Tag: Feed-in tariffs

Majority of UK Public Support Renewables

Majority of UK Public Support Renewables

A survey published last weekend in the Sunday Times has revealed that public support for renewable energy remains strong across the political spectrum. Support for renewable energy continues to outstrip support for shale gas developments despite a concentrated and sustained media campaign by shale gas companies.

The survey, carried out by YouGov, polled 1,952 people, establishing their political preferences and asked them if they were in favour of financial support for a variety of energy generation technologies. The poll revealed that a majority of all four political parties supporters were in favour of continued funding for renewable technologies such as wind and tidal power.

Regardless of political opinion, a majority of 65% were in favour of continuing support for the wind industry. This was a strong result given the continuing campaign against the industry in some parts of the media. 76% of those polled were in favour of financial support for the embryonic tidal power industry and 79% were favourable to continued support for solar power. These poll results seem to indicate that a consensus exists among the public in regards to renewable energy generation. Nearly two-thirds of those polled are of the opinion that renewable energy is the solution both to rising energy prices and climate change. This is reflected in the poll results for fossil fuel use. Only 40% of those polled were in favour of financial support for shale gas despite the optimistic estimates made in some parts of the media about it’s potential impact upon the domestic energy market. This belief in renewable energy was also seen in the fact that only 49% of those polled were in favour of financial support for nuclear support. This is despite the fact that new nuclear power generation will not be able to go ahead in this country without very heavy financial support from the government.

Shale gas has rapidly become a concern for many people within the UK; as demonstrated by the anti-fracking protest groups which are springing up across the country. Such concerns are reflected in the polling data. For example, 47% of those polled considered shale gas extraction (fracking) to be damaging to the environment. Only 31% believed that this was not the case. Furthermore, 43% of people felt that shale gas development would be harmful to their local area. Only 25% of people would be happy to see fracking proceed in their locality.

The fact that UKIP were included as one of the political party preferences demonstrates their growth; particularly in England. The party has often been perceived as an extremist (in some regards) offshoot of the Conservative party. One would expect therefore their supporters to be strongly anti-renewables. However, 51% of polled UKIP supporters were in favour of financial support for wind power and 76% in favour of support for marine energy. These results correlate with an earlier survey which found that voters favour politicians who actively support wind power. Public support for wind energy generation continues to be strong.

RenewableUK‘s Director of External Affairs, Jennifer Webber released the following statement about the poll results:

“Poll after poll shows that voters value low carbon technologies such as wind and tidal power. This latest poll shows that there’s not a single age group or voting demographic where a majority of people don’t want financial support for wind. It’s clear that for politicians, whether they’re UKIP, Conservative, Liberal Democrat or Labour that further development of our natural wind and marine resources is the way to go.

“With a recent study from Cardiff University showing that over 80% of people are worried about becoming overly dependent on energy from other countries, it’s important that confidence is retained for domestic low carbon producers. Wind provided enough power for the equivalent of 4.5 million homes last year and needs to play an increasing role in our electricity provision. If we press strongly on, as supporters of all political parties are urging, we can also build on our offshore and marine supply chain to create tens of thousands of jobs over the next decade”.

In other news, several major turbine manufacturers are collaborating together on solutions to reduce bird fatalities caused by turbine blades. The project is being led by Energy Norway, includes contributions from Statoil, Vatenfall, Trønder Energi Kraft, NVE and NINA, and is supported by the Research Council of Norway. Although research has demonstrated that turbines have no long term impact on bird populations and indeed cause less fatalities than traffic or domestic cats bird deaths remains an issue for some members of the public. This new pilot scheme will test whether painting some parts of wind turbines black (for instance one of the turbine blades or part of the tower) can increase their visibility to bird species and reduce collisions. The use of ultraviolet paint (which is invisible to the human eye) is also being explored. Trials are to be carried out at the 68 turbine Smøla wind farm in Northern Norway. Whilst any step which can be taken to reduce collisions is welcome it should be remembered that the most significant steps taken to avoid harming bird populations are carried out at the planning stage. Stringent planning requirements exist in Scotland (and the wider UK) to ensure that turbines are placed in areas in which they will have a minimal impact on protected species, large populations and migratory routes. However, if such schemes can further minimise bird deaths then they be welcomed by both the wind industry and the public.

Wind power continues to receive the support of the British public. But the result of this fact must not be complacency.The wind power industry must continue to get it’s message across. And programs such as that being trailed in Norway can only help to do so.

