Archive for June 2012
Agencies announce funding call for offshore wind projects
Scotland’s economic development agencies, Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, have joined forces to launch a series of research and development funding calls to attract projects with potential to drive down the cost of offshore renewable energy.
R&D funding has been made available through a range of existing support packages to support growth of the burgeoning offshore wind sector in Scotland
With a direct market value in excess of £7 billion and gross value add of over £17 billion, offshore wind is widely recognised as one of the biggest opportunities for sustained economic growth in Scotland for a generation.
A key priority for the sector is to innovate and commercialise new techniques and technologies that boast the potential to significantly cut the cost of production of renewable energy. The partners are inviting businesses of all sizes and academic institutes located within Scotland to bring forward project ideas that support effective and efficient operation and maintenance through remote condition monitoring and control systems for large scale next generation offshore wind turbines.
In particular, the agencies are looking to support projects in the following areas:
- Next generation condition monitoring and self-diagnosis systems that could help minimise turbine failure rates and reduce maintenance costs.
- Effective remote operating systems that provide full information and control of turbines to reduce the amount of work done on site at sea.
- As turbines increase in size, controller algorithms will have to become increasingly important to reduce fatigue loading as well as control the pitch of the turbine blades in to increase efficiency.
- On a larger scale coordinated supervisory control of wind turbines in a wind farm, building on process industry controls used in more mature industries could significantly improve the overall performance of large windfarms.
Further funding calls are planned over the next year seeking proposals around novel offshore operations and maintenance technologies and techniques, drive train design integration and alternative support structures and foundations for challenging environments.
Director of renewables at Scottish Enterprise, Andy McDonald, said: “Scotland has an incredible wealth of tranferable offshore engineering and technology expertise honed in the oil and gas sector. We are keen to work with Scottish companies and academia with the potential to deliver innovative solutions to some of the challenges our growing offshore wind sector faces.”
Interested companies and academic institutes should submit an online enquiry at www.scottish-enterprise.com/offshorewindfundingcall.
The closing date for expressions of interest under this call is 29 June 2012 with further calls expected over the course of the next year.
Caithness windfarm consent refused – impact on residents too high
Energy Minister Fergus Ewing has today refused planning consent for a proposed wind farm at Spittal Hill, Caithness.
The Energy Minister found that the impact of the proposed wind farm on the occupants of nearby properties was too high, and that the cumulative impact of the wind farm on views when considered together with existing and consented wind farms nearby, was too high.
The application was for a 77.5MW, 30 turbine wind farm on a hill 1.2km north east of Spittal Village, Caithness and was submitted by Spittal Hill Windfarm Limited.
The local planning authority, the Highland Council, objected to the application and so a public local inquiry was held in May 2011, and following that inquiry an independent reporter appointed by Scottish Ministers recommended that consent should be refused.
Energy Minster Fergus Ewing said:
“Scotland has enormous potential for renewable energy that is delivering jobs and investment across Scotland, and I am determined to ensure communities all over Scotland reap the benefit from renewable energy – but not at any cost and we will ensure a balanced approach in taking forward this policy, as we have in the past and will in future.
“The Scottish Government wants to see the right developments in the right places and Scottish planning policy is clear that the design and location of any wind farm should reflect the scale and character of the landscape and should be considered environmentally acceptable.
“The impact of this proposed wind farm on the landscape, and the impact it would have on the homes of those who live closest to it, is too great.”
This is the first time the Scottish government has rejected plans for an onshore wind farm in four years.
Scottish Enterprise director of energy and low carbon technologies, Adrian Gillespie, welcomes two new reports published today (13 June) by the industry-led Offshore Wind Cost Reduction Task Force and The Crown Estate which shows the UK is on course to reduce the cost of generating electricity and details of how the reductions can be achieved. He said “The importance of reducing the cost of electricity generated by offshore wind is imperative and an issue we have been working on with the renewables and oil & gas industries. We are pleased to feed this learning into the work of the Task Force and I welcome the publication of the findings.
