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Isle of Man grants licence to explore potential for offshore tidal energy



Plans to grow the Manx economy and work with the UK to help meet its energy targets by harnessing the Isle of Man’s natural resources to generate renewable energy have taken a significant step forward.

The Isle of Man Government has granted a survey licence to a local company to explore the possibility of developing a tidal array on an area of the seabed off the Point of Ayre.

The seven-year agreement will enable Manx Tidal Energy Limited to carry out preliminary work to determine the practicality and commercial viability of offshore electricity production.

The development of an offshore energy hub is one of the key strategies of the Government’s long-term proposals to boost the economy. Leasing parts of the Island’s seabed for renewable energy generation is expected to make a major contribution to public funds and local job creation.

The Department of Infrastructure is working closely with Department of Economic Development, the Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture, the Attorney General’s Chambers and Manx Tidal Energy to progress the proposals. A small team has successfully concluded the first stage of a complex technical process that may eventually lead to installation of tidal turbines in Manx waters.

Infrastructure Minister Phil Gawne MHK said: ‘The opportunities for the Isle of Man in renewable energy are significant. Leasing parts of our seabed to offshore tidal developers will generate substantial revenue directly to the Isle of Man Government, helping to fund public services as well as lowering our carbon footprint.’

He added: ‘The granting of a survey licence to Manx Tidal Energy is a welcome first step towards realising our vision. This will allow the company to conduct work to determine a number of important factors, including the suitability of the seabed to install turbines and the strength of the tidal current off the Point of Ayre. If the surveys prove that a tidal array is viable the Department would look to agree a lease for development, subject to all the necessary approvals being in place.’

In addition to the area off the Point of Ayre, there is potential for survey licences to be granted for three further sites off the southern end of the Manx coast.

Tidal arrays involve anchoring turbines to the seabed, well below the surface of the water, in locations where there is a reliably fast tidal current. This helps to generate a constant supply of renewable energy, some of which could be exported to the United Kingdom.

Any development would be subject to approval under the relevant consenting regime and would also require the submission of a full environmental impact assessment. The need to protect transport links and fisheries would be an important consideration.

Economic Development Minister Laurence Skelly MHK said: ‘The granting of the survey licence has been achieved as a result of collaborative working between the public and private sectors. It demonstrates our commitment to diversifying and growing the Manx economy in new and innovative ways. As well as raising income through leasing parts of our seabed, there is potential for new jobs to be created for Isle of Man workers, as offshore installations require onshore support to manage their operation and maintenance.’

He added: ‘If the development of tidal arrays in Manx waters is viable, all the infrastructure costs involved in building and installing the facilities would be borne by the developer rather than the Isle of Man Government. This industry has huge potential for the future and I look forward to further progress being made.’

The granting of the survey licence follows an announcement in November 2014 of Manx Tidal Energy Ltd as the preferred partner to develop tidal power within the Island’s 12-mile territorial seas.

Andrew Roy, Chairman of Manx Tidal Energy, commented: ‘Manx Tidal Energy is extremely pleased to have been granted this prospecting licence to explore the opportunities for offshore electricity production. This significant and inspiring project has taken another important step forward.’

He added: ‘The potential of this site illustrates just how large the environmental and economic opportunities are in the Isle of Man’s territorial waters, potentially making it a world leader in offshore energy production. The size and scale of the site could make this the largest tidal energy project in the world to date. The ambition of the industry is matched by a vision from Government and the issue of this survey licence demonstrates the political appetite exists to unlock the vast potential of the Irish Sea’s clean energy resources.’


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Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?



sustainable wood burning ideas

Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?

Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.

Is Biofuel Green?

One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.

Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?

Homegrown Technology

Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.

Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.

Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.

Benefits Of Biomass

The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.

Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.

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7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees



As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.

After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:

Financial Advising

One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.

Life Insurance

While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.

Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies

Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.

The Ability To Work Remotely

It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.

Health Insurance

Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.

Unlimited Time Off

This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.

A Full Pantry

Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.

Final Thoughts

Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!

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