Reactions to Digest of UK Energy Statistics 2013

Reactions to Digest of UK Energy Statistics 2013

Government figures were released last week which show that the amount of electricity being produced from renewable sources is continuing to soar. The annual Digest of UK Energy Statistics revealed that the amount of electricity generated from renewables increased by 19% in 2012 compared to the previous year. Indeed in 2012 renewable sources provided 11.3% of the total electricity generated in the UK in 2012.

A spokesperson for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) described the statistical data as “very encouraging” and emphasised that the UK was well on track to meet the agreed EU target of 15% of energy to be generated from renewables by 2015.The majority of the increase in renewable generation came from the wind industry: 46% more energy was generated from offshore wind in 2012 than in 2011 and 17% more from onshore wind. The huge leap in offshore wind generation can be attributed to falling development costs and long planned developments being connected to the grid. The more mature onshore sector still saw impressive growth as more and more people have sought to develop land; whether for large scale wind farms or small and medium turbine developments. That the UK’s wind industry has contributed so much to these impressive and headline making figures underlines the importance of the industry to the country and the scale of the opportunity that Europe’s largest wind resource has presented.

The data also revealed that the UK’s total energy consumption increased by 1.7% in 2012. While this information may initially raise questions about the energy efficiency programmes being pursued in the UK: a closer reading reveals that these programmes are beginning to bear fruit. The increase in energy consumption has been attributed to the cold weather experienced in 2012. When this is factored into the figures it is revealed that energy consumption was down 0.7% compared to 2011.

The publication of that data was greeted enthusiastically by the UK’s renewables industry. Maf Smith, Deputy Chief Executive at industry trade body RenewableUK released the following statement:

“These figures confirm the recent trends we have seen that show renewables, and especially wind, playing an ever-increasing role in our electricity generation. They come at the end of a busy period for wind, which has seen the largest offshore wind farm in the world opened at London Array, as well as number of major onshore sites going live. We have made some remarkable progress over recent years, and this is another shot in the arm for the renewables sector. With wind generating around half of electricity from renewables we are leading the charge in the race to decarbonise our electricity market.

“These figures also show that as a country we are becoming increasingly dependent on expensive imported fossil fuels, with a rise to over 40% in the amount we depend on fossil fuels brought in from abroad. This yet again shows the need to continue to build on the success we have seen in renewables as a way of helping us achieve energy independence.”

In other industry news the first section of Scottish and Southern Energy’s (SSE) new power line, which will run from Beauly in Invernesshire to Denny in Stirlingshire, has been energised. The long-planned line is intended to link up renewable developments in the north of the country with energy-demand centres in the central belt. This first section runs from Beauly to Fort Augustus. The entire project is scheduled to be completed in 2015 and will have capacity for 1.2 Gigawatts of renewable energy.

SSE’s Managing Director of Networks, Mark Mathieson, stated:

“This is a proud moment for SSE. Our progress is testament to the teamwork which identified the need for the line, guided it through planning and has now delivered the first section of the UK’s longest transmission line through some of its most challenging terrain.

“Over the past two years, the project has generated around £86 million in Gross Value Added (GVA) to the Scottish economy and created around 1,500 jobs. We hope to replicate the positive benefits from this project with the other grid upgrades that SHE [Scottish Hydro Electric] Transmission is progressing as part of a multi billion pound investment programme which will help increase security of supply, decarbonise electricity supplies and promote sustainable economic growth.”

Niall Stuart, Chief Executive of trade body Scottish Renewables, greeted the news with much enthusiasm:

“This newly upgraded line will help support many renewable energy projects in the north of Scotland, providing thousands of homes and businesses across the country with clean renewable electricity.

“Upgrading grid infrastructure is one of our biggest challenges in reaching the 2020 target of generating the equivalent of 100 per cent of our electricity needs from renewables and its major investment projects like the Beauly-Denny transmission line which will help us achieve this.”

These two pieces of news demonstrate the present and future success of the UK’s renewable industry. Developers, such as ourselves at Intelligent Land Invesments (Renewable Energy), are already delivering renewable energy in large quantities to UK energy consumers, counteracting rising gas prices and increasing the country’s energy security, but there is more to be achieved. Investment and projects such as the Beauly-Denny line and the Kintyre-Hunterston line (discussed in last week’s blog) will allow more renewable energy developments to progress and help ensure that UK and Scottish renewable generation targets are met. Such ambitions require progress to be made in a variety of fields; progress which is being made.

