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Scotland Is Getting Cosy On Low-Carbon Renewable Energy

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New figures by the Energy Saving Trust has found that Scottish homes and businesses are realising the benefit of renewable heat.

Energy Saving Trust, on behalf of the Scottish Government, estimate that last year saw the largest annual increase in renewable heat output since measurement began in 2008 – up by over 1,100 GWh in a single year.

In 2015, the proportion of non-electrical heat demand generated in Scotland from renewable sources is expected to be at least 5.3%, up from 3.8% in 2014 and a continuation of year-on-year increases since 2008/2009.The majority of the increase in output has come from large commercial sites installing biomass and combined heat and power systems and from installations supported by the non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive.

However, renewable heat capacity in homes, including small-scale biomass as well as other increasingly popular technologies such as heat pumps, has also risen – with capacity growing by a very impressive 44% between 2014 and 2015.

Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, Paul Wheelhouse, said:

“With Autumn well underway, and the weather getting noticeably cooler, families and businesses across Scotland will, no doubt, be considering turning on their heating for the cooler weather ahead. “Heat makes up more than 50% of Scotland’s current energy consumption and approximately 47% of our emissions – the largest source for both.

“That is why these record-breaking figures are so encouraging. They show that programmes such as the District Heating Loan Scheme, the Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme and the Home Energy Scotland renewables loans scheme are inspiring people to harness renewable energy to heat their homes and their businesses. These and our other programmes support the uptake of the GB wide Renewable Heat Incentive scheme, in which Scotland continues to punch above its weight.

That is not to say we should be in any way complacent.

“We have a target of 11% of non-electrical heat demand from renewable sources by 2020 and while these figures show we are making great progress in both reducing our demand for heat and increasing the output of renewable heat we need to do more. So, these figures also highlight there is much more work to do to reduce demand, supply heat more efficiently and increase the role renewable heat plays in Scotland’s energy mix. That’s why we continue to develop new and existing avenues of support in this important area and this will be reflected in our forthcoming Energy Strategy.”

Responding to news from the Scottish Government that last year saw the largest annual increase in renewable heat output since measurement began in 2008;

Stephanie Clark, Policy Manager at Scottish Renewables, said: “The marked increase in heat being delivered by renewable sources shows that progress is being made towards our 2020 target – a vital goal when heat makes up more than half of the energy we use in Scotland.

“Reducing the amount of heat we use is a first step to tackling emissions linked to the sector, and these figures also show welcome headway is being made in improving the energy efficiency of Scotland’s buildings.

“If we are to continue this positive progress it’s important that the UK Government clarify the future of the Renewable Heat Incentive, through which technologies like heat pumps are supported, and that public awareness of renewable heat solutions increases.”

Welcoming the publication of the Scottish Government’s renewable heat statistics, WWF Scotland director, Lang Banks, said 

“With close to half of Scotland’s energy use and climate change emissions coming from our heating needs, it’s imperative that Scotland makes progress in decarbonising our heat generation. Whilst it’s welcome to see that we’ve broken the 5% barrier for generating heat from renewable sources, we’ve still got a long way to go if we are to secure all the benefits of a transition to a zero-carbon economy.

“This news shows that there’s an expanding market for renewable heat in Scotland. We know from opinion polling that more action to expand renewable heating in Scotland would be popular with the public, with almost two-thirds of people saying they want to see the Scottish Government do more. [2] That’s why we’re calling for Scottish Ministers to go further, using a Warm Homes Act in Scotland to establish a regulatory framework that supports the growth of renewable and district heating.”

Energy

Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?

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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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