the progress which is being made by the UK wind industry. Whether it be the development of new and more efficient technology or the addressing of existing (if extremely infrequently occurring) issues it can be seen that the UK’s wind industry is ending 2013 as it began it; with an eye to the future.

Survey reveals farming industry’s hunger for renewables

Survey reveals farming industry’s hunger for renewables

This week industry trade body RenewableUK held a lunch event in partnership with the River Cottage food business and the online community Energyshare. The lunch was held on the Devon/Cornwall border. The Great British Wind Meal was used as an opportunity to publicize several recent items of research in regards the relationship between British farming and renewable energy.

Several of the speakers at the event suggested that a greater uptake of renewable energy generation by British farmers would help the United Kingdom to meet both it’s food and energy needs. One speaker suggested that as well as helping the UK to meet it’s renewable energy targets farmers stand to benefit from on-site generation by it allowing them to reduce the costs involved in producing food and also ensuring that their businesses are in a better position to navigate through at troubled economic climate for the farming industry.

Speaking at the event, Forum for the Future’s principal sustainability adviser Nicky Conway remarked:

“There are about 300,000 farms in the UK so if you are going to have renewable energy generation at any level of scale, farmers have the land and the capacity to install those renewable energy schemes.

“Therefore they should be a target audience because they have the land and the resources to produce the energy”.

Ms Conway went on to state that Forum for the Future was attempting to increase the uptake of renewable energy generation developments on UK farms:

“The specific way that we would like to do that is to try and build a common evidence-based vision, and [highlight] why can farm-based energy can play such a critical role in the UK’s energy system rather than being a niche activity.

“The other thing we want to do is unlock some of the key barriers. Things like grid connections and accessing finance, particularly for lower income farmers.”

Farm owner Robin Hanbury-Tenison argued against claims that renewable energy developments take land away from food production – giving the example of his own solar panels:

“A lot of people say that PV panels are taking up land, wasting land but far from it if it is done properly.

“My sheep prefer being under or around the panels than being in the open fields. The grass grows better, they also have lovely shelter and they lamb underneath them.”

Attendees at the lunch also heard the results of a new survey carried out in partnership between Nottingham Trent University, the Farmers Weekly and Forum for the Future. The survey was carried out this summer and asked nearly 700 UK farmers for their opinions on farm-based renewable energy. Interestingly 38% of the farmers surveyed revealed that they were already generating renewable energy on their farms with the two most popular technology types being solar PV and wind energy. The majority of those generating electricity from wind energy are feeding at least some proportion of their output into the National Grid. The average capacity of these developments was 176kW however it should be noted that larger scale developments are perfectly possible given the right site and the expertise and experience needed to navigate through the planning process. Furthermore 61% of those who are not already generating renewable energy specified that they would be likely to do so over the next five years. Despite that fact that the majority of those surveyed are already generating renewable energy 76% of respondents did not believe that the full potential of farm-based renewable energy generation was being realized.

The survey was also used to explore farmers perceptions  on what the benefits of renewable energy generation are. 76% of those surveyed (the most-widely held opinion) felt that farm-based renewable energy generation helped to reduce the costs of the other parts of a farm business. 73% felt that renewables provided a safe-means of generating non-fossil fuel energy. 72% felt farm-based renewables helped to contribute to the country’s energy security. 71% expressed the opinion that renewable energy generation provided a good return on investment compared to more traditional farming activities and 65% felt renewable generation helped to combat climate change by reducing a farms carbon footprint. Interestingly 81% of participants felt that family, neighbours and other farmers would approve of a decision to invest in renewable energy generation. These results would suggest that there is a widespread belief amongst the UK’s farming community that renewable energy generation represents a positive investment for the industry.

