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Scotland surges on in renewable energy investment

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Scotland is set to become the UK’s leading location for attracting renewable energy investment, with an £8 billion injection into the sector expected within the next five to six years.

The projected figures – equivalent to £4.5m per day – come after 2011-12 statistics compiled by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) revealed that £1.7 billion of new renewable energy projects were completed north of the border, creating an impressive 4,411 jobs.

Only Yorkshire – with £1.9bn of new renewable energy investment and 5,416 jobs – topped Scotland in the DECC UK investment league for renewable energy.

Other parts of the UK showing high levels of renewables investment and jobs last year included the east of England with £845m and 1,360 jobs, and the north-west of England with £642m and 1,544 jobs, according to the DECC statistics.

However, the figures for all new renewables projects in the pipeline showed that Scotland is likely to storm ahead of other UK locations, with up to £8bn of investments expected and the creation of a further 3313 jobs.

The latest news suggests that the nation will head the DECC investment league table for years to come.

One key project included in the £8bn investment are the plans by Gamesa to invest up to £121m in developing a new offshore wind hub at Edinburgh’s port of Leith. The plant is to be assembled by mid-2013 in partnership with Forth Ports, creating over 800 jobs and helping stimulate growth of the renewables industry in the local area.

The investment will re-industrialise and redefine a place characterised by the effects of twentieth century economic decline and resulting structural unemployment.

It is a project representative of the Scottish government’s drive to create both an environmentally and economically sustainable future for Scotland.

Indeed, the extra £8bn of investments in the pipeline is a matter of more than just a country which has an abundance of renewable energy sources – 25% of Europe’s offshore wind, 25% of its tidal and 10% of its wave power – but resultant of a government under SNP power committed to promoting Scotland as a global renewable energy centre.

John Wilson, the deputy head of Holyrood’s energy committee, stressed that the latest figures highlight the attraction of Scotland for renewables investment. He said, “The fact that the Scottish government had continued with its policies of promoting renewable energy has provided the industry with confidence.

Scotland will not only continue as a producer of renewable energy, but will also become a major manufacturer of renewable technology.”

Indeed, the SNP administration marked its commitment towards renewables last year in record-breaking fashion when, in the overall aim to generate the equivalent of 100% gross electricity consumption from renewable energy by 2020, it exceeded the 2011 interim target of 31%.

If the £8 billion investment target is met and exceeded because of this same political motivation, it would dwarf the projected £1.8 billion lined up for Yorkshire over the same period.

Reiterating the significance of the SNP party in making Scotland a centre for renewable energy, Stewart Stevenson, Scotland’s environment minister, said earlier last week: “The renewables industry already supports more than 11,000 jobs across Scotland and plans to install up to 10 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind-generated capacity in Scottish waters are predicted to create around £30 billion of investment by 2020 and to directly employ 28,000 people.

The emerging wave and tidal energy industry, where up to 1.6GW of capacity is planned for the Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters, is predicted to create several thousand more renewables jobs.”

However, the latest DECC figures have given critics the opportunity to stick the knife into Alex Salmond’s renewable energy ambitions.

Tory MSP Alex Johnstone said that the SNP government’s “overreliance” on renewables would lead it to become a “one-industry country”. He also targeted Alex Salmond by insisting that UK ministers had set the regime which made Scotland so attractive for renewables investment, and claimed that the First Minister “should stop blowing his own trumpet over these figures”.

Of course, Mr Johnstone’s claims are designed to undermine the First Ministers campaign for independence by attacking one of the key ways in which the SNP want to boost economic growth for Scotland in the future: establishing a re-industrialised green energy sector.

Yet redefining Scotland’s energy economy by continuing to focus on renewables is a positive political move. It will maintain the existing strong investor confidence in Scotland as a global renewable energy centre, creating thousands of new jobs and training opportunities while alleviating the country from a future dependency on oil.

Interestingly, the DECC figures were published soon after the UK government launched its draft energy bill, which some critics – notably WWF Scotland – have warned will be skewed towards the support of nuclear power. Such a move may threaten future renewable energy generation.

Certainly, it is true that until the point where all of our energy needs can be met with renewables, there will still be a need for fossil-fuel and nuclear energy sources. But it will also be vital that renewables opponents learn to understand that just because it is unclear now about whether renewable energy can be produced cheaply on the commercial scale, does not mean to say that the government should stop investing into research and development in the interest of having a more sustainable form of energy in the long-term.

The £8 billion of future investments will be realised not just because of Scotland’s natural energy resource potential – but also because of an exciting pro-renewable political environment headed by Alex Salmond which has and will continue to succeed in attracting big investors to towards developing offshore, wave and tidal technologies up to commercial scale application.

Further reading:

Scotland on track for 2020 renewable target

New wave of funding for marine energy sector

Scottish renewables fund to create “double positive effect”

Economy

A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon

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energy efficient homes

Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.

There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.

1. The Rise Of Smart Windows

When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.

If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.

2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs

If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.

Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.

3. Low-E Windows Taking Over

It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.

They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.

4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges

Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.

The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.

5. Improving Our Current LEDs

Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.

That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.

Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too

Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.

ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244

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Economy

IEMA Urge Government’s Industrial Strategy Skills Overhaul To Adopt A “Long View Approach”

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IEMA, in response to the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, have welcomed the focus on technical skills and education to boost “competence and capability” of tomorrow’s workforce.

Policy experts at the world’s leading professional association of Environment and Sustainability professionals has today welcomed Prime Minister Teresa May’s confirmation that an overhaul of technical education and skills will form a central part of the Plan for Britain – but warns the strategy must be one for the long term.

Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor at IEMA said this morning that the approach and predicted investment in building a stronger technical skills portfolio to boost the UK’s productivity and economic resilience is positive, and presents an opportunity to drive the UK’s skills profile and commitment to sustainability outside of the EU.

Commenting on the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, Baxter said today:

“Government must use the Industrial Strategy as an opportunity to accelerate the UK’s transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient economy – one that is flexible and agile and which gives a progressive outlook for the UK’s future outside the EU.

We welcome the focus on skills and education, as it is vital that tomorrow’s workforce has the competence and capability to innovate and compete globally in high-value manufacturing and leading technology.

There is a real opportunity with the Industrial Strategy, and forthcoming 25 year Environment Plan and Carbon Emissions Reduction Plan, to set long-term economic and environmental outcomes which set the conditions to unlock investment, enhance natural capital and provide employment and export opportunities for UK business.

We will ensure that the Environment and Sustainability profession makes a positive contribution in responding to the Green Paper.”

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