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EIB Offer Largest Ever Loan for Windfarm

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The European Investment Bank (EIB) has agreed to support the construction of the Beatrice windfarm in Scotland. The £525 million loan is record breaking – it is the single largest investment for an offshore wind project the EIB has ever supported. Construction of the windfarm will begin next year.

The Beatrice windfarm is to be built 14 km off the Caithness coast, near Wick in north-east Scotland. It is the first project in Scotland to be supported by the new European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Investment Plan for Europe, intended to generate EUR 315 billion of new investment across Europe.

Paul Cooley, Director of Renewables at SSE, said: “We are delighted that Beatrice has achieved financial close and we are extremely grateful for all of the support received throughout the development of the project from stakeholders such as the Scottish Government, DECC, HIE, the Highland Council, Moray Council and local communities. Contracts have already been placed with many UK based suppliers, and Siemens intend to undertake turbine blade construction from Siemen’s new manufacturing facility in Hull.

“Today’s decision reaffirms SSE’s commitment to offshore wind and we are proud to progress such a flagship project for the Scottish offshore wind industry and the UK’s skilled supply chain. It shows SSE will continue to play its part in investing in the critical energy infrastructure the country needs to power homes across the UK both today and in the future.

“Around £10 million of investment is planned at Wick Harbour to house the wind farm’s operations and maintenance facilities and improving the existing RNLI facilities. We expect a peak of around 65 jobs during construction of the Operations and Maintenance base with around 90 long-term jobs anticipated during the operational phase.”

The 86 turbine Beatrice windfarm will generate up to 588 megawatts (MW) of renewable electricity equivalent to the energy needs of more than 475 thousand homes and is expected to be fully operational in 2019.

The new wind farm will cost more than £2.7 billion and be built by Beatrice Offshore Windfarm Limited, a partnership formed between SSE, SDIC Power and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners. Construction and operation of the Beatrice windfarm will support job creation, skills training opportunities and opportunities for local businesses in both the Moray and Highland regions of Scotland.

Jonathan Taylor, Vice President at European Investment Bank, said: “Investment in offshore wind is crucial to harnessing the full potential of Scotland’s renewable energy resources. The European Investment Bank is one of the world’s largest lenders for renewable energy and our backing for Beatrice represents the EIB’s largest ever support for offshore wind investment. We are pleased to provide £525 million to support construction of the Beatrice windfarm that will strengthen renewable energy generation in Scotland. This also represents the first Scottish scheme to be backed by the new European Fund for Strategic Investments. EIB backing for energy investment across the UK demonstrates our firm commitment to supporting ambitious energy projects that create jobs and benefit local companies.”

The Beatrice windfarm will use a new generation of Siemens 7MW Wind Turbines with 154-meter diameter rotor blades. The wind turbines, the largest generally available, will each be more than 190m high, taller than the Gherkin building in the City of London. The wind farm will be controlled and operated from a base at Wick, with access to the wind farm primarily by Crew Transfer Vessel as well as by helicopters.

Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, said: “The UK is the world leader in offshore wind and this industry, backed by the UK Government and benefiting from our access to the EU single market, is a success story going from strength to strength. This project will provide home-grown clean energy boosting skills and creating jobs and financial security for working people and their families in Scotland, and across the UK.

“This is great news for the industry and I congratulate the owners SSE, Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and SDIC Power on achieving this significant milestone in the development of this multi-billion pound infrastructure project.”

The £525 million 19 year long-term European Investment Bank loan will support more than £2.7 billion of overall investment. Part of the European Investment Bank loan will be guaranteed under the European Fund for Strategic Investments.

The European Fund for Strategic Investments was established last year by the European Investment Bank and the European Commission to enable increased lending crucial projects by the European Investment Bank in strategic sectors such as renewable energy, digital infrastructure, social infrastructure, transport and research and development, as well as financing for small and medium enterprises.

Paul Wheelhouse, Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy in the Scottish Government, said: “The Beatrice Offshore Windfarm has the opportunity to deliver so much to Caithness and Scotland as a whole, in terms of employment and community benefit. Scotland’s renewables sector is stronger than ever and our early adoption of clean, green energy technology and infrastructure was the right thing to do. Renewables are now Scotland’s biggest electricity generator, and nearly half of gross electricity consumption comes from renewables. Scotland is well on course to meet its interim renewables target and is delivering a strong contribution to global climate efforts. I look forward to this project contributing to our green energy mix.”

Maroš Šefcovic, European Commission Vice-President responsible for Energy Union, said: “Thanks to the Investment Plan and the European Investment Bank, we are getting closer to reaching our COP21 goals. Already the European Fund for Strategic Investments has helped to finance sustainable, green investments across the EU worth billions of euros. Indeed more than half of the EFSI projects approved so far are in renewable energy, energy efficiency and green investment. There’s a business case – it’s time to invest.”

SSE is working closely with local businesses to create a sustainable local supply chain, advertise opportunities for local suppliers and provide opportunities for local firms to benefit from investment in Scotland’s power infrastructure.

In the last ten years the European Investment Bank has provided more than £4 billion for direct investment in Scotland, with additional investment from UK wide programmes. This has included transport, education, social housing, transport, water, energy, urban regeneration and new hospital investment across the Scotland, alongside additional investment from UK wide programmes.

The European Investment Bank is the world’s largest international public bank and is 16 per cent owned by the UK government.

Over the last decade the European Investment Bank has provided more than £10 billion for investment in energy infrastructure across the UK including renewable energy schemes, national transmission networks and regional power distribution as well as inter-connectors to Ireland, France and the Netherlands.

Lending by the EIB in the UK last year totalled £5.6 billion and supported long-term investment in 40 projects across the country.  This represented the largest annual engagement since the start of EIB lending in the UK in 1973 which has supported nearly £16 billion of overall investment.

Energy

Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?

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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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Energy

7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees

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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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