Archive for February 2012
FRESH 2012 – March 9th and 10th 2012
FRESH is the annual renewable energy show of Fintry Development Trust, a development trust based in the village of Fintry, Stirlingshire.
The trust broadly has the aim of reducing energy use in the village – ultimately, making the village a zero-carbon, zero-waste community. It has over 150 members (out of an adult population of approximately 500).
FRESH 2012 takes place over March 9-10 in and around the village of Fintry. The event runs from 10am to 4pm both days.
As well as talks, the festival includes demonstrations of micro-renewable power technologies, visits to domestic installations, a local food and crafts market, kids’ activities, visits to the woodland classroom, trips around the local Earlsburn wind farm, and much more. Programme below:
Friday 9th March
10:00-1:00 Morning Talks
Registration from 10:00am in Menzies Hall Foyer
10:15-10:55 Al Gore Climate Reality Talk (Evan Williams)
10:55-11:20 ResPublica (think tank–Community Energy Talk)
11:35-12:00 Tom Black (PEDAL urban turbine project, et al)
12:00-12:30 Geoff Williams (emerging technologies)
12:30-2:30pm Lunchtime Activities
- Open Doors Visits
- Exhibition time
- Opportunity for lunch
- Free networking time
2:30-4:00pm Moving Conversations Debate
(theme: Power to the People: the Citizen and Energy Independence)
Panellists: Maitland Mackie, Andy Wightman, Pam Warhust (FC England and Wales and Incredible Edible Todmorden), Max Carcas (Pelamis Wave technology)
Chair: Louise Batchelor
6:00pm Pub Quiz
FDT Sponsored Pub Quiz at Fintry Inn
-Fintry film, Wind of Change, shown throughout day in reception
-Exhibition Area featuring: Community Energy Scotland, EcoLiving, Lomond Energy, Scaled Energy (Medium Wind), Scottish Stove Centre, Development Trust Association Scotland, CarPlus and FEET car club), Forth Environment Link.
Saturday 10th March
10-12:30 – Local Food/Produce/Craft Market-Menzies Hall
30 producers of food/craft/etc. from surrounding region
1:30-4:00pm – Talks on domestic renewables and open houses to demonstrate hosted by Skabara, Howell, Frazer households – Menzies Hall
11am and 2pm – Trips to Earlsburn Wind Farm via mini-bus
11am and 2pm – Ecology Centre (Ronnie Mackie) shows at Primary School
12:30 and throughout
-Elspeth English from Hands On Environmental Education
-John Hancox to show Orchard Skills in Fintry PS Orchard
Throughout day at Primary School:
-will be showing their work and woodland, demonstrating off new skills in bush craft, etc.) Children will demonstrate Bushman Skills, Clayman Storytelling, Den Building, Eco-Committee timeline display and pupils artwork for FRESh
-Activities throughout day by Elspeth English from Hands On Environmental Education
-Fintry film shown throughout day in reception (Menzies Hall)
-Exhibition Area featuring: Community Energy Scotland, EcoLiving, Lomond Energy, Scaled Energy (Medium Wind), Scottish Stove Centre, Development Trust Association Scotland, CarPlus and FEET car club), Forth Environment Link
Company says the majority of these jobs will be in Scotland
After the downbeat announcement from SSE regarding perceived increased investment risk associated with the independence debate and the depressing anti-wind Tory backlash, the announcement today by Scottish Power of the imminent creation of 300 new jobs has come as a breath of fresh air to the Scottish renewables industry.
ScottishPower expects to invest over £5bn to upgrade the electricity network in central and southern Scotland over the next 10 years, and is launching a recruitment drive to boost its engineering and technical workforce by creating 300 new roles. It is anticipated there will be around 50 new apprenticeships created and the graduate programme will look to take in at least 50 new graduates by 2013. ScottishPower Chairman Ignacio Galán made the announcement today at the company’s training headquarters in Cumbernauld with First Minister Alex Salmond.
