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Ofgem likely to fund Scottish hook-up between renewable energy and grid

Ofgem, the energy regulator, has hinted that it will approve investment plans for renewable energy projects in Scotland to be connected to the UK grid. Alex Blackburne looks into yet another encouraging story coming out of the Northern most segment of Britain.

As the UK continues to fumble around its renewable energy agenda – namely through such controversial, much-discussed policies as the Green Deal and the feed-in tariff scheme – Scotland is quietly making a name for itself in the green world.



Ofgem, the energy regulator, has hinted that it will approve investment plans for renewable energy projects in Scotland to be connected to the UK grid. Alex Blackburne looks into yet another encouraging story coming out of the Northern most segment of Britain.

As the UK continues to fumble around its renewable energy agenda – namely through such controversial, much-discussed policies as the Green Deal and the feed-in tariff scheme – Scotland is quietly making a name for itself in the green world.

Following its pledge to become 100% renewable by 2020 – no mean feat, by the way – the country looks set to receive the approval of Ofgem for its existing wind turbine fleet to be linked up to the UK grid.

The deal, worth £7.6 billion, has been tabled by energy companies Scottish Power and SSE, and although a final decision won’t be made until April, early signs suggest Ofgem will approve plans.

The energy regulator said that the announcement will “[deliver] essential upgrades to Scotland’s transmission network at the lowest cost to consumers”, and estimates that an extra 35p a year will be added to consumers’ bills between 2013 and 2021.

The news has been met with excitement and appreciation by industry officials in Scotland.

Catherine Birkbeck, grid and markets policy manager at Scottish Renewables, the country’s leading green energy trade association, said, “These new proposals by Ofgem means Scotland’s electricity generated from renewable sources such as onshore wind will reach more homes and businesses across the country than ever before.

“It is especially important for the north east of Scotland and the islands where we have so much of our natural resource in wind and marine energy.

“Commitment from Ofgem to invest in new grid connections will also attract inward investment in Scotland, but only if the cost for generators to connect to the network is not prohibitively high.”

Francis Stuart, parliamentary officer at Friends of the Earth Scotland, likewise agreed that investment in renewables was incredibly important.

However, he also said, “This investment will only be properly realised if the accompanying charging regime is made fit for purpose.

“The current system discourages renewable investors from taking forward projects in Scotland as costs are higher than elsewhere in the UK.”

Ofgem’s current review of the charging arrangements for energy transmission networks, called Project TransmiT, is likely to reduce the costs for grid connection for renewable projects.

Stuart said that this only applies for the mainland, though, and that renewable electricity generation on the Scottish islands will be “up to seven times more expensive”.

With regards to Project TransmiT, he said, “The review was designed to ensure that the transmission charging framework was supporting the transition to a low carbon economy.

“While it is a step in the right direction, unless the wind, wave and tidal potential of Scotland’s islands are realised, it will be a missed opportunity.”

Scotland has already begun experimenting with its magnificent renewable capabilities, after its Government announced plans to build a massive, two-bladed wind turbine off the coast of Methil in Fife.

This CGI video, produced for the Scottish Low Carbon Investment Conference, provides a visual insight as to what the country could well look like in the not-too-distant future, if its innovation in renewable technologies continues.

As always, widespread investment in clean technologies, starting on your very own doorstep, is the key to achieving every target and realising every promise.

To find out how you can get involved, ask your financial adviser. Don’t have one? Then fill in our online form [LINK] and we can set you on the right track to start making your money make a difference.

Photo: via Flickr


Road Trip! How to Choose the Greenest Vehicle for Your Growing Family



Greenest Vehicle
Licensed Image by Shutterstock - By Mascha Tace --

When you have a growing family, it often feels like you’re in this weird bubble that exists outside of mainstream society. Whereas everyone else seemingly has stability, your family dynamic is continuously in flux. Having said that, is it even possible to buy an eco-friendly vehicle that’s also practical?

What to Look for in a Green, Family-Friendly Vehicle?

As a single person or young couple without kids, it’s pretty easy to buy a green vehicle. Almost every leading car brand has eco-friendly options these days and you can pick from any number of options. The only problem is that most of these models don’t work if you have kids.

Whether it’s a Prius or Smart car, most green vehicles are impractical for large families. You need to look for options that are spacious, reliable, and comfortable – both for passengers and the driver.

