A new European phrase of world-leading collaborative development, research and demonstration (R&D) programme – the Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) was revealed by The Carbon Trust. This programme is designed to impact the levelised cost of energy (LCoE) from offshore wind and improve efficiency, availability and reduce costs of existing and future offshore wind farms.
Nine of the largest offshore wind developers in Europe: DONG Energy, EnBW, E.ON, Iberdrola, RWE, SSE, Statkraft, Statoil and Vattenfall have signed up to the programme. Over the next four years the developers will collectively invest at least £6.4 million, boosted by a further £1.5 million from the Scottish Government, to bring new innovations to market that will help to ensure that the typical cost of offshore wind is below £100 per MWh by 2020.
The success of the OWA over the past eight years has been based on an exemplary industry-led RD&D model where the priorities are set by developers to facilitate targeted and efficient commercialisation of new innovations. The projects undertaken by the OWA programme are selected to impact the LCoE by improving performance in offshore wind farm design, construction and operation.
The Scottish Government’s Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, Paul Wheelhouse said:
“The Offshore Wind Accelerator (OWA) is a collaborative programme run by the Carbon Trust, which aims to reduce the cost of offshore wind through technological innovation.
“Previous Scottish Government support for the OWA has helped develop new ideas in key areas of importance to companies operating in Scottish waters and I have no doubt this new funding will help firms to continue this important work.
“Only last month, around 350 jobs were announced as a direct result of the construction of the Beatrice Offshore Windfarm, highlighting the massive opportunity offshore wind presents to Scotland and the Scottish economy.
“Innovation in renewables also continues to contribute to the excellent progress we are making on reducing greenhouse gas emissions after the recent announcement that Scotland has exceeded our 2020 target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 42% six years early.”
Tom Delay, Chief Executive Officer, the Carbon Trust commented:
Over the last five years the cost of energy from offshore wind has decreased significantly, largely driven by a combination of innovation, risk reduction and increased deployment rates.
“But we need to continue building on this success by getting the right solutions into market quickly to put offshore wind on the path to cost competitiveness by 2020. The Offshore Wind Accelerator has an impressive track record, providing an effective mechanism for public and private sector to work together to meet the cost reduction challenge head on. Its success lies in the sharing of the risks and rewards of innovation through industry-led collaborative research, development and deployment.
The Scottish Government’s £1.5m investment into the programme, alongside nine of the biggest developers in Europe, shows there is real confidence in the ability of the OWA to continue to deliver cost reductions. We hope this will enable us to leverage further public and private investment into the programme, so our cost reduction ambitions for this important sector can be surpassed.”
Dirk Güsewell, Senior Vice President Generation Portfolio Development of EnBW Energie Baden-Württemberg AG commented:
“Innovation and cost reduction are key for the future of offshore wind. EnBW believes that the OWA consortium is an excellent industry-driven vehicle to further assess which technologies will lead to these objectives.”
Jonathan Cole, Iberdrola Offshore Managing Director said:
“It is vital that the industry continues to work together in order to drive down costs in offshore renewables. The North Sea is the world’s leading offshore wind development area, and the collaboration between large international developers here is a welcome move towards securing and delivering affordable low carbon energy generation.”
The OWA programme, originally created in 2008, has been a driving force behind a range of new innovations such as; developing and demonstrating new foundations; the development and adoption of 66kV cabling; improving wind resource measurement and modelling, and new innovative access vessels. Over the last eight years the OWA has delivered over 125 projects, ranging from feasibility studies to multimillion-pound, full-scale technology demonstrations. Today, many of the innovations commercialised through the OWA are being deployed by developers building Round 2 and Round 3 wind farm sites, and are delivering direct cost reductions now.
Following a record year for installations in 2015 the European Wind Energy Association estimates that over 20GW of offshore wind will be deployed in Europe by 2020. In additional to benefits of creating a low carbon secure source of electricity, offshore wind also offers greater economic and employment opportunities. Estimates from the International Renewable Energy Agency show that jobs in the European offshore wind industry increased twelvefold between 2007 (6,370) to 2014 (75,000).
OWA partners including RWE, E.ON, Vattenfall and Statoil were among a group of companies who published an open letter earlier this month, outlining a pledge to cut the cost of offshore wind farms to make them a competitive source of electricity generation. The declaration set out an ambition to reach €80 per megawatt hour by 2025.
Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?
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?
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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!