The farming industry’s opinion on the barriers to farm-based renewable energy generation were also explored in the survey with five problems emerging as the crucial barriers to completing a renewable energy development. 84% of those surveyed identified the major stumbling block as the high investment costs involved. 53% felt that red tape represented a major barrier to completing a development.52% felt the planning process to be cumbersome and costly. 45% felt that local opposition could be a stumbling block and 39% raised the issue of accessing a bank loan. At this point we at Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy) would like to state that have the expertise and experience to address all these issues. We require no investment from the farmers we enter into partnership with, we have vast experience of dealing with the planning process at both a national and local level and all the red tape that may be involved. We always take steps to involve and liaise with local communities through programs such as our Community Contribution and we do not need bank loans to fund our developments.

It was left to broadcaster and campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, responsible for the Wind Meal’s menu, to give the final word on the role that British farmers have to play in renewable energy generation, emphasising that wind energy can be regarded as another crop:

“All farmers are in the business of renewable energy – that’s what food is,

“Farmers produce food, we consume that food for our energy, and for farmers to stay in business it has to be a renewable business.

“The idea of farmers diversifying into ‘pure energy’ as well as food energy makes a whole lot of sense.

“We know that wind is going to be an important part of our energy into the future.

“Who has got best access to wind in the country? Our farmers.”

We at Intelligent Land Investments are very pleased to be playing our part in bringing the benefits of renewable energy generation to as many farmers as possible.

 

 

New UK Wind Energy Record Set

New UK Wind Energy Record Set

Last week the National Grid announced that a record amount of clean energy was generated from wind power on the 29th of November. Over 6 gigawatts of renewable electricity was fed into the National Grid over the half hour period between 2:30 pm and 3:00 pm- generation levels are measured by the National Grid in half hour intervals hence why figures are not supplied in gigawatt-hours.

From 2:30 to 3:00 pm an average of 6,004 megawatts (or 6.004 gigawatts) was fed into the National Grid solely by wind power. This level of generation represents 13.5% of the electricity demand at that time. Furthermore 6 gigawatts of renewable energy is enough to power over 3.4 million UK homes. These figures demonstrate the sizable amount which wind power alone (other forms of renewable energy generation such as hydro-power also made large contributions) is contributing to the UK’s energy needs. 6 gigawatts of wind power also represents 6 gigawatts worth of fossil fuels that did not have to be burned and a sizable amount of carbon dioxide which was not emitted into the atmosphere.

The previous record for wind power generation was set on the 15th of September when 5,739 megawatts was generated in one half hour period. It should be noted, however, that this record was broken several times on the 29th of November – the 6,004 megawatt figure released by the National Grid merely represents the peak of generation. Indeed, over 13% of the UK’s energy demand was being met by wind power frequently throughout the day. This demonstrates the consistency of supply which can be produced by wind energy.

Industry trade body RenewableUK‘s Director of External Affairs Jennifer Webber commented on the setting of a new record:

“Wind energy is consistently setting new records and providing an ever-increasing amount of clean electricity for British homes and businesses. We’re generating from a home-grown source which gives us a secure supply of power at cost we can control, rather than leaving ourselves exposed to the global fluctuation in fossil fuel prices which have driven bills up. Wind gives us a way to make a smooth transition from old-fashioned fuels to a new low-carbon economy.

“We’re also generating tens of thousands of green-collar jobs for people now working in the fast-growing British wind energy industry”.

Of course it should be remembered that the figures released by the National Grid do not represent the full amount of wind energy being generated in the UK – neither on the day or within that specific half hour period. There are a large amount of wind turbines in the UK, particularly within the small to medium scale (the scale at which we at Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy) specialise in) which do not feed power into the National Grid. Such turbines will be supplying power locally or on-site. The owners of such developments are not required to supply real time output data to the National Grid and as such will not have been included in their figures.

It should be noted that UK wind power breaking such records as this is set to become a regular occurrence in the near future as more turbines are consented, constructed and begin to supply power into the National Grid. We at Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy) are looking forward to playing our part in this process as more of our developments are completed in the very near future.

