Scotland bangs drum for islands

Wheelhouse: UK should recognise 'vital importance' of renewables

Scotland bangs drum for islands image

The Scottish government has called on Westminster to “recognise the vital importance of island renewables to the UK energy market”.

Holyrood Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse and BEIS Secretary Greg Clark will today co-chair the fifth meeting of the Scottish Islands Renewables Delivery Forum in Stornoway.

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Discussions are focused on consultation which Scottish ministers said “back-tracked on support for wind projects on the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland”.

“The development of proposed major projects alone would trigger initial investment of £2.5bn,” said Holyrood.

Wheelhouse added: "The planned projects on the Western and Shetland Isles would face extremely high locational transmission charges to provide electricity to the mainland.

"That is why an appropriate support mechanism is so important to help unlock very significant capital investment from the private sector and community-owned developers as well as, in turn, underpinning the investment case to National Grid for vital islands grid connections.”

The UK government carried out consultation on potential Contract for Difference supports for so called remote islands wind earlier this year.

The stated preference is that it will not be included in future CfD rounds and a final decision is due this spring.

Image: Mi9


Tonik, Powervault to trial new smart energy storage tariff model in UK

Published 10 April 2017

Tonik Energy and Powervault announced a collaboration to assess the potential for a revolutionary new smart tariff model that could bring batteries into the mainstream in UK homes and significantly reduce bills.

The collaboration will see Powervault’s domestic storage units trialled with Tonik Energy customers who have smart meters as the duo evaluate the use of energy storage in conjunction with a smart tariff.

Through technology and data, Tonik Energy’s overarching ambition is to halve customers’ bills by 2022. This trial in collaboration with Powervault marks an important step towards this goal.

Their joint aim is to provide proof of concept for the UK’s first storage tariff that will enable householders to benefit from the ability to store energy drawn down at off-peak times.

Joe Warren, Managing Director, Powervault, says: “We exist to make a smarter way of life possible, by rethinking the way electricity is generated and consumed. Historically, domestic energy storage has been associated primarily with the 900,000 UK homes equipped with solar panels, but a much larger market is starting to emerge, enabled by the smart meter rollout.”

The government aims to have smart meters universally installed in UK homes by 2020, providing a gateway to intelligent tariffs via in-home battery storage units that will drastically reduce the homeowner's bills.

By automatically charging when demand is low and electricity is cheap – at night, for example – and discharging during peak times, Powervault could cut the homeowner’s electricity bills by up to 35%.

This collaboration highlights the opportunity for energy suppliers and domestic energy storage companies to work together to put the benefits of battery storage directly into the hands of the consumer.

Tonik Energy and Powervault’s joint ambition turns the old energy supply model on its head by encouraging customers to use cheaper electricity, and in turn, pay less. This ambition is aligned with both companies’ desire to lead innovation in the energy sector.

Chris Russell, Managing Director, Tonik Energy, says, “We established Tonik Energy to give homeowners the power to significantly reduce their energy bills, and to make renewable energy more accessible. The next decade is going to see huge change as homeowners get genuine insight into energy usage combined with access to smart, in-home, energy efficient technologies that will help you use less energy, access cheaper energy and generate your own energy. It is hugely exciting, therefore, to be collaborating with a like-minded company such as Powervault, who shares our ambition to be at the forefront of this move towards a more sustainable future. We believe it is entirely possible for the customer to save money and be good to the planet without compromising on home comforts.”

Source: Company Press Release


Scotland May Do Better on Its Own as EEA Member, Analyst Says

Sturgeon has been sharply criticized for using her taxpayer-funded tour to promote Scottish independence. She insisted the tour would be focused on boosting trade and investment, but it's demonstrated a sharp political edge as well.

John Wight, host of Radio Sputnik's Hard Facts, said during Brian Becker's Loud and Clear broadcast that Sturgeon acted very cleverly when she signed a joint agreement with California Governor Jerry Brown to work together to tackle climate change.

"She's bolstering the case for Scottish independence, because she's acting as a leader of an independent country," he explained.

"California is a leader in climate change, in renewable energy, and so is Scotland, because Scotland geographically is suited to renewable energy and using the natural resources that [it] has…But on the political level, again, it makes the case that Scotland is a nation in its own right that's making these decisions in its own right and is a player on the world stage."

During her speech at Stanford University, Sturgeon claimed voters in Scotland would prefer independence to the idea of staying part of the UK after it has left the EU, despite the "challenges" that leaving the UK would create.

​According to Wight, Scotland may not meet that many obstacles in re-applying to join the EU, should it leave the UK.

"As you know, Spain has been cited as a country that would veto Scotland joining the EU as an independent country, worried about… Catalonia, especially. But the Spanish foreign minister has come out and said that Spain would not veto Scotland's application…so that's massive," he said.

"I think there's a growing feeling across the EU that the UK needs to be taught a lesson, because this is a very dangerous precedent."

Wight believes Scotland could maintain its economic and diplomatic clout as its own country.

"Because of restrictions that are in place under the terms of the EU membership, I don't think Scotland's best path is to become a full member of the EU, I think it would be much better joined to the European Economic Area alongside Norway and Liechtenstein and Iceland," he suggested.

