A new European phrase of world-leading collaborative development, research and demonstration (R&D) programme – the Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) was revealed by The Carbon Trust. This programme is designed to impact the levelised cost of energy (LCoE) from offshore wind and improve efficiency, availability and reduce costs of existing and future offshore wind farms.
Nine of the largest offshore wind developers in Europe: DONG Energy, EnBW, E.ON, Iberdrola, RWE, SSE, Statkraft, Statoil and Vattenfall have signed up to the programme. Over the next four years the developers will collectively invest at least £6.4 million, boosted by a further £1.5 million from the Scottish Government, to bring new innovations to market that will help to ensure that the typical cost of offshore wind is below £100 per MWh by 2020.
The success of the OWA over the past eight years has been based on an exemplary industry-led RD&D model where the priorities are set by developers to facilitate targeted and efficient commercialisation of new innovations. The projects undertaken by the OWA programme are selected to impact the LCoE by improving performance in offshore wind farm design, construction and operation.
The Scottish Government’s Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, Paul Wheelhouse said:
“The Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) is a collaborative programme run by the Carbon Trust, which aims to reduce the cost of offshore wind through technological innovation.
“Previous Scottish Government support for the OWA has helped develop new ideas in key areas of importance to companies operating in Scottish waters and I have no doubt this new funding will help firms to continue this important work.
“Only last month, around 350 jobs were announced as a direct result of the construction of the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm, highlighting the massive opportunity offshore wind presents to Scotland and the Scottish economy.
“Innovation in renewables also continues to contribute to the excellent progress we are making on reducing greenhouse gas emissions after the recent announcement that Scotland has exceeded our 2020 target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 42% six years early.”
Tom Delay, Chief Executive Officer, the Carbon Trust commented:
Over the last five years the cost of energy from offshore wind has decreased significantly, largely driven by a combination of innovation, risk reduction and increased deployment rates.
“But we need to continue building on this success by getting the right solutions into market quickly to put offshore wind on the path to cost competitiveness by 2020. The Offshore Wind Accelerator has an impressive track record, providing an effective mechanism for public and private sector to work together to meet the cost reduction challenge head on. Its success lies in the sharing of the risks and rewards of innovation through industry-led collaborative research, development and deployment.
The Scottish Government’s £1.5m investment into the programme, alongside nine of the biggest developers in Europe, shows there is real confidence in the ability of the OWA to continue to deliver cost reductions. We hope this will enable us to leverage further public and private investment into the programme, so our cost reduction ambitions for this important sector can be surpassed.”
Dirk Güsewell, Senior Vice President Generation Portfolio Development of EnBW Energie Baden-Württemberg AG commented:
“Innovation and cost reduction are key for the future of offshore wind. EnBW believes that the OWA consortium is an excellent industry-driven vehicle to further assess which technologies will lead to these objectives.”
Jonathan Cole, Iberdrola Offshore Managing Director said:
“It is vital that the industry continues to work together in order to drive down costs in offshore renewables. The North Sea is the world’s leading offshore wind development area, and the collaboration between large international developers here is a welcome move towards securing and delivering affordable low carbon energy generation.”
The OWA programme, originally created in 2008, has been a driving force behind a range of new innovations such as; developing and demonstrating new foundations; the development and adoption of 66kV cabling; improving wind resource measurement and modelling, and new innovative access vessels. Over the last eight years the OWA has delivered over 125 projects, ranging from feasibility studies to multimillion-pound, full-scale technology demonstrations. Today, many of the innovations commercialised through the OWA are being deployed by developers building Round 2 and Round 3 wind farm sites, and are delivering direct cost reductions now.
Following a record year for installations in 2015 the European Wind Energy Association estimates that over 20GW of offshore wind will be deployed in Europe by 2020. In additional to benefits of creating a low carbon secure source of electricity, offshore wind also offers greater economic and employment opportunities. Estimates from the International Renewable Energy Agency show that jobs in the European offshore wind industry increased twelvefold between 2007 (6,370) to 2014 (75,000).
