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Scottish loan scheme drives community renewables

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Communities and rural businesses across Scotland can now apply to a £23.5m government loan scheme that supports the development of small-scale renewable energy generation projects.

Scottish energy minister Fergus Ewing launched the Communities and Renewable Energy Loan Scheme (CARES) during a speech to the Scottish Highland Renewable Energy Conference in Inverness at the end of April.

The scheme funds the testing and development of small-scale renewable energy projects for local communities and rural businesses. Designed to support the growth of these projects before they reach planning, it acknowledges the fact that the pre-planning stage is often viewed too high-risk for commercial loans.

Individual projects can receive up to £150,000 to cover 95% of agreed pre-development costs, such as environmental impact assessment or technical feasibility. Those projects returning the greatest benefit to their community will be more likely to receive a loan.

Rural business developers—typically farming businesses who want to put renewables projects on land they own or lease—must make an annual payment of a minimum £10,000 per megawatt (MW) of installed capacity to a local community organisation for a 20-year duration.

All loans are repaid in full, with interest, once the finance for the capital construction stage is finalised.

Ewing highlighted the renewables targets that the loan-scheme would help achieve and echoed the potential economic rewards, stating: “We have set a target of 500MW of community and locally owned renewable energy projects by 2020, which could be worth up to £2.4 billion to Scottish communities and rural businesses over the lifetime of those projects.”

He also highlighted some recent research done on behalf of the Scottish Government by Scotland’s Energy Saving Trust that helped produce a factual database of all community and locally-owned renewable energy installations in Scotland up to June 2011.

The report contained key findings that explained why CARES is critical in achieving Scotland’s 2020 community and locally-owned renewables target. It showed that by the end of June 2011, an estimated minimum 147MW of energy capacity was operational in Scotland, with a further 666MW estimated to be in different stages of development.

On the one hand, these results show that Scotland is on track to achieve its 2020 500MW target. But they also reflect massive energy potential that must be converted from theory and planning into renewable reality.

Breaking down the 666MW figure: 25MW is under construction, 96MW has been granted planning permission but is yet to be constructed, 334MW is awaiting a final planning decision, and a further 200MW is under consideration.

The importance of this kind of monitoring is sometimes underplayed; it serves to highlight why the Government must continue to use cash from fund pots or loan-schemes to support local renewables projects up to planning.

Ewing also stressed the wider community benefits of the new loan system, explaining: “The CARES scheme empowers communities all over Scotland to capitalise on our green energy revolution by developing their own community energy.

They will in turn be able to take the profits from the schemes and plough them back into their own communities.

Incomes can be reinvested into school education; improved public access to information about household energy conservation; improved social amenities and quality of housing; or green business opportunities in areas such as household waste sorting. Overall, it will empower local people by allowing them to make decisions about how to most effectively use the money.

CARES is certainly reflective of the Scottish Government’s wider drive to achieve a more sustainable nation both at community and commercial scales. Recent news highlighted the Government’s continuing efforts to unlock more of the vast wind, wave and tidal resources available on Scotland’s element battered islands, with an attack on Ofgem’s review of a planned overhaul of the renewable electricity transmission charging system.

After the energy regulator warned in their review that the cost of clean energy generation in the Scottish islands would remain “very high”, Ewing expressed disappointment that they had not delivered a more concrete solution to supporting green energy generation.

The problem lies with the existing structure of transmission charging; investment cost related pricing (ICRP) charges generators more the further they are from demand.

Ewing said: “It is disappointing that the regulator has left little scope for the islands to get fair treatment through the industry stage of Project Transmit and we will continue to work to get the best deal possible for them.”

One thing remains certain: the Scottish Government under SNP power will continue to work hard towards making Scotland more sustainable. This means focusing not only on finding ways to reduce the cost of producing and delivering clean energy at a commercial scale, but also crucially on empowering communities in their efforts to become sustainable themselves.

More can be discovered about the details of Scotland’s existing community level energy generation and carbon reduction projects under the Project Database at Community Energy Scotland. If you are interested in switching to renewable electricity for your home or business, visit Good Energy—the UK’s only 100% renewable energy supplier.

Further reading:

Scotland on track for 2020 renewables target

Scottish renewables fund to create “double positive effect”

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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