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Innovative turbine to be trialled in Scotland

Scotland has stepped up its ambitious bid to become 100% renewable by 2020 with the announcement of a wind turbine trial, but Alex Blackburne explains how the wind power sector has been branded as “useless” by a scornful member of the royal family.

With its blustery coastlines and its mountainous landscape, Scotland is arguably one of the most ideal places in the world to become a trendsetter in wind power.

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Scotland has stepped up its ambitious bid to become 100% renewable by 2020 with the announcement of a wind turbine trial, but Alex Blackburne explains how the wind power sector has been branded as “useless” by a scornful member of the royal family.

With its blustery coastlines and its mountainous landscape, Scotland is arguably one of the most ideal places in the world to become a trendsetter in wind power.

Its historical dependence on oil might soon be a thing of the past, with the Scottish Government announcing plans for its energy to be 100% renewably-sourced by 2020. Certainly a bold statement, and one that has the potential to completely revolutionise the country, making it a frontrunner in the global shift away from fossil fuel consumption.

In line with this, the Government has revealed its plans to pioneer a large, two-bladed wind turbine off the coast of Methil in Fife.

The turbine, bigger than the regular models and with four times the energy producing capacity at six megawatts, will be positioned 20 metres offshore, near Fife Energy Park, and is set to be made by a Dutch company, 2B Energy.

In 2010, an independent report on offshore wind potential, Offshore Valuation, described the North Sea’s potential to be the ‘Saudi Arabia of renewable energy’. The Scots appear to have seized this possibility by both horns (or blades).

Energy minister in the Scottish Parliament, Fergus Ewing, praised the project, saying that it is a positive step for not only the country but for Europe as well.

Innovative companies deciding to test their new ideas in Scotland is further evidence of our reputation as a place to develop and deploy all forms of new green energy technologies”, Ewing said.

We are working to create the optimum conditions for low carbon investment to ensure we remain well-placed to become an international hub for low carbon expertise and a green energy powerhouse for Europe.”

Just a day after the Scottish Government’s announcement, though, the plans were granted a somewhat crushing blow from one of the Britain’s most senior figureheads.

The Sunday Telegraph, amongst others, reported how Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh (of all places), had made a scathing, sweeping attack on wind power – not specifically 2B Energy’s proposed project – labelling all turbines as “useless” and “a disgrace”.

The Duke, somewhat renowned for his brash, blunt opinions, offered his view on the matter to Esbjorn Wilmar, managing director at wind turbine producers Infinergy.

Somewhat taken aback by the out-of-the-blue verbal damning aimed in his direction, Wilmar then tried to explain to the Duke that wind farms were very cost-effective, to which he received the reply, “You don’t believe in fairy tales do you?

Sadly, Prince Philip’s views sum up the thoughts of many people who have objections to the growth of onshore wind farms (“not in my backyard“), matching hostility to subsidising any form of renewable energy and ignoring the direct and eternal costs of fossil fuels.

Although currently not as cheap to produce energy as fossil fuels, the overwhelming advantage of wind power, and the reason we need to put money and development into the sector, is that it is renewable and will always, always be readily available.

There will always be a place in the UK where the wind blows. There is also no need to fight wars in distant lands to protect our wind resource – unless the Norwegians get uppity.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change produced a report in 2010, detailing the cost of various methods of electricity generation in the UK. It found that in the long-term, wind power will be cheaper and more cost-effective than fossil fuels.

The Duke of Edinburgh also told Wilmar that the wind power sector “would never work as [the turbines] need back-up capacity”. Whilst this is true, we know that there will always be wind somewhere in the UK and at high altitudes.

Scotland’s innovativeness in striving for a completely renewable future is encouraging. It’s just a shame that people in such a position of authority and respect – like Prince Philip – feel they have to offer groundless opinions of what is one of the planet’s biggest hopes for a green, sustainable and ethical future.

His view is perhaps even more surprising when you consider that the Crown Estate (profit £231m, 2010/11), the income from which the monarch surrenders in return for the civil list (£7.9m), will generate some £100m extra per year from offshore wind farms, over the next few years. Less a case of “stay away from my estate” than “come on in, the water’s lovely.”

