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Celebrating Scotland’s sustainable innovation on St Andrew’s Day

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As it’s St Andrew’s Day, we round up some of the stuff we’ve written about Scotland in the past year or so, ranging from innovative renewable energy plans to the housing of the Green Investment Bank.

Every year on November 30, Scotland celebrates the life of its patron saint, Andrew, a first century martyr whose crucifixion on an X-shaped cross is the inspiration behind the country’s flag.

As the northern-most nation in the UK, it is historically known for haggis, bagpipes, kilts, Irn Bru and its wet, blustery climate. And while the first four things on the list are often used as stereotypical Scottish items, the last one has allowed the country to take serious, innovative steps in harnessing its plentiful natural resources for energy.

In October, first minister Alex Salmond announced that Scotland will be producing half of its electricity from renewables by 2015 – five years earlier than planned – after Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) figures showed that some 35% of the country’s power came from clean sources in 2011.

This marked a huge leap forward for Scotland, which is home to a significant proportion of Europe’s wave and tidal capacity, while only housing 1% of the continent’s population.

Its ground-breaking marine arsenal was boosted in June when Salmond announced an £18m funding injection to help develop Scotland’s first commercially viable wave and tidal systems.

The Marine Renewables Commercialisation Fund, steered by the Carbon Trust, formed part of the £35m committed by the Scottish government and its enterprise agencies to specifically support the transition of demonstrator wave and tidal power schemes up to commercialisation between now and 2015.

And the country further displayed its allegiance to marine renewables after revealing in August that the world’s first community-owned tidal turbine” would be constructed off its coast.

Statistics compiled by DECC in June outlined how Scotland was set to become the UK’s leading location for attracting renewable energy investment. The department claimed that some £8 billion worth of investment is expected to be pumped into the Scottish renewables industry, creating over 3,300 jobs in the process.

Indeed, in 2011/12, £1.7 billion of new renewable energy projects were completed north of the border, creating an impressive 4,411 jobs. Only Yorkshire (£1.9 billion and 5,416 jobs) surpassed Scotland.

But fighting back against the country’s innovation into renewables is a select group of individuals, led by US tycoon Donald Trump, who plan to derail further clean energy investment in Scotland – specifically, into wind power.

In 2011, Trump launched an international tirade against the Scottish government’s plans for an offshore wind farm to be built a mile and a half away from his £750m luxury golf resort at Menie estate in Aberdeenshire.

With the reckless installation of these monsters, you will single-handedly have done more damage to Scotland than virtually any event in Scottish history”, he wrote in a letter to Salmond.

You seem hell bent on destroying Scotland’s coastline and therefore, Scotland itself – but I will never be ‘on board’, as you have stated I would be, with this insanity.”

But Salmond stood firm, claiming that the government were intent on capitalising on Scotland’s vast offshore wind potential, which he claimed accounted for up to a quarter of Europe’s capacity. And only last week, Scottish MPs dismissed Trump’s claims that renewable energy development in Scotland was damaging the country’s tourism, boosting plans for the offshore wind farm at Aberdeenshire to be built.

Scotland’s advancement in green energy meant its capital, Edinburgh, was one of the key contenders to be named as headquarters of the government’s Green Investment Bank (GIB). And sure enough, business secretary Vince Cable revealed in March that the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) had selected the city as home for the GIB – to somewhat mixed reaction across the UK.

However, its offices were finalised in August this year and on Wednesday, Cable cut the bank’s ribbon and announced it was open for business.

Having the headquarters in Edinburgh is a powerful vote of confidence in the union, and a testimony to our commitment to helping Scotland lead the green revolution”, he said, adding another string to Scotland’s ever-expanding, and increasingly commendable, green bow.

Further reading:

Scotland ramps up renewable electricity target to 50% by 2015

Cable cuts ribbon on Green Investment Bank

Edinburgh location almost finalised for Green Investment Bank

Salmond vs. Trump in heavyweight offshore wind match-up

Scotland surges on in renewable energy investment

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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