OWA partners including RWE, E.ON, Vattenfall and Statoil were among a group of companies who published an open letter earlier this month, outlining a pledge to cut the cost of offshore wind farms to make them a competitive source of electricity generation. The declaration set out an ambition to reach €80 per megawatt hour by 2025.
New Zealand to Switch to Fully Renewable Energy by 2035
New Zealand’s prime minister-elect Jacinda Ardern is already taking steps towards reducing the country’s carbon footprint. She signed a coalition deal with NZ First in October, aiming to generate 100% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2035.
New Zealand is already one of the greenest countries in the world, sourcing over 80% of its energy for its 4.7 million people from renewable resources like hydroelectric, geothermal and wind. The majority of its electricity comes from hydro-power, which generated 60% of the country’s energy in 2016. Last winter, renewable generation peaked at 93%.
Now, Ardern is taking on the challenge of eliminating New Zealand’s remaining use of fossil fuels. One of the biggest obstacles will be filling in the gap left by hydropower sources during dry conditions. When lake levels drop, the country relies on gas and coal to provide energy. Eliminating fossil fuels will require finding an alternative source to avoid spikes in energy costs during droughts.
Business NZ’s executive director John Carnegie told Bloomberg he believes Ardern needs to balance her goals with affordability, stating, “It’s completely appropriate to have a focus on reducing carbon emissions, but there needs to be an open and transparent public conversation about the policies and how they are delivered.”
The coalition deal outlined a few steps towards achieving this, including investing more in solar, which currently only provides 0.1% of the country’s energy. Ardern’s plans also include switching the electricity grid to renewable energy, investing more funds into rail transport, and switching all government vehicles to green fuel within a decade.
Zero net emissions by 2050
Beyond powering the country’s electricity grid with 100% green energy, Ardern also wants to reach zero net emissions by 2050. This ambitious goal is very much in line with her focus on climate change throughout the course of her campaign. Environmental issues were one of her top priorities from the start, which increased her appeal with young voters and helped her become one of the youngest world leaders at only 37.
Reaching zero net emissions would require overcoming challenging issues like eliminating fossil fuels in vehicles. Ardern hasn’t outlined a plan for reaching this goal, but has suggested creating an independent commission to aid in the transition to a lower carbon economy.
She also set a goal of doubling the number of trees the country plants per year to 100 million, a goal she says is “absolutely achievable” using land that is marginal for farming animals.
Greenpeace New Zealand climate and energy campaigner Amanda Larsson believes that phasing out fossil fuels should be a priority for the new prime minister. She says that in order to reach zero net emissions, Ardern “must prioritize closing down coal, putting a moratorium on new fossil fuel plants, building more wind infrastructure, and opening the playing field for household and community solar.”
A worldwide shift to renewable energy
Addressing climate change is becoming more of a priority around the world and many governments are assessing how they can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and switch to environmentally-friendly energy sources. Sustainable energy is becoming an increasingly profitable industry, giving companies more of an incentive to invest.
Ardern isn’t alone in her climate concerns, as other prominent world leaders like Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron have made renewable energy a focus of their campaigns. She isn’t the first to set ambitious goals, either. Sweden and Norway share New Zealand’s goal of net zero emissions by 2045 and 2030, respectively.
Scotland already sources more than half of its electricity from renewable sources and aims to fully transition by 2020, while France announced plans in September to stop fossil fuel production by 2040. This would make it the first country to do so, and the first to end the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles.
Many parts of the world still rely heavily on coal, but if these countries are successful in phasing out fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable resources, it could serve as a turning point. As other world leaders see that switching to sustainable energy is possible – and profitable – it could be the start of a worldwide shift towards environmentally-friendly energy.
5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable
Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.
1. Weather stripping
If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.
Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.
Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.
2. Programmable thermostats
Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.
Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!
3. Low-flow water hardware
With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.
Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.
Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.
4. Energy efficient light bulbs
An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.
New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.
5. Installing solar panels
Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.
Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.
From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!
These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.
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