“Scotland’s offshore wind sector has huge economic potential and projects such as our £35 million POWERS fund to support the development of prototype turbines, targeted ‘calls’ for R&D and commercialisation support and wider partnership initiatives including the International Technology and Renewable Energy Zone, the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult and the Scottish Energy Lab all contribute to helping reduce the costs of Scotland’s offshore wind sector and support our ambitions of helping it to reach its full potential whilst contributing to the Scottish Governments ambitious renewable energy targets.”
A copy of the full press release can be viewed here.
Offshore wind will more than pay for itself in future
A CEBR report commissioned by Mainstream Renewable Power, a multinational comnpany with an office in Glasgow, reveals that Offshore Wind will more than pay for itself in future and reap rich rewards in terms of jobs and UK GDP. The report is entitled The macroeconomic benefits of investment in offshore wind
The Cebr report finds:
- Offshore wind sector to boost UK GDP by 0.2% by 2015 and by 0.4% by 2020.
- Potential for UK Offshore wind sector to create 45,000 jobs by 2015, over 97,000 jobs by 2020 and 173,000 jobs by 2030.
- By 2030 with a £18.8 billion boost in net exports offshore wind could plug 75% of the UK’s current balance of trade deficit”.
(Dublin 12 June 2012) – Mainstream Renewable Power, the global renewable energy company, today announces the publication by London’s Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) of a major new report into the economic impact of the UK’s offshore wind sector out to 2030. The Report has been published to coincide with the first ever Global Offshore Wind conference being held in London.
Two years ago, the Offshore Valuation Group measured the value of the UK’s offshore renewable energy resource and concluded that, by 2050 – by harnessing less than a third of that resource – the UK could generate the electricity equivalent of 1bn barrels of oil a year, reduce its CO2 emissions by 1bn tonnes and create over 145,000 new jobs.
This new June 2012 Cebr/MRP report builds on that work by exploring the impact of planned investment in offshore wind electricity generating capacity in the UK. It concludes that that investment can be expected:
- By 2015 to increase UK GDP by 0.2%, and create over 45,000 full time jobs, delivering employment and economic growth at a time of economic fragility.
- By 2020, to double that GDP contribution to 0.4%, and the number of people employed to over 97,000.
- By 2030 to triple that GDP contribution to 0.6%, and sustain 173,000 jobs. These benefits will accrue from pursuing current build out rates of offshore wind. A more aggressive, but achievable, approach could see an annual 1% uplift to GDP, and the creation of up to 215,000 jobs, and in addition, the sector could deliver an increase in net exports of £22.5bn, sufficient to almost entirely plug the UK’s current balance of trade deficit.
Furthermore, a foreign trade multiplier (FTM) analysis of the impact of increasing levels of offshore wind investments and exports leads Cebr to contend that significant multiplier impacts can be expected to derive from investment in offshore wind.
For instance, while Cebr predicts that by 2020, under its Accelerated Growth scenario, investment in offshore wind will generate £8.4 billion of Gross Value Add (GVA) to the UK economy, the application of their FTM model suggests that this contribution could rise to £10.5 billion.
These differences are even more marked by 2030, when the estimated difference in impact – between that suggested by the domestic and FTM multipliers – is (for employment) three times the difference estimated for 2020.
Commenting, Eddie O’Connor, CEO of Mainstream Renewable Power said “The “Value of Offshore Wind” to the UK is truly significant. Cebr shows that the net economic benefit to UK plc from investment in offshore wind is considerable. The foreign trade multiplier effect is of particular interest to a sector which has the potential to supply a global market. By helping the UK reduce fossil fuel imports, and by creating a new industry, offshore wind will create jobs, assist in balancing the trade deficit and boost GDP at a time of economic uncertainty.
“Later this year we will publish a companion paper which will show that offshore wind is a very attractive investment to include in a diversified, low carbon generation resource portfolio. Including a substantial amount of offshore wind will help in the achievement of the government’s long-term goals to decarbonise the UK’s electricity sector by lowering risk and cost to UK consumers.
“We have embarked on a once off transition to a sustainable economy. All forms of renewable energy, from solar energy to tidal energy, will contribute to delivering this transition in the UK. But offshore wind provides this country with a clear global comparative advantage, particularly when the UK government and industry will this week publish their strategy to reduce the cost of offshore wind to £100/MWh by 2020. Cebr’s findings underline the importance of that strategy, and the very significant potential economic benefit that this sector will deliver to the UK.”