"Because that would mean that it would not have to sign up to the euro, it would have to pay a fee to gain access to the single market… but most importantly, it would not have to keep to the budget deficit gap as by the Lisbon treaty, and that means Scotland could run a deficit for purposes of investment and public services and in jobs and in infrastructure and so forth, and follow a demand-led economic policy."

Sturgeon wrote to British Prime Minister Theresa May last week to formally request a second Scottish independence referendum, after MSPs voted 69 to 59 in favor of seeking permission for a vote to take place between fall 2018 and spring 2019. However, May has said that "now is not the time" for a second plebiscite.


Report: UK keen to ditch EU renewables target post Brexit

Bloomberg says officials are looking to exclude UK from EU renewables targets while retaining access to bloc's energy market

The UK is reportedly investigating how it could scrap its renewable energy targets for 2020 without disrupting trade in energy with the rest of the EU.

Bloomberg reported this morning that officials at the Treasury and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) are looking at how to drop the UK's legally binding target to source 15 per cent of its energy from renewables by 2020.

The move had been widely expected given the UK government has been a long-standing critic of the targets, arguing they limit the ability of governments to meet carbon targets using alternative technologies , such as nuclear, carbon capture and storage, or energy efficiency gains, that may be more suitable for their national circumstances.

However, supporters of the targets maintain they have helped mobilise investment in renewables that has resulted in drastic cost reductions for renewable technologies, such as onshore wind farms and solar.

The UK is thought to be particularly keen to see the targets for 2020 dropped as it is currently on track to narrowly miss the goal, due to a slower than expected roll out of renewable heat and clean transport technologies. It is also said to be opposed to new targets to source 27 per cent of EU energy from renewables by 2030.

Missing the 2020 target could leave the UK liable for millions of pounds of fines - a scenario that would result in a major political challenge for the government post-Brexit.

However, Bloomberg also reported that in addition to scrapping the targets the government is keen to maintain daily energy trading with Europe's energy market.

Cross border trading is credited with helping to lower energy costs and is set to expand with the proposed development of new interconnectors to the continent and the growing reliance on intermittent sources of renewable energy. Advocates of clean energy argue a North Sea 'supergrid' will help maximise renewables output, allow for energy to be stored using Norwegian pumped hydro plants, and curb the overall cost of low carbon power.

Consequently, the EU is likely to be keen to maintain energy trading with the UK. But the group of 27 remaining EU member states has also signalled that continued UK compliance with environmental and energy goals is likely to be a condition of any new UK-EU trade deal post-Brexit, amidst fears weaker environmental standards could allow UK firms to undercut their rivals on the continent.

As such, similarly complex negotiations are expected over EU imposed recycling targets for 2020, which the UK is also set to miss, and air quality goals, which the UK is currently facing a court order to come up with a credible plan to comply with.

Green groups remain concerned these various environmental targets could be scrapped post-Brexit, or could be retained without any legal mechanism to fully enforce them in the absence of recourse to European courts.

However, political pressure on the government to maintain green rules post-Brexit is building. The latest news came as a poll commissioned by the Bright Blue think tank found 85 per cent of Conservative voters want renewable energy targets to be maintained or strengthened post-Brexit, while clear majorities want wider environmental protections to be kept in place.

The news also comes as reports emerged the government's long awiated 25 Year Plan for Nature could be further delayed until 2018. The wide-ranging plan had been expected last year, but was delayed in the wake of the EU referendum. The ENDS Report this week reported the new strategy, which had been expected in the coming weeks, would not now be released in its current form.

A spokeswoman for Defra said the government remained committed to delivering the promised plan, but refused to be drawn on when it would be released.

"Our ambition is to be the first generation to leave the environment in a better state than we found it, and we are committed to publishing a long-term plan that builds on our long history of wildlife and environmental protection, and sets out a new approach to managing the environment," she said.


Scotland Sets Massive New Wind Power Record In March, Meeting 136% Of Households’ Needs

Clean Power

Published on April 4th, 2017 | by Joshua S Hill

April 4th, 2017 by

The winds blew strong in Scotland throughout March, apparently, as new figures show that wind turbines in Scotland generated record levels of electricity, so much so that on average, wind generated enough to supply the electrical needs of 136% of Scottish households.

New analysis by WWF Scotland of wind power data provided by WeatherEnergy found that wind turbines in Scotland provided 1,240,095 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity to the National Grid during the month of March — enough to supply, on average, the electrical needs of 136% of Scottish households. This represents a stunning 81% increase over the same month a year ago, and obviously represents a new record for the month of March.

Impressively, while this is a strong March — in 2016, wind energy only provided 684,632 MWh, and in 2015 1,006,018 MWh — this does not represent a record for any month, just March, with other months having had higher total outputs. Only the month before, wind energy provided 1,331,420 MWh of electricity to the National Grid in February — enough to power the equivalent of 3.9 million homes, or 162% of Scottish households.

