Certain priorities for the UK’s marine energy industry must be maintained if it is to compete with other low carbon sources of energy, according to the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI).
Reflecting on its 10 years of work in marine energy the ETI believes the focus should be on exploiting tidal stream technology commercially. This is because tidal stream has the potential to compete with other low carbon energy sources over the coming decades. Other marine renewable sources are at a less developed stage and therefore carry with them higher costs. Tidal lagoons for example currently lie in between the development stages of tidal stream and wave energy and require large levels of investment to demonstrate and then deploy at scale.
For marine renewables to succeed the ETI believes that a successful agreement on a Contract for Difference (CfD) for tidal energy will be a crucial factor and support and encouragement should also be given to the MeyGen project for the industry to prosper.
The MeyGen project is one of the largest tidal arrays under construction anywhere in the world located in the Pentland Firth – a stretch of water between Caithness and Orkney. It will have a 398MW capacity after the installation of all 269 turbines and the ETI has invested in a project which will see two Atlantis Resources (the developers of MeyGen) owned 1.5MW commercial tidal energy turbines installed on an innovative foundation structure designed and built as part of the project.
Tidal stream energy can have a role in a whole energy system response to a low carbon transition but primarily in specific locations rather than as a blanket supply option. The value of tidal stream energy from an energy systems view is that it is reliable and predictable and it also has the benefit of having a low visual impact and creates economic value in specific locations. The challenge comes from the distribution of the energy generated. Because many of the most powerful tidal sites are at remote locations the source is often a long way from the end consumer. Therefore in the case of energy systems design, the ETI can foresee that it will work best serving inhabited coastal locations as a prime source of energy consumption.
A rethink is required on wave energy technology if it is to be an affordable source of renewable electricity. Wave energy can work technically and has been proven through a small number of installations, but it is presently up to 10 times more expensive than other low carbon alternatives so there needs to be a radical rethink if it is to become cost competitive.
The ETI argues that developers of wave energy need to reconsider their approaches to extraction and conversion to find ways that will drastically reduce costs. Wave has a challenge to overcome, to cost-effectively convert to an energy vector and then connect to the grid. The West Coast of the UK has the best wave energy resource – Cornwall and Scotland, but this, like the best tidal waters is close only to a small percentage of the demand for electricity in the UK energy system
The UK has some of the best tidal waters in the world, but these are generally a long way from grid connections and major population centres
Stuart Bradley, ETI Offshore Renewables Strategy Manager said:
“The UK has some of the best tidal waters in the world, but these are generally a long way from grid connections and major population centres where the demand is greatest. Marine energy also requires engineering solutions to work in the harshest of environments and it is incredibly challenging to build equipment that operates effectively and reliably.
“Whilst it has been demonstrated that you can create and capture energy from the sea it is currently very expensive to do so and this has to be addressed for the sector to grow.
“A rethink is required in wave to bring costs down, but the early signs are that bodies such as Wave Energy Scotland are tackling this challenge so support should continue to be provided to such work.
“The UK has some of the world’s best tidal and wave resources and we do lead the world in tidal and wave device development. But it remains an industry in relevant infancy. Policy makers need to review the evidence base and decide the exact contribution of marine energy to a future low carbon energy industry so the industry can move ahead, improve cost performance and contribute positively.”
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 released to its website over 100 documents from its marine technology programme on the research it has undertaken to date in this area to help inform the debate on marine energy in the UK.
Information from its marine programme can be found at http://www.eti.co.uk/programmes/marine
Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?
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?
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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!