New radar system could mean boon for onshore wind

New radar system could mean boon for onshore wind

Last week a new and potentially revolutionary 3D radar system was tested in Scotland. The new system is designed to eliminate interference in radar systems from wind turbines.

Current radar systems can be subject to interference from wind turbines. When spinning and generating power turbines in areas covered by aviation radar systems can potentially confuse or ‘clutter’ radar. Whilst there are some limited solutions available to turbine developers the scale at which these can be used is limited. Existing aviation radar systems can be ‘patched’  to reduce any potential for ‘clutter’ on radar screens however this must be done on an individual basis and it is generally the case that one patch can be used in a 2.5 kilometre radius. Additionally patches are not always available. These limitations have meant that many potential onshore wind developments have been unable to progress despite them meeting all other criteria for development in terms of environmental and landscape impact,grid capacity, visual impact etc. The trade body RenewableUK has estimated that approximately 6.2 GW (Gigawatts) worth of onshore wind developments have been held up due to such aviation issues. However, this figure is likely to be higher due to developments being dropped early or never progressed with due to expectations of such issues down the line.

The new 3D holographic radar system was successfully tested at Prestwick Airport last week by the systems developer Aveillant. The new 3D radar system was successful in differentiating between spinning turbine blades and flying aircraft. The turbines at Millour Wind Farm which is nearby to Prestwick Airport were used to conduct the tests. It should be noted this this windfarm is located in an area which does not cause any potential safety risks to the existing radar system at Prestwick Airport.

The new radar system has also been succesfully tested recently in the United States; at Indian Mesa Wind Farm in West Texas. In both tests the system was completely successful in pinpointing the location of all turbines and aircraft (as part of the test information about the flight-paths and altitudes of aircraft passing over and near to the turbines was not made known in advance) without any interference. Following the US tests it was announced that American civil and military surveillance requirements were successfully met. Gordon Oswald, Aveillant’s Chief Technology Officer stated:

“We don’t know exactly what was flown overhead – we’re talking about the most sophisticated government in the world here, and they will be out to test us – but we can confirm that several different types of aircraft were detected above and around the wind farm, and that our radar easily distinguished between wind farms and different types of aircraft.”

It is worth noting that the radar system was safely and successfully installed for the US test in less than a day. Developer Aveillant has announced that provided further, more detailed, tests are successful then the radar system could be in commercial operation by the end of this year.

David Crisp, chief executive at Aviellant made the following statement after the completion of the test at Prestwick:

“This is the first live demonstration of the radar [in the UK] and it has gone fantastically well.

“We have had very good feedback from wind farm developers and the Civil Aviation Authority, and will be doing more detailed risk assessments to meet the CAA’s standards.

“It’s an interesting thing to demonstrate because we are basically showing that there is nothing to see. Normal radar sweeps around once every four seconds. Holographic 3D radar is the next generation technology, going round four times per second, or 16 times faster.

“The first aim was to prove that the 3D radar can differentiate between aircraft and turbines, which was clearly demonstrated. The second aim was to show that the holographic radar can be integrated with airport radar, which happened seamlessly.

“If all those objections shown in the RenewableUK data last year were removed you could almost double the amount of wind farms in the UK. This will have a huge impact in Scotland, which is, quite rightly I think, very committed to wind power and has a very good wind climate compared to England.”

Several major players in the onshore wind industry have invested in the development of this new radar system through the Aviation Investment Fund Company Limited (AIFC).Currently AIFC has invested £500,000 in the development. Their chairman Simon Heyes was present at the test in the UK and made the following comment to the press:

“To see what we have heard so much about has been really good. It certainly takes us a step forward to our goal of getting wind farms constructed where they currently are held up by objections from airports.”

Industry body Scottish Renewables has estimated that around half of all wind turbine applications which have ran into aviation issues are in Scotland. From this then we can see the contribution the roll-out of such new radar systems could make not just to Scotland’s onshore wind industry but to our country’s targets in renewable energy generation, carbon emission reduction and to increasing our energy security.

Scottish Renewables’ senior policy manager Ross Blairmie reacted to the successful testing:

“For a number of years the industry has been working extensively to understand how wind farms interact with radars used by the aviation industry … This has resulted in major investments being made to find innovative solutions to tackle the issue.

“Scottish Renewables welcomes the new research and technology being tested by Aveillant and hopes to work with companies like them, along with the Scottish Government and the aviation industry, to find a solution to remove this significant barrier to the development of onshore wind in Scotland.”