In other news this week the UK Government announced that it is expecting around £40 billion of additional investment to be made in renewable energy generation projects by 2020. It is claimed that figure represents a large amount of progress to the country’s 2020 renewable energy generation targets.

Currently the UK has over 20 gigawatts of operational renewable energy generation capacity. Furthermore there are 11 gigawatts worth of onshore and offshore wind developments which have acquired planning consent and are awaiting construction. As of today there are also 16 renewable generation projects, representing a further 8 gigawatts of capacity if successfully developed, which have reached the next stage of the Final Investment Decision Enabling for Renewables (FIDeR) process. According to a statement released by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) these 16 projects would contribute “around 30% of the new renewables generation we need by 2020”. The statement went on to say that “the UK is now on track to meet that target”.

The level of importance that is being placed upon reforming the UK’s energy grid can be seen in the fact that 58% of the total infrastructure spending laid out in the Government’s National Infrastructure Plan is to be directed towards energy. Given that 10-12% of the UK’s current generation capacity is due to come offline over the next decade we can both the need for new generating capacity and the role that renewable energy generation, and particularly wind generation given the relative maturity of the technology, can play in meeting that need.

The level of investment being predicted by the UK Government is sufficient to generate enough renewable energy to power a further 10 million homes across the UK and reduce CO2 emissions by 20 million tonnes. Such amounts of renewable energy generation will also serve to increase the country’s energy security, reduce significantly our reliance upon international fossil fuel markets and, according to figures announced by DECC, support up to 200,000 jobs. We can see then the huge advantages that a committed push for renewable energy development will bring to the country as a whole.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Greg Davies made the following statement at the release of these figures:

“This package will deliver record levels of investment in green energy by 2020. Our reforms are succeeding in attracting investors from around the world so Britain can replace our ageing power station and keep the lights on.

“Investors are queuing up to express their interest in these contracts. This shows that we are providing the certainty they need, our reforms are working and we are delivering ahead of schedule and to plan.

“With sixteen new major renewable projects progressing in our “go early” stage we are delivering ahead of schedule and are able to begin the move to the worlds first low carbon electricity market faster than expected.”

We at Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy) are delighted to have played a part in setting new wind generation records. We also look forward to helping set new records with our already installed turbines and also those of our developments which will have completed construction in the near future.

 

SSE Launches £50 Million Community Fund for Highlands

SSE Launches £50 Million Community Fund for Highlands

Last week Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) launched their new community benefit fund. The launch took place in Bonar Bridge in the Scottish Highlands. The launch of this fund follows on from a change to the level of community benefit provided by the company’s onshore wind developments; last year the commitment was made that £5000 per megawatt of power per year would be devoted to community benefits. The most commonly used turbine model in SSE’s onshore wind developments  has a capacity of 2.5MW (megawatt) meaning that each of their turbines could be expected to provide around £12,5000 in community benefit every year.

The new fund could potentially provide up to £50 million of support to community groups and projects in the Highlands over the next thirty years. This year will mark the first round of funding and £1 million  is available to interested groups (specifically community groups and charities) which meet the funding criteria. The funding award committee is being chaired by former Scottish First Minister Jack McConnell.

Three priority areas have been developed by SSE and several local stakeholders to receive funding Firstly, job creation and skills training: the funding of apprenticeship schemes, training programs and similar projects to increases peoples chances of entering into employment or progressing further in their careers. Secondly,community energy: the funding of schemes to increase the level of community ownership of renewable energy developments which could create environmental, economic or social benefit. Thirdly, projects which enhance the area’s natural and built environment: schemes for the benefit of the local population and schemes to bring in more visitors to the Highlands are both considered to be priority areas.

A spokesperson for SSE commented at the launch and explained that it was taking place in Bonar Bridge “because we want to feature the success of the SSE Kyle of Sutherland apprenticeship fund, which is fully supported by community benefit from the SSE Achany wind farm.

