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Community Energy Fortnight: Drumlin Wind Energy Co-operative

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The Community Energy Fortnight hopes to raise awareness of renewable energy projects this September. As part of the national event, Drumlin Wind Energy Co-operative is holding tours at one of its turbines on September 17.

The Drumlin Co-operative will be holding an open day for tours of the 147ft (45m) high Drumlin wind turbine. The event is free and runs from 5-6pm on September 17. Visitors can just turn up on the day and do not have to book.

Anyone attending will be able to walk around the site and view inside the turbine.

The turbine is located on 160 Ballyboley Road, Larne in Northern Ireland and development was completed this spring. It is the first community wind co-operative in Northern Ireland and raised £3.9 million through a crowdfunding campaign to build six turbines across the country.

Drumlin told Blue & Green Tomorrow more about their project.

Tell us a bit about your project – what inspired it, how did you decide on this technology, who did you involve?

Drumlin Wind Co-operative was conceived by Andrew McMurray after he had worked with several landowners across Northern Ireland to gain planning consent on a number of single 250 kilowatt wind turbines.

Andrew is an environmentalist, but was also conscious about who owned the projects he was developing and how the capital to build them was raised.  Andrew had links with Energy4All through Friends of the Earth, which is how the idea of community ownership evolved.

Energy4All is a non-profit social enterprise that has created 13 renewable energy co-operatives since it was created by the Baywind Co-operative in 2002.  Andrew and Energy4All created Drumlin and recruited various individuals from Northern Ireland to help raise the capital required to build the turbines.

In July 2012 the first share offer was launched. It gave priority on membership to individuals, organisations and businesses from Northern Ireland.  This raised £2.7 million and with a loan from the Ulster Community Investment Trust, Drumlin was able to build four turbines, two near Pomeroy in County Tyrone, and two in County Antrim. Drumlin issued a tender and Wind Energy Partnership from the Republic of Ireland was awarded the contract to install four WTN250 turbines from Germany.

What benefits and opportunities has this project brought to the local community?

The project allowed residents and organisations from Northern Ireland to do something positive for the environment, whilst earning a reasonable return on an investment in the co-operative.

Ordinarily wind turbines are owned by private individuals, companies or utilities whose owners gain the benefit of selling the generated electricity and receiving incentives from the green levy placed on all our electricity bills.

Drumlin offered this opportunity to anyone who could afford to invest the minimum sum of £250 and offered the local community who were hosting the turbines, £2000 per annum in community benefit, more than twice the national average benefit offered by wind farm developers.

What has been the biggest challenge in getting your project off the ground?

Raising capital in Northern Ireland proved to be quite a challenge.  This is perhaps because it’s the first project of its kind in the province and many people didn’t feel sure about risking their money in a scheme of this kind.

It took a bit longer to raise the money and delays in connecting the turbines to the national grid compromised the initial schedule, however the members have been very patient which has been rewarded as the first two turbines were generating more electricity than was predicted in their first three months of operation.

What has been your greatest success?

After raising the initial £2.7 million, the board of the co-op decided it would like to issue another public share offer to raise enough capital to build another two turbines.  This was launched in March 2013 and managed to raise the £1.2 million it was looking for within two months and had to close early.  Drumlin was also acknowledge as the best Community Energy Project at the annual Action Renewables Awards in April 2014

Given a second chance, what one thing would you have done differently?

We would have had more money in the marketing budget at the start of the project to raise awareness

Would you encourage others to get involved in community energy?

Absolutely, ownership of renewable energy by a co-operative of members is the way it should be.  Energy is as vital to our lives as food and shelter, and local ownership engages people to consider where it comes from and how valuable it is

Top three resources

Energy4All, Morrow Communications and Nigel Brady (Chairman)

 

The Community Energy Coalition (CEC) formed in 2011 and runs the Community Energy Fortnight.

The CEC is made up of 36 members, from of a wide range of organisations and charities, including Forum for the Future, Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) and Co-operative Energy.

The fortnight hopes to inspire and educate people about the benefits of clean, green energy and encourages community groups to set up their own projects.

The public can see renewable energy projects close up with a variety of events and open days held across the UK from September 13–28.

Photo: Drumlin Wind Energy Co-operative

Further reading:

Community Energy Fortnight gears up for second series of events

Community Energy Strategy launched to help local renewables projects

Public shows renewables interest ahead of Community Energy Strategy unveiling

Co-operative Energy to sponsor Community Energy Fortnight

Creating a low-carbon home of your own

Economy

New Zealand to Switch to Fully Renewable Energy by 2035

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renewable energy policy
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Eviart / https://www.shutterstock.com/g/adrian825

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.

Sources: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-06/green-dream-risks-energy-security-as-kiwis-aim-for-zero-carbon

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-hydrocarbons/france-plans-to-end-oil-and-gas-production-by-2040-idUSKCN1BH1AQ

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Economy

How Going Green Can Save A Company Money

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going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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