Oliver Hogan, Head of Microeconomics at Cebr and principal author of the report said: “The current economic circumstances and the competitive challenges facing the UK highlight the importance of taking actions to improve the country’s trade balance. Such actions, by acting directly on the factor that is constraining growth, can be expected to have particularly important foreign trade multiplier impacts.
“It is Cebr’s contention that, given the positive impacts on the UK’s balance of trade outlined in our report, these significant multiplier impacts can be expected to derive from investment in offshore wind.”
I’m starting to get really worried about the wind industry. I think it’s an important industry, for several reasons:
- It brings jobs to Scotland, even in a time of recession,
- It allows for our dependence on imports for electricity supply to be reduced,
- It reduces the carbon intensity of our energy,
- It serves as a point of learning on the road to making real use of our renewable resources: solar, wave and tidal, and whatever new technology comes after.
What worries me is that the debate on wind energy, from the pro-wind side, is totally dominated by three voices: the economists/business leaders, the politicians and the green activists.
The way I see the world, politicians are there to tell us if something should be done; economists tell us if people will pay for it; and activists are there to lobby for a pre-existing set of ideas. When it comes to “can something be achieved”, that’s where you need the geeks: specifically the scientists and the engineers. And the scientists and engineers are very, very quiet on the issue of wind power.
Part of the reason for this is that wind energy for large-scale electricity is still very much in its infancy. Ten years ago, the procedure for installing a wind farm was completely unrecognisable compared to what happens today: masts were smaller, turbines were smaller and closer together, and the softer requirements like bird surveys and protection for peat lands weren’t as well established. Ten years in a career is a long time; but it’s hardly any time at all when you look at how quickly the onshore wind industry has grown. (Offshore wind has barely begun its journey yet, so I’m not talking about that.)
Within that huge rate of growth, large companies have grown from small groups of tinkering engineers, and somehow the managers, the politicians and the economists have become the dominant voices. And they say: protect our IP, don’t say anything which will bring the industry into disrepute, keep to the party line. It’s scientists who say, share data, do best practice and let people see it’s being done. But somehow the scientists and the engineers aren’t making the decisions in this industry. And where they’ve risen to the top, they seem to do so by falling in line with the industry position. Don’t question, don’t talk about any issues, don’t ever suggest there’s anything wrong. And so they become the business leaders, the economists, the politicians.
One result of this is that an industry which employs hundreds, perhaps thousands of highly-qualified engineers, and a fair few scientists too, doesn’t seem to have the geeks on their side.
I’m talking about this blog. The author of the blog is Colin R McInnes, a professor of engineering at the University of Strathclyde. As a citizen, he’s been writing to newspapers fairly often lately. His letters tend to be good engineering, as you’d expect, but they tend to come down on the anti-wind side.
He’s not correct. But, and this is important: IT IS NOT HIS FAULT THAT HE’S WRONG.
He’s an engineer. More than that, this guy researches into solar sails for a living. If you asked him about whether solar sails were worth investing public money in, presumably he’d say yes. This is frontier research: it can’t fund itself without huge subsidies. Yet this same man is essentially arguing that if offshore wind farms, a very new attempt at large-scale deployment of technology to an extremely challenging environment, can’t fund themselves commercially then they should be scrapped. So what’s the difference?
He doesn’t know that we’re here. The scientists and engineers who are tasked with building wind farms and actually making them work. He’s not in the industry, doesn’t go to conferences or meetings. He’s only engaging with the public discourse. Which is, as I stated earlier, dominated by politics, activists and the party line. He is operating in a complete vacuum of technically-literate information on wind farms.
We need to start talking in a language that the technical people can understand. That means demonstrating good practice and actually letting the numbers out there. How much are wind farms generating? Why are they being installed where they are? What are the measured capacity factors? How do we determine the layouts? What actions do we take to mitigate public concerns? How do we re-power or decommission a wind farm at the end of its life? Are we held to account if we breach our planning?
I don’t know if I can make this happen. This blog is a start, I suppose. Perhaps you can. The time for secrecy is ending; if anything I’m very concerned that we’re already too late. What might have been good for an individual company is threatening to doom an entire industry. And that industry matters.
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 31/05/2012.