ScottishPower needs the new generation of engineers to deliver the most important upgrades to the electricity network in over half a century, but at the same time the energy industry is facing an impending skills gap. To address this skills gap , ScottishPower is also investing £6.5 million in grassroots skills development between 2011 and 2013. This investment will range from developing pre-apprentice schools programmes, to establishing technical partnerships with colleges and universities, all the way through to the sponsorship of specialist post graduate scholarships.
Ignacio Galán, Chairman of ScottishPower, said: “The move to the low carbon economy, from modern and efficient electricity networks to new renewable energy generation will be a catalyst for economic growth and job creation. Overall, we are projecting investments totaling £12 billion in the UK over the course of this decade and it is vital we do all that we can to encourage people to develop the skills required to take advantage of these investments.
“We are announcing 300 skilled jobs today, in an industry where workers will have lifelong development opportunities. Our aim is to ensure that school children and those at college and university see this kind of skilled employment as an attractive option. Engineers are retiring every day and we want to see the next generation of workers knocking on our door to fill their places.
“We were encouraged that the Scottish Government recently announced their desire to deliver 25,000 modern apprenticeships each year as part of their Youth Employment Strategy. This will certainly be part of the solution to help an industry like ours bridge its skills gap.”
First Minister Alex Salmond said: “Three hundred new high-skilled jobs for Scotland’s energy sector is very encouraging news indeed. Scottish Power’s £6.5 million commitment is further proof of the continued long term investment by global companies in Scotland’s fast growing renewables industry.
“Scotland’s energy sector has the potential to reindustrialise this country and provide work for tens of thousands of Scots in the years to come. This kind of investment in training is critical to create the new generation of skilled workers to power our low carbon future – and it’s something that is also a top priority for the Scottish Government.
Frank Mitchell, CEO of ScottishPower Energy Networks, said: “The search starts today. We need 300 power engineers of all levels and experience to begin working on some of our major projects that will completely modernise the electricity grid in Scotland. In order to fill these positions we will also be seeking to hire workers from other industries, including the offshore sector and the armed forces and offering to retrain them.
“In the longer term, we will need many more workers to join our industry straight from school or university. As well as investing more than £6m on grassroots skills development, we will be working closely with the Government and with educational establishments in the coming years to encourage the development of more engineers.”
By a Newsnet reporter
In a survey carried out by the Guardian newspaper, leading renewable energy companies have revealed that fears over the commitment of the UK government to renewable energy development have led them to put billions of pounds worth of investment on hold.
Representatives of the companies say that they are either reviewing their UK investment plans, or seeking clarification from UK energy ministers on future energy policy.
However the sole bright spot in the Guardian’s survey came from Scotland, where renewable energy companies feel more confident about the support and commitment of the Scottish government. Scottish Power plans to invest almost £1 billion in renewable energy development projects. Almost all of this money will be invested in Scotland.
The fears causing renewable energy companies to rethink their plans of investing in the UK derive from the large and vocal group of Conservative MPs who are pressing the Coalition government to withdraw subsidies on wind-power generation and to tighten up the planning process to make development of wind farms more difficult. At the end of January, a group of 100 Conservative MPs signed a letter in the Telegraph newspaper calling on the UK government to slash the subsidy for on-shore wind farms.
While in opposition, David Cameron affected a pro-green stance in order to woo environmentally concerned voters. In an infamous publicity opportunity in 2006, the future PM’s office let press photographers know he’d be cycling to work in order to save energy. However behind him followed his ministerial car containing his briefcase.
Alongside the increasingly vocal demands from the Conservative back benches, the UK government has also recently been back-pedalling on the promise made by the Conservative leader prior to the 2010 general election to be the “greenest government ever” by downplaying the importance of targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels and to increase the proportion of energy generated by renewables.
Some analysts and Westminster watchers, such as Guardian political correspondent Juliet Jowit, argue that the Coalition government is preparing the ground for an energy policy shift away from renewables in favour of increased investment in nuclear and gas. Nuclear power receives a higher subsidy than that received by wind generation.