5 Good Options

As you do your research and look for different opportunities, it’s good to have an open mind. Here are some of the greenest options for growing families:

1. 2014 Chrysler Town and Country

Vans are not only popular for the room and comfort they offer growing families, but they’re also becoming known for their fuel efficiency. For example, the 2014 Chrysler Town and Country – which was one of CarMax’s most popular minivans of 2017 – has Flex Fuel compatibility and front wheel drive. With standard features like these, you can’t do much better at this price point.

2. 2017 Chrysler Pacifica

If you’re looking for a newer van and are willing to spend a bit more, you can go with Chrysler’s other model, the Pacifica. One of the coolest features of the 2017 model is the hybrid drivetrain. It allows you to go up to 30 miles on electric, before the vehicle automatically switches over to the V6 gasoline engine. For short trips and errands, there’s nothing more eco-friendly in the minivan category.

3. 2018 Volkswagen Atlas

Who says you have to buy a minivan when you have a family? Sure, the sliding doors are nice, but there are plenty of other options that are both green and spacious. The new Volkswagen Atlas is a great choice. It’s one of the most fuel-efficient third-row vehicles on the market. The four-cylinder model gets an estimated 26 mpg highway.

4. 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

While a minivan or SUV is ideal – and necessary if you have more than two kids – you can get away with a roomy sedan when you still have a small family. And while there are plenty of eco-friendly options in this category, the 2015 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid is arguably the biggest bang for your buck. It gets 38 mpg on the highway and is incredibly affordable.

5. 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel

If money isn’t an object and you’re able to spend any amount to get a good vehicle that’s both comfortable and eco-friendly, the 2017 Land Rover Range Rover Sport Diesel is your car. Not only does it get 28 mpg highway, but it can also be equipped with a third row of seats and a diesel engine. And did we mention that this car looks sleek?

Putting it All Together

You have a variety of options. Whether you want something new or used, would prefer an SUV or minivan, or want something cheap or luxurious, there are plenty of choices on the market. The key is to do your research, remain patient, and take your time. Don’t get too married to a particular transaction, or you’ll lose your leverage.

You’ll know when the right deal comes along, and you can make a smart choice that’s functional, cost-effective, and eco-friendly.

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How Climate Change Altered this Engineer’s Life



how climate change affect our lives
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By --

Living the life of an engineer likely sounds pretty glamorous: you are educated and highly regarded, typically have high paying gigs, and with the breadth of knowledge and array of fields of specialty, your possibility for jobs is usually immense.  But what if there was something else that needed your attention? Something bigger than just being an engineer, going to work every day and doing the same technical tasks typically associated with the profession?

For Kevin McCroary, that is exactly how it played out.  A successful engineer, gainfully employed in a prosperous job, a simple trip to the Philippines made him see that there was a bigger issue at hand than using his engineer training in a traditional profession.  This bigger issue was that of climate change.  And working as a volunteer for underprivileged children in the Philippines, he saw first-hand the extensive pollution and poverty that existed here and that impacted the livelihood of these kids and their families.

Upon returning home, from his trip to the Philippines he had a new perspective of the impact we as individuals and as humanity have on the earth, and more than that Kevin wanted to know more.  He started to do some research and study these human-environmental interactions, and shortly thereafter ended up in Greenland.  There, he spoke to a man who had lost his home in a tsunami, and, who, through consistent weather tracking could indeed confirm that the current weather trends were “strange:” there was undeniably a general warming tendency happening in the arctic, causing an array of negative effects.

The combination of these observations, as well as his own research, led Kevin to conclude that something had to be done.  With that in mind, he launched his project Legend Bracelet.  The mission is simple: create a reminder of the legacy we are leaving behind.  As individuals and as humanity, we are leaving behind an imprint on the earth, and the magnitude of it is something that needs to be brought to the forefront of public awareness.  The idea is to have a bracelet that can serve as a daily reminder of the impact on the earth that each of us can have every day, regardless of how big or small.  The bracelet has two capsules: the first is filled with sand or earth, and the second is empty.  As the owner, you are to fill the empty one with your own earth, carrying it with you as a reminder and symbol of your connection and commitment to helping look after our environment.

We are all impacted by climate change, and we all have a responsibility to help.  And it can start with something as simple as putting on a bracelet.  Support Kevin on his Kickstarter campaign for Legend Bracelet, tell others about it, or take action in your own way and play your part in slowing down the effects of climate change.  You may think “but I’m just one person!” You are indeed.  But so is he.  Every change starts with one.

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