It is worth noting that the issue of radar interference has not just affected the development of large scale wind farms but small and medium scale developments such as those carried out by ourselves at Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy). Whilst much of the media attention has focused on wind farms, as is often the case, there are landowners and farmers in many areas of Scotland who have been unable to progress with their developments due to aviation concerns. The successful commercial deployment of new 3D radar systems represents an opportunity for many farmers and landowners to progress with onshore wind developments. Meaning that much needed revenue streams can be accessed in what are difficult times for many in the agricultural industry. Additionally the progression of such developments would also mean more funding for community contribution schemes such as we at ILI (RE) operate.

We eagerly await further news on this front.

 

 

South Lanarkshire wind attracting large investments

South Lanarkshire wind attracting large investments

Last week,  a share issue was launched by a Scottish Wind-farm Co-operative to fund wind projects in South Lanarkshire. This share issue indicates not only the extraordinarily competitive returns that renewable energy developments can bring but also the status of South Lanarkshire as one of the best regions in the United Kingdom for onshore wind developments.

The Spirit of Lanarkshire Wind Co-operative launched it’s share issue last week, aiming to raise up to £2.7 million for two wind farm developments in the area. If the share issue is over-subscribed priority will be given to South Lanarkshire residents. Within it’s first week it has raised £132,000. According to the chairman of the co-operative a respectable annual rate of return of 8.5% is expected.

Tom Robinson, an investor in previous share issues, commented:

“It has worked out excellent. There was one year when we only got 7.6%, but then you look at an ISA paying 0.1%. One year it was 10.6%.”

Similarly, last month an Australian renewable energy firm launched a four year ‘mini bond’, offering a fixed rate of return of 7.5%, intended to finance both solar and onshore wind projects within the UK. The frequent occurrence of such share issues illustrates the profits that can be made from renewable energy development. However, it should be remembered both that these are not risk free investments nor are they the only investments which one can make in this field.

Bonds purchased in such share issues cannot be traded on the UK stock market. Nor are they covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme; leaving the investor open to risk in the event of such developments not proceeding as planned. Finally, in the case of the Co-operative share issue, investors will not be paid back until after 25 years i.e. the life span of a wind farm. For many people in South Lanarkshire and elsewhere (particularly land owners) smaller scale developments may prove to be more suitable.

Such developments, do however, confirm South Lanarkshire as one of the United Kingdom’s best regions for onshore wind developments. High wind speeds, tracts of rural land, an informed public and local authority all add up to a prime renewable region.

We at Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy) offer our landowners an extremely competitive rate of return with the enhanced attractiveness that we require no monetary investment from them. All development costs are met by us. This, combined with the fact that small or medium scale turbine developments are far quicker to progress through planning than full scale wind farm development, means that  a landowner may be able to make more money more quickly from only one or two turbines than from a wind farm and not just in South Lanarkshire but across all of Scotland.

 

Biggar Museum to be funded by onshore wind

Biggar Museum to be funded by onshore wind

It was announced this week that the Biggar Museum Trust has been awarded £620,000 of funding from the Clyde wind farm community fund by South Lanarkshire Council. This funding means that the Trust will now be able to build a new facility to house Biggar Museum’s collection.

The Clyde wind farm community fund allocates approximately £800,000 annually to community and business projects in South Lanarkshire. As such the £620,000 awarded to the Biggar Museum Trust represents the largest single contribution made by the fund, administered by South Lanarkshire Council on behalf of SSE’s (Scottish and Southern Energy’s) Community Investment Programme. At least £20 million will be invested in South Lanarkshire over the 25 year life span of the 152 turbine, 350 Megawatt  Clyde Wind Farm.

Biggar Museum Trust has been trying for a number of years to develop a new facility. Currently the Trust’s collection, which has been being built up over the last 40 years, is currently scattered across a number of locations across Biggar. in 2012 the Trust had applied unsuccessfully for Lottery Funding but has now been able to secure a larger level of funding thanks to local renewable energy developments.

The new facility will be based at the former Stephens Garage on Biggar High Street. Estimates submitted as part of the funding application indicate that the new museum will bring in approximately £88,000 per year to the local economy. Upon receiving the news that the funding application had been successful James Dawney, Chairman of the Biggar Museum Trust, commented:

“We are absolutely delighted with this award. It represents a major element of the financing needed to build the new museum of Biggar and Upper Clydesdale, a project that will not only safeguard the future of Biggar’s unique collection but will also create a cultural hub for visitors and local people to connect with their heritage and enjoy a wide range of activities.”