The uncertainties created by Westminster policy shifts are damaging investment in the industry. Both Longannet and Peterhead Carbon Storage projects were shelved after successive Labour and Tory Governments effectively blocked the plans.
Speaking to the Guardian, the managing director of General Electric, Magued Eldaief, said that a planned £100m investment was “on hold” until UK ministers clarify future referms to the renewable energy market. He decribed the anti-wind energy statement of the Conservative MPs as a “concern”, saying: “It’s something we’re watching very closely. We would like clarity and we would like it as quickly as possible.”
Me Eldaief said: “Our investment is on hold until we have certainty and clarity regarding the policy environment that we are in. One of the most important things for us is political certainty, so we can justify the business and investment case for a facility in the UK. But we think there are some headwinds which do not help, especially in terms of the subsidies discussion.”
Even with the Scottish government’s pro-renewable stance, which recently angered Donald Trump, the full development of Scotland’s renewable energy potential depends upon financial and economic powers which are reserved to the Westminster government. The damage to investment in this sector, which is vital to the success of the Scottish economy, will lend weight to the argument that the Union does not operate in Scottish interests.
Reproduced with permission from an original article by newsnetscotland
Oilprice.com’s Daniel J. Graeber on wave power in Scotland
While most major economies agree that some form of alternative and renewable resources are needed as part of the emerging energy mix, embracing frontier areas like wave arrays might be more about changing the way decision-makers think about energy than simply about the saving the environment. That’s how Richard Yemm, founder of Scottish company Pelamis Wave Power, sees it anyhow. He says efforts underway in Europe aren’t just about protecting the environment, they’re about new ways to provide energy that make economic sense. He’s not, after all, just talking about climate change when he talks about going green.
“The second industrial revolution is well under way in the U.K. and Europe, one which is based on green energy and technology,” says Yemm, “and Scotland, which aims to decarbonize its economy, is leading the way in frontier energy developments.”
The first industrial revolution was driven by carbon-based energy resources and helped define today’s economy, he explained. The second revolution is driven by green technologies. This sector is already big business in Europe and, if First Minister Alex Salmond gets his way, it will help an independent Scotland stand alone in the region.
On the west coast of Scotland, powerful ocean swells roll into shore year round. Because of this, Yemm claims there’s enough wave energy to power 100 homes with every step you take along the beach.
“The ocean is like a gigantic battery,” he says, “continually being charged by the wind.”
Wave power is more reliable and predictable than wind or solar because it’s less dependent on the local weather conditions. The waves are always rolling, said Yemm.
Scotland and the rest of the European community understand the risks and opportunities presented by frontier renewable energy technologies like wave power. Several energy companies are already testing his company’s Pelamis wave-energy converters and there could be enough of them in the water to generate as much as 200 megawatts of electricity from the waters of Scotland’s west coast by the end of the decade. That’s not much, says Yemm, but it’s a good start for a new energy source that’s expected to bring in significant revenue for all players involved, including those outside Europe.
So why is Scotland the model rather than the norm? Yemm says it’s a matter of making alternative energy something more than just an environmental issue. It needs to be something that’s on equal footing with the rest of the energy sector. The wind, the sun’s rays and waves are just as much a source of energy as oil and natural gas, Yemm explains. It took hundreds of years of technological development to make oil and natural gas inexpensive, though the IEA said the age of cheap conventional energy is likely over.
For most of the rest of the world, the climate change and alternative energy debate isn’t at the top of the agenda, however. The United States and Canada, two oil-rich countries in their own right, backed out of the Kyoto Protocol saying, for all intents and purposes, it was an ineffective environmental treaty. But major economies like the United States can push ahead with alternative energy if they decide to put their money where their mouth is in the green energy debate, says Yemm. It just requires a paradigm shift in the way countries look at their available natural resources. It’s not, he says, just about environmental stewardship. It’s about making a buck along the way too.