When looked at from the overall electricity consumption in Scotland for the month of March, wind power generated the equivalent of 58% of Scotland’s entire electricity needs, including homes, business, and industry. However, on Friday the 17th and Sunday the 19th of March, Scotland’s wind energy fleet generated output equivalent to more than Scotland’s total power needs for each entire day — 102% and 130% equivalent respectively.

“Given this March wasn’t as windy as it has been in some previous years, this year’s record output shows the importance of continuing increase capacity by building new wind farms,” said WWF Scotland’s director Lang Banks. “As well as helping to power our homes and businesses, wind power supports thousands of jobs and continues to play an important role in Scotland’s efforts to address global climate change by avoiding millions of tonnes of carbon emissions every year.”

“It’s massively impressive how Scotland has steadily grown its wind power output of the years,” said Karen Robinson of WeatherEnergy. “The total output from turbines this March was up more than four-fifths compared to the same period last year. This was enough power to provide the equivalent of the electrical needs of over three million homes. More importantly, it meant the equivalent of almost three-fifths of Scotland total electricity needs during March were met by onshore wind power.”

The WWF is therefore calling on political parties in Scotland to continue backing onshore wind power in an effort to help the country meet its carbon emission cut targets. Additionally, Scotland’s government earlier this year published a draft energy strategy in which it is hoping to deliver the equivalent of 50% of the energy required for Scotland’s heat, transport, and electricity needs from renewable energy sources by 2030.

“However, the UK Government’s decision to end support for onshore wind is going to make meeting our international climate obligations much harder in the future,” Banks continued. “The reality is that if we’re serious about cutting carbon pollution in the most cost-effective way, then we need every one of the political parties in Scotland to back the continued deployment of onshore wind power.

“It’s only with political backing for onshore wind from all of the parties that Scotland will be able to maximise the benefits to its economy, as we transition to a renewable future.”


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CCS should remain key option in UK’s future energy system, says ETI

Published 03 April 2017

Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) should remain a key option in the UK’s future low carbon energy system and could present a considerable economic opportunity, according to the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI).

The value of CCS comes from its potential for use in multiple operations – power generation, the capture of industrial emissions, through the gasification of various feedstocks providing new low carbon energy supplies and delivering “negative emissions” when used in combination with Bioenergy (BECCS).

Achieving the UK’s legally binding 2050 carbon targets without deploying any CCS is very likely to result in substantially higher costs.Based on ETI systems modelling delaying its implementation adds an estimated £1-2bn a year throughout the 2020s to the otherwise lowestt cost options for reducing carbon emissions.

The ETI’s findings are based on 10 years of analysis  and technology development carried out in CCS.

ETI believes existing, proven technologies, developed from a mature technology base should be used to capture CO2,  to move the industry forward today. There is significant storage capacity off the UK coast with no technical barriers to its use. Again from its detailed analysis of UK storage potential the ETI believes no more than six shoreline hubs and 20 offshore stores are needed to deploy CCS effectively in the UK.

Initial infrastructure development incurs high cost, but when viewed as an energy systems wide component in a low carbon transition CCS can bring long term benefit to the UK and potential investors.Public and private sectors   need to take on board the risks that they arebest placed to manage and long term commitments are needed from both sides.

For the industry to progress it has to develop a first commercial CCS plant in the UK.The key to reducing the cost of CCS in the short to medium term is by delivering a small number of large plants sequentially, not further innovation from technology focused research and development activity.

BECCS should also be a component of any UK CCS strategy and its deployment advanced as it can deliver negative emissions (the net removal of CO2 from the atmosphere) whilst also producing energy – electricity, heat, liquid & gaseous fuels.

There are also no “show stopping” technical barriers to BECCS and the UK is well placed to exploit the benefits if the components of BECCS are deployed. But it is unlikely to be implemented unless CCS infrastructure is first developed by large scale power with CCS projects.

Andrew Green, the ETI’s CCS Programme Manager said:

“CCS is critical to decarbonising the UK power, heat and transport sectors, through providing reliable, low carbon electricity generation and the cost-effective production of hydrogen.

"Although critics have claimed it is expensive our analysis has shown that the costs and risks to the UK’s decarbonisation pathway could actually be reduced by bringing forward, rather than delaying, the deployment of CCS. This makes the economic prize of CCS to the UK potentially considerable.

"Early commitment by private sector investors will need similar commitments from the public sector to make investments attractive - therefore long term policy commitment from government is more important than early funding.

"The key to early cost reduction for CCS is through the deployment of investable projects rather than creating new capture technology platforms. The challenge CCS presently faces is a commercial one not a technical one.

"Today’s capture technology is from a mature technology base and further improvements are expected in cost and performance. This can move the industry forward today. Deeper technology improvements will not be as impactful as reducing costs by deployment. It is about making it work, and work at a scale which enables cost reductions.

"Developing lower cost, more efficient technologies remains important for the future, but the commercial deployment of CCS must not be delayed to wait for such developments.”

During 2017 the ETI will be releasing technical data and reports from projects delivered across its technology programmes over the last 10 years. It has just released over 100 documents on its website from its CCS technology programme on the analysis it has undertaken to date in this area to help inform the debate on CCS in the UK.

Source: Company Press Release