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Use it or Lose it: UK has Offshore Assets and Opportunity to Meet Zero Carbon Ambitions



The UK Government is planning tighter climate laws to deliver net zero carbon emissions – but how? A new report shows how the UK’s unique assets can be used to support this ambition cost-effectively through carbon capture and storage (CCS) but warns that this opportunity must be grasped now, with strategic policy to regain lost momentum.

As MPs and external stakeholders meet today [Wednesday] at Westminster to discuss the potential for industrial CCS in the UK – and in light of the Government’s development of its 2050 industrial decarbonisation roadmaps – the report presents the expertise and opportunities that can create a viable route to a zero carbon economy. These include:
  • Retaining skilled jobs and creating new industries at clusters of industrial emitters around the UK coastline, with plans already developed for shared-cost CCS “hubs”
  • A globally significant and exceptional North Sea geological asset for CO2 storage
  • An oil and gas workforce that routinely delivers high-quality infrastructure and could build a new offshore CCS industry serving the UK and Europe
  • An enviable research & development community with its amassed knowledge and strategic international collaborations
  • Large-scale CCS projects poised to decarbonise industry and power generation
The report also highlights the potential cost to taxpayers of delaying CCS deployment, the loss of crucial infrastructure through North Sea decommissioning and the risk of a “brain drain” of expertise to countries where CCS is already being delivered.
The Scottish Carbon Capture & Storage (SCCS) report derives from its 2015 annual conference, which brought together policymakers, industry, academia and representatives from Scottish, UK and European governments. It shows how low-carbon, competitive economies can be rapidly and uniquely assisted by CCS.
The authors have called for a reset of objectives and ambition in the UK, and recommend a concerted effort by industry, government and academia in four key areas:
Delivering industrial CCS: Many industries can decarbonise at a low capture cost, but that still outweighs the current carbon price. If the UK Government wants to retain industry, it should develop funding mechanisms for CCS as a top-up to the carbon price. An East Scotland Low Carbon Zone, potentially in partnership with Teesside, could provide industrial emitters with access to CO2 transport and storage facilities and support the creation of production hubs future-proofed against the rising cost of emitting carbon.
Genuinely CCS-ready power: If gas-fired power generation forms a sizeable proportion of UK demand, in line with government policy, then future plants must be genuinely CCS-ready, unlike the simplistic assessments made now, and their siting assessed alongside the viability and cost of pipeline and/or shipping connections to suitable CO2 storage sites. The decommissioning of North Sea infrastructure means the door is closing fast on reusing equipment to access storage sites.
Clarity on cost: A correct statement of the cost of CCS occurs only when capture costs are separated from transport and storage. At present, the first CCS projects are expected to bear the full cost of infrastructure despite the fact that follow-on projects would benefit from this development. This creates an uneven playing field against other forms of low-carbon power, such as offshore wind or nuclear.
A Scottish CO2 Hub: The development of a CO2 collection and storage hub in Scotland could unlock a CCS industry serving both the UK and Europe, providing access to extensive storage in the Central North Sea at low financial risk. By using cost-effective shipping, this can support the collection-and-dispatch hubs envisaged for mainland Europe and Scandinavia, and could be expanded sequentially on a project-by-project basis.
Professor Stuart Haszeldine, SCCS Director, said: “We must never lose sight of our ultimate goal – a zero carbon future for the UK as part of international efforts to contain global warming. We welcome the UK Energy Secretary’s recent commitment to tightening climate law to enable this ambition, but these good intentions will hit a significant problem if we delay the deployment of CCS any further. The stark reality is that net zero carbon is unachievable without CCS.
“In the UK, we have an enviable set of unique offshore assets that, if used now rather than decommissioned, will deliver a least-cost pathway to a competitive, low-carbon economy. Any delay risks creating a considerable burden for UK taxpayers further down the line, as well missing the opportunity to build a homegrown CCS industry that can support the climate actions of other countries.
“The progress and potential of CCS in the UK is much more than a government competition. Our report describes why we need to get one of the most obvious and effective climate change tools back on track and highlights the strengths and opportunities that the UK – and Scotland, in particular – possesses.”


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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