Archive for May 2012
Free courses in renewable energy in Edinburgh
The European Energy Centre (EEC) is holding free courses in renewable energy at Edinburgh Napier University. To be eligible for funding participants must attend a minimum of 3 courses as it is our aim to create experts in renewable energy.
The Galileo Project was created to help the growth of the renewable energy sector in the UK and Europe. The project provides funding for individuals to learn the broad range of skills required to develop a successful career within the renewables sector.
The European funding provided by the Galileo Project provides a full fee waiver for successful applicants, allowing them to undertake for free, pathway courses which would otherwise cost up to £800.
Details of the courses which will receive funding can be found at http://www.euenergycentre.org/training/subsidised-free-training-in-renewable-energy.
The Hydrogen Office exhibited at the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation Low Carbon Enterprise & Innovation Showcase earlier this year. In this video David Hogg of the Hydrogen Office talks about exhibiting at the ECCI Showcase and how the organisation will contribute to creating a low carbon economy.
Smart Grid strategy outlines path to low carbon economy
A key industry strategy to capitalise on Scotland’s smart grid expertise and create thousands of new jobs in Scotland is published today.
The strategy includes a target to create up to 12,000 new jobs by 2020, by supporting work to secure Scotland’s place as an exemplar in smart grid adoption and as a leading international provider of Smart Grid technologies and know-how.
Smart grids are digitally-enabled grids that can accommodate the changing patterns of demand and generation of electricity. They facilitate the integration of renewables, allowing the network to be balanced more easily and efficiently, and bring considerable benefits to the consumer such as more reliable, sustainable and cost-efficient electricity.
First Minister, Alex Salmond launched the Smart Grid Sector Strategy at the All Energy conference in Aberdeen today (23 May 2012).
He said: “Scotland is playing an important role in the emerging global low carbon economy, including pursuing a target to ensure renewable energy generates at least 100% of Scotland’s electricity demand by 2020. The development of smart grid technologies and services will be an important part of this green energy drive – and an important opportunity for Scottish businesses and research institutions. The target to create as many as 12,000 jobs in the Smart grid sector is a very ambitious one, which will require continued close working between government, industry and academia. It is also a signal of intent and a measure of the determination, skill and vision which exists across Scotland’s leading-edge low carbon industry.”
The Strategy identifies six areas for action: encouraging innovation; maximising the impact of pilot and demonstrator projects in Scotland; empowering consumers by increasing awareness of how to manage energy consumption; developing the supply chain in Scotland to seize opportunities; identifying skills requirements; and improving dialogue and engagement across the sector and with related sectors.
The 2020 UK market for customer energy management products and services has been estimated at £1.5 billion. An indicative value for the 2020 UK network automation and optimisation market is £1 billion. Scotland is well-positioned to capture a significant share of these market segments.
Scotland already has world-class research in smart grids and related technologies, and a strong reputation for skills in engineering, communications and information technology. Scotland’s test and demonstration facilities are second to none, for example the Power Networks Demonstration Centre in Cumbernauld, which offers researchers and companies the opportunity to test innovative distribution network technologies in a realistic test environment; the Hydrogen Office in Fife, a demonstration centre for energy storage using hydrogen fuel cells; and the Electrical Power System Protection Laboratory, part of the University of Strathclyde, which allows testing and modelling of protection systems for power systems and testing of intelligent network management and control methods for future smart grid and microgrid applications.
Scottish Enterprise chief executive, Lena Wilson, said: “Today marks a significant milestone in our journey towards a low carbon economy. Progress has already been achieved in the development of smart grid solutions, through initiatives such as the Power Network Demonstration Centre, and this new strategy provides a clear focus for the public and private sectors to work together and maximise the opportunities in our efforts to become world leaders in smart grids.
“We are an innovative country with a strong company base and entrepreneurial spirit. Initially around 150 Scottish companies have been identified as having a potential role to play in smart grids, and we will work closely with them as they investigate the opportunities to diversify and seize new market opportunities ahead of the competition.”
Led by an industry Working Group comprising SSE, Scottish Power, GE Energy, Cisco, University of Strathclyde and Scottish Enterprise the strategy was developed in consultation with Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Development International and Consumer Focus Scotland.
Professor Jim McDonald, Principal of the University of Strathclyde and co-chair of the Scottish Energy Advisory Board commented on behalf of the industry Working Group: “The Smart Grid Sector Strategy represents an important step forward in capturing Scotland’s industry opportunities in one of the largest power engineering infrastructure developments in the 21st Century. In this country we benefit from having world-leading university research capability in key, Smart Grid relevant themes including electrical systems, power engineering and informatics.
“The education and training of the skilled workforce necessary to grow this industry is essential and Scotland’s colleges and universities have never been better placed to address such a strategic requirement and job creation opportunity.”
Commenting on the positive effects Smart Grid solutions will have on the consumer, Trisha McAuley, deputy director at Consumer Focus Scotland added: “It is absolutely critical that plans for new technology, such as smart meters, work in the interest of hard-pressed households and businesses struggling with high fuel costs. A key pillar of this strategy focuses on engaging with consumers – this is good news and is needed to build consumers’ trust in new low carbon technologies that have real potential to help them drive down their energy costs.”