Chair of South Lanarkshire Council’s Enterprise Services Committee, Councillor Chris Thompson, said: “This project is great news for the people of Biggar and the surrounding communities. Hopefully it will attract people from far and wide and allow them to see for themselves the impressive collection of artefacts the Trust has collected over the years.”

Ciara Wilson, SSE Community Investment Advisor, added:”SSE is proud to be backing a project of this calibre through our Clyde wind farm fund. The new museum has the potential to create significant economic benefits for the wider community by bringing new visitors to the area and supporting other local businesses in turn. It will be a great legacy for future generations.”

It should be noted that the Biggar Museum Trust was not the only project to be awarded funding from the Clyde wind farm community fund; nor indeed was the only fund to be allocated this week. For example the Clyde wind farm community fund also awarded £32,402 to the Rigside Playpark Group – a band of parents and local volunteers – to redevelop a playpark in the village of Rigside. Similarly the Douglas Playpark Group was awarded £46,185 to redevelop the Manse View Playpark

The Blacklaw Renewable Energy Fund (again administered by South Lanarkshire Council on behalf of ScottishPower Renewables) awarded £15,322 to the Fourth Royal British Legion to refurbish their premises in Blacklaw Village. New toilet and kitchen facilities will be installed as part of this refurbishment. Funding was also awarded to St Mary’s Episcopal Church in Hamilton to carry out refurbishment work. These are just some of the examples of the good work which is being facilitated, not just in South Lanarkshire but across the country, by renewable energy developments, particularly onshore wind.

Councillor Chris Thompson, the chair of the council’s Enterprise Services Committee, which approved the applications, observed: “All of the projects given approval today will have a real benefit for their community. I am delighted that such a wide range of them have received this support.

“We do of course have to thank the various wind farm operators as the money comes from them and we simply administer the funds on their behalf.”

Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy) is pleased to be able to say that we are also contributing to South Lanarkshire Council’s renewable energy fund through the large number of consented developments we have in the area. We also look forward to increasing the level of this funding by increasing the number of developments we have consented in South Lanarkshire.

However, it must be pointed out that there numerous local authorities within Scotland that do not operate such funds. This is perhaps unfortunate as it can make the benefits renewable energy developments can bring to an area less visible. This is an issue that we hope the Scottish Government Community Benefit Register is rectifying.

In such areas, which do not have a council administrated fund, we at Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy) have made our own arrangements. Often in areas in which there is no obligation to offer a community benefit of any kind. Contributions are being made to community groups and local charities up and down the country, particularly in areas of child support and development. It is our belief that the benefits of local renewable energy developments should be directed at those most in need. The unsupported, marginalised and vulnerable. Medium scale single turbine developments such as ours not only mean that the benefits brought by feed-in-tariffs are not limited to large-scale landowners but that community benefits can go beyond construction and into vital local social support networks.

 

 

Scotland achieves Europe’s biggest carbon reduction

Scotland achieves Europe’s biggest carbon reduction

Last week new figures were published by the Scottish Government which have revealed the strides the country is taking in reducing carbon emissions. Ambitious targets were set by the current administration; as with renewable energy generation.

The released statistics show that carbon emissions went down by 9.9% in 2011 compared to 2010. This is the largest reduction on record. In 2010, Scotland was responsible for 56.9MtCO2e (metric tonnes of carbon emissions) being released into the atmosphere. 2011 saw 51.3MtCO2e being released into the atmosphere – a reduction of 5.6MtCO2e. These results ensured that Scotland retained its position as the most successful EU-15 member state (the EU-15 is composed of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the countries of the United Kingdom) in reducing its level of carbon emissions. Over the period 1990-2011 Scotland has successfully reduced carbon emissions by 29.6%.

Unfortunately, despite the record breaking nature of these emission reductions Scotland was unable to meet the revised target for 2011 by a narrow margin of 0.8MtCO2e. The Scottish Government attributed this to a revision of the historical data which was used to set carbon emission reduction targets in 2009. Spokespeople for the Government stressed that the country has been successful in meeting the reduction target for the year in percentage terms. The failure to meet the target in terms of carbon emissions themselves was wholly attributed to the revised and thusly increased levels of carbon emissions between 1990 and 2009. Had these figures been un-revised the 2011 target would have been exceeded.  It was emphasised that the 2020 carbon emission target is still absolutely achievable and as of this point in time the country will have to reduce its level of carbon emissions by 44% over the next seven years. Scotland is over halfway there.

