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Scottish Energy Minister visits world’s largest tidal energy development



MeyGen, the world’s largest tidal stream development, today welcomed Scottish Energy Minister, Fergus Ewing, to its site in Caithness. The Minister visited the site to witness first-hand the onshore and offshore construction works taking place, and spoke to the infrastructure team on the ground about the engineering aspects of this pioneering marine project.

The Minister’s visit coincides with a series of successful milestones completed by MeyGen, demonstrating that progress on the project is well underway and on schedule for delivery.

In particular, the visit marks the completion of Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) of bore holes from the foreshore into the inner sound and down to the seabed, with successful subsea exits on all four bore holes. Each hole is 550 meters in length and will house power cables which will connect the subsea turbines to the onshore Power Conversion Centre.

Works on the onshore facilities have also taken a step forward with construction on the Power Conversion Centre starting this week. The Power Conversion Centre will take the power generated by the subsea turbines and feed it into the electricity grid.

Meanwhile, grid connection cable burial works along the 12 mile route from Hastigrow have also commenced.

Commenting on his visit, Fergus Ewing said: “This is an exciting, first-of-a-kind project. I am pleased to be here in Caithness to mark this significant step forward in the onshore construction works which has created vital employment for the area.

“The eyes of the global marine industry are on this project. I am heartened to see the involvement of home-grown companies including John Gunn & Sons Ltd and Leask Marine, and I very much hope there will be further opportunities for the Scottish supply chain. When fully operational this tidal stream array could generate enough electricity to power the equivalent of 175,000 homes.”

MeyGen was one of the first tidal projects in the world to secure the necessary planning consent, lease agreement, grid connection and power purchase agreement in order to begin onshore and offshore construction. Atlantis Resources, the leading tidal project developer, is the majority owner of MeyGen.

Dan Pearson, CEO of MeyGen, said: “The MeyGen project represents the best of what Scotland has to offer when it comes to the energy infrastructure development: an integrated supply chain, state of the art manufacturing facilities, and world class engineering skills. We are truly honoured to host the Minister and thank him for his continued support on this pioneering project.”

The project has been supported by Scottish Government’s Renewable Energy Investment Fund (REIF), which is administered by Scottish Enterprise. Head of REIF, Andrew Smith, said: “MeyGen’s development is a key project for Scotland’s renewable sector, offering extensive opportunities to Scottish supply chain. We’re delighted to mark the progress being made at the site, which embodies Scotland’s growing reputation as a leading global centre of excellence for development, deployment and commercialisation of tidal energy.”

Calum Davidson, Director Energy & Low Carbon, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, said: “MeyGen is a hugely significant development in marine energy.  Crucial to the success of the project is the expertise found in the local supply chain. Therefore, we are delighted to see the initial site works going ahead on time and within budget.”

The MeyGen project is the world’s largest planned tidal development at 398 megawatts of total installed capacity when fully constructed. Situated in the Pentland Firth, the MeyGen array will consist of 269 submerged tidal turbines, enough to power 175,000 Scottish homes. In Phase 1A of the project, four submerged turbines generating 6 MW will be installed in the Inner Pentland Firth just north of Caithness, with first power expected to be delivered in 2016.

ABB, the leading power and automation technology group, is the principal contractor for all onshore construction of the MeyGen project and has been working closely with local businesses John Gunn & Sons Ltd, HRI architects and Leask Marine to fully utilise the Scottish supply chain and boost the local economy.

Ian Funnell Managing Director, ABB UK said: “ABB is proud to contribute to the MeyGen project and to help develop Scotland’s leadership in tidal energy. Not only are we are coordinating from our Scottish engineering office in East Kilbride but we have also appointed local contractors wherever possible to support the Scottish supply chain.”

The MeyGen project’s status as a world first in terms of scale and reach also extends into environmental aspects of the project, which it has incorporated into its design. The Power Conversion centre is designed to withstand and protect the critical electrical equipment against the extreme elements of the Pentland Firth, whilst its unique aesthetic will enable the building to blend into the local environment and offer minimal visual and noise impact on the surrounding countryside.  Operationally, the centre has been designed with bespoke water, waste, and cooling solutions, in order to minimise the environmental impact. Minimising any potential impacts on local wildlife is another critical aspect to the project’s design. A dedicated otter crossing has been installed under the roadway and special slit traps surround the entire MeyGen site to prevent any draining water from contaminating natural watercourses.


Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?



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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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:

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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