A number of pilot projects which capitalise on Scotland’s diverse geography are currently in development. These include Clyde Gateway, which is developing an intelligent network to service a new business park as part of the Sustainable Glasgow Initiative, a cross-sector partnership involving a wide range of public and private sector partners which aims to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions whilst maximising the opportunity for Glasgow to develop low-carbon energy technologies, efficient homes, provide affordable heat and create sustainable communities.
The Shetland NINES project will manage the distribution network more effectively through a range of measures such as installing smart storage heaters in 1,000 homes to help balance the network, using new network technologies to enable more small-scale renewable generation and encouraging companies to change their peak use times through the installation of a 1MW battery.
The Smart Grid Working Group is now focussing its efforts in developing a clear, deliverable action plan. For further information visit www.scottish-enterprise.com/smartgrid .
“The Geek Manifesto” is a book by Mark Henderson which has been making quite a splash with a few science-minded people I know: I think I’ve had it recommended to me about four times by different people. So I bought it for my kindle and I’m now about half way through.
Because I’ve been following a lot of science people on twitter for a while, a lot of the issues raised by the book aren’t new to me. I followed the sacking of David Nutt for commenting on his scientific findings on drugs, I followed the libel reform case between Simon Singh and the BCA, and I also saw the birth of the Science is Vital campaign as a response to the 2010 Spending Review. These issues, and other similar ones are covered in the manifesto. I’m sure there’ll be others as I work my way through the book.
As a scientist, these issues do matter to me. I want decisions to be based on evidence, and I want politicians to try to compile high-quality evidence where it’s needed. It is true that it is easier in general to find examples of policy-driven evidence than evidence-driven policy; for instance, the War in Iraq was not justified by the evidence available at the time.
If there was evidence to show that wind farms don’t work — that they don’t produce power that can be used, that they fail to reduce CO2 emissions, or that they are ultimately more polluting than they save — I would want to know about it. I would want to say to my colleagues, look, it’s not working, let’s find another way, some other technology. I don’t want to bet my career on something that doesn’t work.
Of course, wind power may not be the best long-term solution to all our energy needs. That’s different, and fine by me. I’m not trying to build a panacea for all humanity’s ills, I just want to change the world a little bit to be a better world.
The truth is that the evidence /doesn’t/ say that. Wind farms produce more electricity than they use and they save enough in carbon to balance their construction costs in only a few months of their 20-year lifetime (also see here.
I wonder if part of the reason that the wind industry has failed to engage with its detractors is that most of our talking comes from the CEOs and lobbyists that are a crucial part of our industry, but who aren’t actually scientists or trained in assessing evidence objectively. That’s one reason why I set up this blog; I wanted someone to be presenting the balanced viewpoint that the energy debate demands.
Scientists are good at that, and we need to be here; we need to be heard.
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 17/05/2012.
Another turbophobic myth dispelled
When I started this blog fifteen months ago I had no intention of championing Big Wind, an entity very likely to be every bit as self-seeking and environmentally slapdash as Big Oil or Big Nuclear. However, I do feel compelled to devote a few electrons every now and then to refuting some of the more ridiculous arguments deployed against wind turbines by those who seek to couch their narrow and temporary self-interest in terms of the greater good.
When not fantasising about ‘bird mincers’ turbophobes may resort to the fanciful argument that wind turbines will become permanent eyesores when their working life is over. ‘We are saving the countryside for our children’ they say. They will triumphantly post pictures they have googled up of a handful of rusting turbines on Hawaii, proclaiming that this is the legacy we are leaving for future generations.
Of course, like most anti-wind rhetoric this argument does not bear close examination. Decomissioning arrangements are built into every planning approval , as they are with other large developments. Usually windfarm developers are required to put in place a bond to cover the cost of decommissioning in the event of the owner going bust. The actual dismantling of the towers is not technically challenging, and of course the metal can be recycled. Access roads may take some time to grow over, but not as long as slag heaps, mine tailings or quarries.
The blades of a typical 2-megawatt turbine weight 42 tonnes. So if we take a 500MW windfarm that means that at the end of (say) 20 years we will have 10,500 tonnes of difficult to recycle but inert and harmless material. This represents 1050 tonnes per year. I find this slightly less alarming than, eg, the waste created by a typical 500-megawatt coal plant, which includes more than 125,000 tons of ash and 193,000 tons of sludge from the smokestack scrubber each year.
I don’t think wind is an ideal technology, but it is the only affordable low-carbon electricity generation technology that is currently deployable at scale. And of all the arguments stacked up against it this one – ‘We are preserving the landscape for future generations’ - is the one that rings most hollow. In twenty or thirty years I belive our children and grandchildren are more likely to bemoan our lack of appetite to tackle climate change than they are the existence of a few thousand metal towers and plastic blades that are no longer needed.