Paul Wheelhouse, Scottish Government Minister for Environment and Climate Change announced the release of the data with the following statement:

‪“Latest statistics published show that Scotland is on course to meet our climate change targets.

“In 2011 unadjusted emissions fell by 9.9 per cent – the largest year-on-year drop since records began. They also show large decreases in greenhouse gas emissions in the energy supply, residential and public sectors.

“The long term trend shows we will achieve our world-leading target of a 42 per cent emissions reduction if we continue on the course we have set. I also welcome that Scotland continues to lead the EU15 on emissions reductions.

“Despite changes to the historical data on emissions, making this year’s target harder to achieve, we have come within touching distance of it, and the revised targets mean we will all need to focus our efforts in the future to stay on course.

“Whilst I am disappointed we have not achieved our climate change reduction goal for 2011 in carbon terms, we have met it in percentage terms – with a 25.7 per cent reduction between 1990 and 2011. If the baseline had not changed the target would also have been met in carbon terms.”

Responses to the information were perhaps somewhat muted but optimistic for the future. Dr Sam Gardner of Stop Climate Chaos Scotland commented:

“We recognise that this is due in part to complicated changes in how we count our emissions, but the headline of another missed target strongly underlines the need for the much tougher climate action plan – expected out later this month – that will drive down emissions year on year and give confidence that future targets can be met.”

There was further good news in other aspects of the countries long term energy strategy. For instance, nearly two thirds (65%) of homes in Scotland were ranked ‘good’ in terms of energy efficiency. This represents an increase of 15% since such data was last collated in 2007.

Additionally, Scotland is ahead of schedule in meeting the 2020 target for 100% of the country’s electricity needs to be generated from renewable sources. Provisional data indicates that in 2012 38.7% of Scotland’s electricity needs were generated using renewable sources. Given that the first marine and tidal tubine farms will begin feeding electricity into the national grid over the course of the next few years and the increasing prevalence and popularity of onshore wind then one one would expect the 2015 interim target of 50% of electricity needs to be generated from renewables to be exceeded as well.

Responding to these comments Scottish Government Energy Minister Fergus Ewing (who was involved in a round-table discussion with our Chief Executive Mark Wilson last week) commented:

“2012 was another record year for renewables in Scotland.  Scotland also contributed more than a third of the entire UK’s renewables output, demonstrating just how important a role our renewable resource is playing in terms of helping the UK meet its binding EU renewable energy targets.

“We remain firmly on course to generate the equivalent of 100 per cent of Scotland’s electricity needs from renewables by 2020 – with renewables generating more than enough electricity to supply every Scottish home.”

With the Scottish Government also announcing increased support for wind power it is clear that the country is committed to carbon emission reduction and renewable energy. ILI (Renewable Energy) will continue to do it’s part in contributing to the fulfillment of these targets and keeping energy bills down for consumers by reducing dependence upon fossil fuel imports

ILI (Renewable Energy) at the Hypothesis Conference

ILI (Renewable Energy) at the Hypothesis Conference

We at Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy) are delighted to announce that our Chief Executive Officer Mark Wilson will be appearing on the discussion panel of the Opening Plenary Session of the 10th annual Hypothesis Conference at Herriot Watt University on the 11th of June.

The Hypothesis Conference is being held on the 11th and 12th of June.

The Conference, which is being sponsored by the Scottish Government, will bring together attendees from more than 40 different countries to discuss hydrogen and fuel cells in-depth. Particular focus will be given to the role that Hydrogen Energy Storage will have on the Renewable Energy Industry over the next years.

It is expected that hydrogen storage will play an increasingly important role in the renewables industry as economies move away from traditional fossil fuel generation. For example, hydrogen has been touted as the transport fuel of the future. Increased use of hydrogen and battery power in automotive transport will be hugely important to meeting carbon emission reduction targets across Europe and the wider world.

Our CEO, Mark Wilson, will participate in the conference’s opening session alongside several leading political and industrial figures. The session will be chaired by Elizabeth Johnson, Director of the Scottish Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association and Business Development Manager for Pure Energy. Other participants include Fergus Ewing MSP, Scottish Government Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism, Sue Bruce, Chief Executive Officer for Edinburgh City Council, and Paul Lucchese, President of NERGHY (European Research Association on Hydrogen and Fuel Cells), Project Manager at CEA (Commissariat á l’energie atomique et aux énergies alternatives) and co-author of ‘Hydrogen, the post-oil Fuel?’. A prestigious panel across the board.