“The apprenticeship scheme fits in with the criteria of the Sustainable Development fund and we believe it is a great example of how communities  use the funds they receive – for hosting a wind farm – in a sustainable way.

“ In the last three years, seven small businesses and young people from the Ardgay, Criech and Lairg areas have been supported through the scheme.

“We have two apprentices and two business owners coming along to the event, including Moray Munro, owner of WM Munro plumbing in Ardgay and Calum Smart, who is in the final year of his apprenticeship with the firm.”

The closing date for applications for the first round of funding is on the 15th of February 2014.

Of course, it should be remembered that it is not only SSE that operates a community benefit fund, nor is it only full scale wind farms which generate such funding. We here at Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy) have been operating such schemes for some time. Our Community Benefits pre-date both the recently published Community Benefit Guidelines and the establishment of the Community Benefit Register itself.  We, at ILI (RE) have entered into partnerships with Local Authorities and Charities across Scotland. In areas such as South Lanarkshire where the Local Authority operates its own Community Benefit program we have been contributing more than the required amount for all of our completed developments in the area. More information on the Community Benefit Scheme in South Lanarkshire and information on how to apply for funding can be found here. In areas in which there is no Local Authority led Community Benefit Scheme we have entered into partnerships with local charities such as East Renfewshire Good Causes to ensure that such essential work can continue.

In other news week a new report produced by consultancy firm GlobalData has predicted that the small scale wind market is expected to undergo a sustained period of dramatic growth. As of 2012 the global small scale wind market was worth $609 million, by the end of the decade the market is now predicted to increase in size to over $3 billion. This represents an almost five-fold increase in market size in eight year or alternatively a Compound Annual Growth Rate of 22% up to 2020.

As of the end of 2012 there was just over 728MW of installed small scale wind energy worldwide. By 2020 GlobalData is predicting that there will 4,644MW of small scale wind energy installed worldwide. This represents an even more startling Compound Annual Growth Rate of over 26%. At the end of 2012 over 80% of small scale wind power was installed in China, the USA and the UK: 266MW were installed in China, 216MW in the USA and 118MW in the UK. As one would expect given the size of the country and it’s energy needs China is expected to remain a world leader in this sector through the decade. However, it should be noted that the GlobalData report also highlights the UK as an area which can expect significant growth in small scale wind throughout the decade despite the relative maturity of the UK small scale wind sector. Indeed in 2012 the UK was ranked the world’s fastest growing small-scale wind market with over 50MW of new small scale wind developments being installed in one year.

It is our hope that the launch if SSE’s community benefit fund will help to make the public more aware of the good work that the UK’s wind industry is contributing to- on a variety of scales. And regarding the GlobalData report we would say that a bigger small and medium scale wind industry means more community benefit funding.

 

Scotland’s Renewables generating £20 million a year

Scotland’s Renewables generating £20 million a year

New figures released this week by industry trade body Scottish Renewables have demonstrated that renewable energy generation is providing almost £20 million of annual revenue to businesses, farmers, landowners, public sector organisations and homeowners across the country.

Revenue is being produced by generating electricity on site and then feeding it into the national grid. Precisely £19.3 million was earned in this fashion over the last year.

Of course this figure is fully expected to increase in the future as more renewable energy developments are completed and more energy is fed into the grid. This upward trend can be seen in the fact that the amount of renewable energy being generated ‘on-site’ (i.e. on  business premises or farm land) has tripled over the past five years. A vast variety of renewable energy technologies are being utilised in this fashion; rooftop solar arrays, onshore wind turbines and heat pumps are just a few examples of the technologies being used.

Stephanie Clark, Policy Officer for Scottish Renewables, commented on the news:

“It’s not just big companies who are building renewable energy projects, but more and more private individuals and businesses are taking their energy needs into their own hands by looking to renewables.