Investment in renewable energy companies, such as wind power, is the key to this. If you would like to invest, ask your financial adviser, if you have one, or complete our online form and we’ll connect you with a specialist ethical adviser.

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Environment

How Climate Change Altered this Engineer’s Life

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how climate change affect our lives
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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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Lifestyle

5 Things You Can Do Yourself to Improve the Value of Your House

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home renovation and improvement
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Whether you want to own it or list it, every once in a while, a house needs a facelift. This will not only improve quality of your life but will capitalize your home’s value significantly, too.

The best way to improve home value by yourself is to upgrade only what is necessary and nothing more. For instance, why would you buy a new bathroom door when a little retouch and a coat of fresh paint will suffice? By taking this approach, you are allowing yourself to make several small improvements instead of venturing just one or bigger ones. Select projects thoughtfully and know when you should stop.

Pitch in for the kitchen

If you really want a return on investment one day, start in the kitchen. By many, the kitchen still represents the heart and the soul of the house, the central hub of a property and it will all on its own add colossal value to your home. Moreover, the kitchen can be a breaking point in selling the house, so you should not hold on to your wallet in this area.

There are many little things you can do to spruce up the overall image of your kitchen. You may paint the kitchen cabinets, replace old door handles, add additional storage space with a sliding wall or a kitchen island if there is enough room for it. In addition, you may open the living space up by taking a kitchen wall down. Possibilities for do-it-yourself are many.

Add an attic or a basement bedroom

Properties are usually valued by two things: land size and the number of bedrooms. The price range between a three to four-bedroom home is two to four hundred thousand. Since you can’t change the size of your land, you can at least increase the number of bedrooms.

If you are prepared to go full-scale, converting the attic or the basement into the bedroom is another especially favored project that will by far boost up your home’s value once you decide to put it on the market. Until you decide to list it you will enjoy in your own extra space for entertainment, living, sleeping, playing, exercising, or whatever you fancy.

Transformation with paint

If your walls have scrapes and stained paint, a vintage color or shabby wallpaper, several cans of paint can make a striking distinction. In order to increase the value of your home, it is recommended to go with neutral colors that will unify the whole house and make the space visually bigger.

transformation with paint

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Bottom line, nothing can transform a home like a cast of fresh new paint. It is the number one way to beef up a property value of any budget. Additionally, painting the house is still one of the easiest, fastest and highest value drivers.

Secure with style

All of your effort and money would be wasted if you can’t protect the investments you made. A good security door costs as little as a few hundred dollars but if it saves you just once from being robbed it instantly pays itself off. People avoid putting security screens on windows because they mostly do not look stylish enough, but there are other options, such as installing shutters. There are so many elegant and cool shutter options that we found at Independent Blinds & Awnings that it’s really hard not to find something for you.

Basic maintenance for a worry-free mind

A clean house is a healthier house for you and your family. By making a clean house your number one on the list for improving, you accomplish a couple of things at once.

First, you stay on track with maintenance issues and, consequently you are able to recognize future problems before they become costly ones. Secondly, you don’t allow dirt and garbage to pile up over time. Thirdly, smudged, dirty windows can have a bad impact on the overall perception of the house. Same as eyes are windows to the soul, windows are for the home. Therefore, you need to wash them properly.

Spice up the landscaping

Big backyard is an all Australian dream and still, it is more often than not the most ignored area of the house. However, landscaping is really important as it frames a property from every corner.

Simple, low budget cosmetic changes in the front yard including installing garden beds, adding plants, pebbles or mulch, and paving or painting the front walls will positively lift the curb appeal as well as the property value. As for the backyard, you may span a lawn to create more open space for you and your family to move freely, cut and reduce unruly trees and vegetation, and fix the fence if needed.

Adding value to your home through a cosmetic or structural renovation is an actual way to quickly enhance your money invested in a property. In the end, you need to make sure that if you will continue to live in the house and renovate, that your renovations will contribute to a good lifestyle and that it will give the impression of a “ready to move in” property once you decide to list it.

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