We at Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy) feel we have a complete familiarity with the issues facing the UK’s renewable energy industry in terms of grid access and capacity. There are renewable energy developments across the country that may not be able to proceed due to there being no available or economically viable grid capacity.  But there are solutions available or being developed. Hydrogen could be a game changer for such developments; whether being produced to store energy for use elsewhere or being used as a transport fuel. Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy) itself has a number of renewable energy sites under development where hydrogen is intended to play a key role. For example; in areas of the country such as the Inner Hebrides where grid access and capacity is severely limited. Such developments will be at the forefront of increasingly utilised off-grid solutions for renewable energy and will be essential to achieving both UK and Scottish Government renewable energy targets.

We are proud not only of our representation at the Hypothesis Conference but also the role we will to play in bringing it’s aims to fruition.

Community Benefits

Community Benefits

It is frequently the case that any mooted renewable energy development will also propose to establish a community benefit of some sort.

Most often this benefit takes the form of an annual charitable donation or  annual funding given to a local community group to direct where it is felt to be most needed. Community benefits are often one of the most important aspects of any proposed development ;and certainly one of the most relevant to local communities. However, it can be argued that community benefits are frequently one of the less publicised elements of any development. Developers and, it must be said, Local Authorities often fail to successfully get their message across.Debate is often led up the path of spurious speculation on health rather than the concrete benefits developments can bring in these times of ever decreasing central and local funding

In our experience, the potential for community benefits to be lost in the debate over development is not helped by the fact that there is little consistency across Local Authority areas in how such funding is not just collected or administered but if it is even required. For some Local Authorities community benefits are collected and managed by the Local Authority itself; such as in South Lanarkshire. It may be the case that only developments above a certain scale  are required to produce a community benefit. In some councils providing a community benefit is not considered to be mandatory. The lack of consistency between Local Authorities in the requirements for community benefits could be argued to be real hindrance to renewable energy developments in this country. Community benefits are often the most immediately palpable positive part of a development but their impact may be heavily diluted by a lack of public awareness or expectation. Perhaps if community benefits were more widely promoted by both developers and local authorities it would enable local communities to engage more fully with the arguments surrounding potential developments.

We at Intelligent Land Investments would like, at this time, to stress that all of our developments proposed, consented or constructed includes a community benefit regardless of whether one is required by the local authority. Frequently in cases where we are paying into a council managed fund we are paying more than required by that council. In all of the cases in which there is no requirement for a community benefit  we sought out a local charity working widely within the local authority area of a development, helping the vulnerable of that community, ran by members of that community for the benefit of that community.

The Scottish Government has taken some steps to promote and publicise community benefits but more could be done.

The Community Benefit Register, launched last year, which can be found here provides details of all of the community benefits provided by constructed renewable developments. However it is not mandatory to register community benefits on the website let alone mandatory to provide them. More standardisation of community benefits across local authority areas could prove to be extremely beneficial. For instance making the provision of community benefits mandatory across the country would shift the debate from promoting their existence to promoting not just the good work they could fund but the good work they are already funding. We at Intelligent Land Investments feel that promoting such work would have more impact than promoting the difference in projected energy bill pricing between a renewables and fossil fuel based energy system.

 

A Good Week

A Good Week

Last week saw good news for us here at Intelligent Land Investments as we saw five of our sites gain planning approval over the course of a few days. This acceleration of sites coming through the planning process is the result of much hard work over the last year in signing up, assessing and making the case for our sites to communities and councils.

The five sites are in Local Authority Areas across the country including Aberdeenshire and South Lanarkshire; two areas of great wind resource, arable land and grid development. In total they add up to over a megawatt of renewable energy which will be constructed, connected to the National Grid and generating renewable electricity over the course of the next few months.

Good news for ourselves but more importantly good news for the farmers and landowners which we work with. The benefits of renewable energy should not be reaped solely by those landowners and developers able to develop large scale windfarms. The feed-in-tariff, as we are demonstrating, can be accessed by a much higher proportion of the population. People to which the revenue from a wind turbine, such as those consented last week, can be a game-changer  At a time when the UK’s agricultural sector is coming under increasing pressure from poor weather, higher costs and reduced governmental support the work companies such as ourselves are doing can make a real difference for farmers across the country.

Good news for communities across the country as well as money from every one of these turbines (as well as all of our other sites) will be used to support community groups, projects and charities in every one of the Local Authority Areas in which we are operating. At a time when funding for such vital work is being squeezed we are delighted to be able to make a contribution.