“We’ve seen farmers use wind power to generate electricity to make ice-cream, universities using biomass boilers as a heat supply and minibuses powered by biodiesel. In all of these examples they are managing to do three things; lower their energy costs in the future, reduce their carbon footprint and potentially generate income.”

At Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy) we have been helping farmers, landowners and public sector organisations to obtain their own renewable energy developments and realise the potential of their land for several years. With particular emphasis on small and medium scale wind developments and Scotland’s agricultural industry we have erected wind turbines for individuals across the country.

Scotland’s agricultural industry has come under increasing financial pressure over the last few years due to several factors including reforms to the European Unions Common Agricultural Policy payments but predominately due to ever rising energy costs. According to DECC (Department of Energy and Climate Change) statistics  the average annual prices for gas and electricity  for non-domestic customers have increased by 121% and 93% respectively. The use of ‘on site’ wind generation of the scale suitably appropriate for the average Scottish farm provides access to the UK Governments FiTs (Feed-in Tariffs); a significant and much needed revenue stream. In the past few years experience we have built up here at Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy) we have gained an insight into how much of a difference this can make. Several of the farmers we have helped to progress and complete development  stated to us that the wind turbine we delivered was the game-changer that would allow them to continue to operate their business. It was a service we were delighted to give them

Of course, as we have discussed on this blog before, the owner of the land on which a renewable energy development sits is not the only beneficiary from the revenue it brings in. It has long been company policy here at Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy) for all of our renewable energy developments to provide a community benefit to the area in which it is situated. This Community Benefit has generally taken one of two forms. In cases when the Local Authority in which a development is sited operates its own Renewable Energy Fund we turn funding over to the Local Authority to allocate as it sees fit. In many of the Local Authority Areas in which we completed developments the contribution they required was less than the standard amount we provide for our own Community Benefits. In all these cases we provided our full and usual amount. In cases in which the Local Authority has no Renewable Energy Fund (and frequently no requirement for a Community Benefit at all) we entered into partnership  with a local charity operating within the Local Authority boundaries. We have agreements with several community charities across Scotland with groups such as East Renfrewshire Good Causes; who provide expertise, support and funding for those in need within the local authority. Here at Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy) our charity partnerships are very much a source of pride.

It should be emphasised that small and medium scale wind turbine developments are not just the preserve of Scotland’s farmers. For example, Stewart Tower Dairy in Stanley, Perthshire, has installed a single wind turbine which has been operational since January. It has already helped the business – which makes ice cream for Harvey Nichols and Gleneagles, among others – offset rising energy costs.

Owner Neil Butler said: “Making ice cream uses a lot of power, for fridges, freezers, compressors, and as we are on a plateau – about 300ft up with good wind speeds – a turbine seemed to make sense.

“The benefit for us is not selling power into the grid, but the offset; we are providing almost half the power we need using the turbine and that is saving us enormous amounts when power bills are rising around 10 per cent a year. When you look at that kind of price rise, on-site renewables look very attractive.”

Scotland’s renewable energy industry has achieved much in a short space of time and we at Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy) have played our part in that process but there is still so much more that can be achieved.

 

Scottish Renewables publish new guidelines for Community Benefits

Scottish Renewables publish new guidelines for Community Benefits

This week the industry trade body Scottish Renewables launched a new protocol for onshore wind developments and community benefits in Scotland. The protocol outlines a series of guidelines  for community benefits stemming from new onshore wind developments.

This is the first protocol of this kind to be used in Scotland.