“Europe has set targets to decarbonize its economy in a fraction of the time it has taken to create the carbon-based economy,” he said. “However, contrary to the common view, it is not looking on this as a noble duty or an unavoidable burden, but as an economic opportunity on a grander scale than the first industrial revolution that created the requirement for it.”
Original article by Daniel J. Graeber, senior analyst with Oilprice.com, reproduced by kind permission
If I ask you what colour the sky was, you’d say blue. If I asked what colour it was right now where you are, the only way for you to answer correctly would be to go and look. That’s science: the go and look bit. Science is where we try and get past the rote answer and use evidence to understand what’s going on.
There have always been people who don’t like the go-and-look philosophy. Most of the time they’re the same people who would prefer we all take on the listen-to-them philosophy. It rankles with a certain type of person that they can’t just say anything they like without being fact-checked. It used to be religious authority who were most guilty of this; now it seems to be marketers & PR people working for rich corporations, billionaires and politicians. Or at least so the documents about the Heartland Institute released this week would lead us to conclude. (I’ll not go through this, you can read more about it here if you’re interested.
I don’t like this war. To me, if you want to know what colour the sky is, you go and look. If you can’t do that, you use the scientific method to find the most probable answer. You don’t ask yourself, what is the most beneficial answer? And then shout out to everyone who’ll listen that the sky is in fact black-and-white-stripes, punching anyone who disagrees with you in the mouth. The trouble is that in human affairs, what matters most isn’t what you can prove, it’s what you can get people to believe. And the anti-climate-change lobby have been very, very effective at getting the public to accept the idea that there’s any scientific controversy. There isn’t. Human action is causing the climate to change. (The graph in that last link is particularly compelling.)
Over and over again, I encounter the idea that renewables are only being developed for the subsidies; like there are fat cats putting up useless wind farms and then laughing at us all the way to the bank. I’ve seen no evidence for this. Firstly the subsidies are generally paid out alongside the electricity being generated, so that if you build a wind farm in a bad location or if you don’t maintain it you get far less in terms of subsidies. Secondly the expense of building the project and the risk of failure all fall on the developer, and many wind farms do fail at various points after significant time and money has been invested in them; not really something that encourages risky development and then running off with the cash. Thirdly, the renewables lobby, like the climate change lobby, are nowhere near as effective as their various counterparts. And fourthly, electricity prices are driven by gas prices. Renewables aren’t driving profits or costs to any large extent, and a lot of their profits goes back into the next development. Profits which are being invested in infrastructure aren’t lining fat cat pockets.
If there are powerful people with lots of spare money about, they’re not coming from the renewables industry. They’re more likely to be coming from the oil and gas sector. Those are the people who don’t want us to invest in renewable energy which doesn’t require a constant fuel source. Those are the people with both the motivation and the money to actually get their voice heard. And the evidence seems to suggest that they’re using that voice: they’re using it to lie to you.
The worst thing about it is that if we don’t know the facts we make poor decisions. We all want our grandchildren to live on a planet that’s at least as good as the one we have. No-one wants the luxury of a private jet if the direct cost is watching their grandchildren starve in a climate-change induced drought. If we change things now, we can do it slowly, keep the level of technology we have. If we don’t…
Well, the way I see it, if we don’t reduce our reliance on oil and gas we face much bigger problems than just climate change. We face the increasing instability of the Middle East, and hugely fluctuating prices. We face increasingly desperate technologies (like fracking) used in increasingly unsuitable environments. We face dwindling global supplies and perhaps even wars over what remains (the question of who owns North Sea oil if Scotland gains independence will seem tame in comparison). On a human level there could be a global crisis of a level not seen since the second world war. And on top of that we could have hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts and monsoons, rising sea levels and dwindling water supplies.
Unless we work to avert it. Now. Little by little.
‘Turbinetastic’ is a wind industry professional who has kindly agreed to syndicate their posts to this blog. This post was originally published on turbinetastic’s own blog on 22/02/2012.