Good news too for both the UK and Scottish Governments. We are contributing to both parliaments meeting their renewable energy generation targets along with the rest of our industry. Over the past few years Renewable Energy has been one of the few industries in the UK able to create both growth and jobs

The benefits that renewable energy generation can bring to farmers across the country were promoted by the NFU (National Farmers Union) in the run up to their annual conference this week. Noting that British agricultural yields and productivity have dropped to levels not seen since the 1980s (largely attributed to last years poor weather) it was revealed that in 2012 an estimated one in five NFU members produced renewable electricity on their land. The NFU is encouraging more of it’s members to explore the opportunites available to them:

“2012 was a difficult year for the farming community, with bad weather hitting incomes hard. Investing in renewable energy provides farmers and growers with additional earnings at a time when farm budgets have become very stretched.” – Dr Jonathan Scurlock, NFU Chief Advisor for renewable energy and climate change.

Maria McCaffrey, Chief Executive of RenewableUK received the news enthusiastically:

“Farmers are experts at harnessing the Earth’s natural resources, so it’s no surprise that they are leading the way on wind energy. The UK has the most powerful wind resource in Europe and this has provided a vital source of income for farmers, helping to preserve rural communities in Britain.”

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

A good week for Wind Energy

A good week for Wind Energy

There was good news for the UK wind industry this week as a YouGov poll published in last weeks Sunday Times revealed that support for renewable energy remains extremely high with the British public.

The poll from the country’s most respected market research agency revealed particularly strong support for wind, wave and tidal power. For example when those sampled were asked which technologies they most supported for meeting Britain’s energy needs  18% of those asked backed wind power and a further 18% backed wave and tidal power. In comparison only 5% felt that further gas generation was the best solution and a meagre 2% backed an expansion of coal power generation. This is despite strong claims from some sections of the UK Government that a boom in unconventional gas could act as an economic stimulus for the country over the next decade.

Government support levels for renewable technologies have also been a contentious issue for some aspects of the British press with some outlets claiming that there is mass public opposition to schemes such as the Renewables Obligations and the Feed-in-Tariffs. However this YouGov poll reveals that 66% of those surveyed feel the government is entirely correct to subsidise renewable developments. Additionally 56% of people polled are strongly in favour of continued financial support for wind. These figures would seem to suggest that it is vested interests rather than the public who are unhappy with the expansion of renewable energy developments in the UK. Some press outlets have also maintained that people are particularly opposed to these developments happening in their own local area. Again these claims are not backed up the  polling figures: 64% of people would be in favour of a large scale onshore wind development in their area, 72% would support a large scale offshore wind development and 71% would be in favour of large scale development of wave and tidal resources. In comparison only between 4-13% of people would oppose such developments.

The publication of the poll was received enthusiastically by Jennifer Webber, Director of External Affairs for RenewableUK:

“Each time one of these national polls is published we see the same message – resounding support for wind, wave and tidal, continued acceptance of financial support for them and understanding of the benefits. Government needs to focus all its efforts on realising the low carbon future people are calling out for – 78% of people polled chose a low-carbon source of energy as their choice for the future. To achieve the investment needed to secure people’s overwhelming request for a low carbon future, we need to see a signal from Government beyond 2020. The 2030 target would be a great way to achieve this.

Additionally, this week, a document published by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) revealed that the UK now has the third highest wind energy capacity on the continent.  This is an improvement on 2011 when the UK was fifth behind France, Italy, Germany and Spain. 2012 has seen the UK leapfrog France and Italy now behind only the long established German and Spanish industries. In total the UK now has 8.4GW of installed wind capacity.

Maf Smith, Deputy Chief Executive of RenewableUK commented:

“The UK’s strong performance in the European league table reflects the growing importance of the British wind industry as a leading player. This proves the increasing significance of wind energy to the UK’s economy despite tough global economic conditions.

“The Government is calling for the UK to quadruple the amount of wind installed between now and 2020. The industry can achieve 31 gigawatts onshore and offshore by the end of the decade, but only with clear-cross party political support.

“We can attract billions of pounds worth of investment to the UK and create tens of thousands of jobs, but only if the signals from Westminster are right. The proof of this will be in the Energy Bill, which is due to become law by the end of the year. So the decisions taken by Government over the next few months are absolutely crucial for the UK’s wind industry.”

69% of all new European energy capacity came from renewable technologies underlining the consensus that exists in Europe about both the importance and potential of renewable energy.

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