The protocol outlines four key commitments for onshore wind developments in Scotland. Firstly, developers are committed to providing a yearly community benefit of £5000 per megawatt (or equivalent) for all wind farm developments with a generating capacity of 5 Megawatts or over. Secondly,developers are required to support and follow the forthcoming Community Benefit Good Practise Guidance. This Guidance is currently being developed by a number of bodies in partnership. These bodies include the Scottish Government, Local Energy Scotland (LES), Scottish Renewables, Foundation Scotland, Consumer Futures as well as other industry partners, communities and local governments. Thirdly, all new onshore developments are to signed up to the Scottish Government’s Community Benefit Register. Lastly, developers are committed to exploring the potential of community ownership of renewable infrastructure as well as cooperating with the Scottish Government in producing further good practise guidance. It should be noted that this guidance does not apply for developments which already have community benefit agreements in place or those developments for which a final planning decision has been made.

Scottish Renewables Chief Executive, Niall Stuart, made the following statement at the launch of the new protocol:

“We want to clearly state our industry’s commitment to delivering local benefits from every new wind farm in Scotland.  The protocol will also ensure a consistent approach to the development of community benefit agreements.

“According to the Scottish Government’s online register, community benefit has topped £5 million per year and we’re keen to build on that success as new projects are developed.

“To date we’ve seen major changes being brought about thanks to community benefit funding, for example, energy efficiency measures, college bursaries, investment in local museums, cycle paths and tracks, and even funding for community transport schemes.”

Mr Stuart added: “As the most mature of renewable technologies, the benefits from onshore wind stretch far beyond the local area. Wind power meets the equivalent of more than 20 per cent of our electricity demand, tackles climate change, is responsible for attracting more than £1.3 billion of investment into the Scottish economy and employs thousands of people too.

“There are a number of examples across the country such as Earlsburn and Neilston where local communities have a financial stake in the wind farm by owning individual turbines or entire projects. By encouraging our members to explore community ownership as a possibility, we hope to strengthen the relationship between developers and local people to maximise the benefits onshore wind can bring.”

Scottish Government Energy Minister Fergus Ewing also commented:

I welcome today’s announcement by Scottish Renewables of the first set of standards that have been developed by the Scottish onshore wind industry that will ensure commitment on community benefits standards.

“The Scottish protocol goes further than those adopted in other parts of the UK in that, as well as the baseline rate, developers will be committing to consider the scope for direct community investment in their schemes, as well as to adhere to our forthcoming Good Practice Guidance and to use our public Register.

“Scotland is continuing to lead the way on community energy, and this commitment to a baseline level of community benefits of at least £5k per MW continues to set the pace. This protocol is an important step in the right direction as we move towards a position where as many new wind farms as possible, even small scale developments, are able to sign up to these commitments.

“In light of recent announcements regarding the renewable sector in Scotland these set of standards not only show strong leadership from Scottish Renewables, but also the huge investment opportunities still to come make it even more vital that DECC think again about the level of support being proposed through Electricity Market Reform.”

It should be stated that we at Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable  Energy) provide a community benefit for every single one of our consented developments (whether one is required or not – as had previously been the case). Often this takes the form of an annual contribution to charities operating at a local level. In other cases we enter into partnership with local authorities and allow them to direct the funding (as is the case with many of the community benefits stemming from large scale wind farms) using their local knowledge to  direct funding to where they think it is most needed. We at ILI (RE) are extremely proud of the help we are able to provide to worthy causes up and down the country.

In other news it was announced last week that the Scottish island of Gigha will be the site for testing of new battery storage systems. The island is already home to several wind turbines which are supplying power locally as well as feeding into the grid on the mainland. However, there is a limit to how much power the island can export to the mainland. Currently any excess is going unused. The new battery systems will allow power to be stored at times of excess generation and will mean that less power will have to be imported from the mainland. The scheme is supported by the Department of Energy and Climate Change and will use large-scale batteries containing 75,000 litres of sulphuric acid. Such battery systems, if tested successfully, could be used across isolated regions of the country and help to achieve the renewable energy targets laid out at both UK and Scottish Government levels.

The new Community Benefit protocol laid out by Scottish Renewables will serve both developers and communities. Communities will know exactly the level of funding they should be expected to receive and developers will benefit from increased awareness of the Community Benefit Programme.

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