Onshore wind: Speed and scale are essential

Onshore wind: Speed and scale are essential

Onshore wind: Speed and scale are essential!

Onshore windfarms in Scotland must be built bigger if the country is to move away from a dependency on oil and gas, the Greens have demanded, reported the Daily Record. The Green party shared a letter with the paper that they and the leaders of Scotland’s other main political leaders had received from some of the leading companies involved in the renewables sector, which blames restrictive planning laws from allowing taller turbines to be constructed. Energy giants ScottishPower, SSE and EDF are among those warning that Scotland could be left behind much of Europe when it comes to harnessing the potential of onshore wind energy.

In an interview with Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport, Michael Matheson, published on 1 July by reNEWS in their subscription-only newsletter: “Regulators such as NatureScot, the former Scottish Natural Heritage, and local authorities may be handed extra resources to push through developments deemed vital to the green pledge according to the Cabinet Secretary.” Adding: “The minister is considering the changes as part of the ongoing National Planning Framework (NPF4) review into Scotland’s long-term strategy for sustainable infrastructure development. A draft is due later this year.”  Mr Matheson was quoted as saying “If there are particular pinch points in the decision-making process that need to be addressed then the NPF4 process will help us in flushing some the that out…”

Safety is vital too

Formed in April 2019 – with a current membership of 18 Tier 1 members and 40 Tier 2 members – SafetyOn, the health and safety organisation for the onshore wind sector has launched its inaugural data report. The organisation provides leadership in health and safety for the industry and ensures transparency about the industry’s Health and Safety performance, as well as assisting industry stakeholders to see that key emerging risks are mitigated through co-operation and shared learning.

The inaugural report presents the analysis of the quarterly data returns submitted by members who experienced incidents during 2020 and serves to highlight key risk areas that can then inform SafetyOn’s future work programme.

In this first report, 6,971,142 worked hours were reported with a total of 532 incidents. The incident data has been reviewed and analysed across the following categories:

  • project status (i.e., development, construction, operation)
  • nature of work (i.e., routine maintenance, access and egress, electrical systems, etc)
  • nature of response and actual consequence (i.e., emergency response medical evacuation, medical treatment, lost work day incident, etc)
  • by body part injured (i.e., hand, head, back, leg, foot, etc)

Of the reported incidents, 455 (86%) took place on an operational onshore wind farm, with 62 (12%) on a wind farm under construction, 13 (2%) on a site under development and 2 (0.4%) whilst working from home. The key risk areas identified were incidents during routine maintenance, incidents during access/egress, and incidents when working with electrical systems, with 126, 84 and 50 incidents reported respectively.

Geothermal energy moves up the agenda

Congratulations to Geothermal Engineering Ltd (@GELtd) whose #uniteddownsgeo site near Redruth in Cornwall (once a global mining capital) were in the news explaining their power plant will be producing electricity and heat by next year. Quite rightly The Guardian acknowledged the “decade of hard graft – and some bold, imaginative thinking” explaining that: “A plume of steam finally exploded into the clear Cornish air, a signal of what is being heralded as a breakthrough for an energy project that taps into the hot rocks of the far south-west of Britain.” A great diagram accompanies the story.

Ryan Law, MD of GEL has already agreed to provide an update at All-Energy 2022 (if you are interested in speaking you will find the Call for Speakers open). His company now has plans to build four more sites in Cornwall by 2026

Marine renewables – much in the news

Is it our imagination or are there much more positive vibes about marine renewables – primarily tidal stream and wave power?

Last week started with Members of the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee travelling to Orkney to visit the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) and gather further evidence on renewable energy in Scotland. A report on their findings will make recommendations to UK Government this summer ahead of November’s COP26 UN Climate Conference in Glasgow.

The Committee held an oral evidence session in Kirkwall to discuss marine renewable energy specifically, as well as wind energy, grid networks and innovation in energy systems. The livestream recording of the oral evidence session is available on the UK Parliament website.

Orbital Marine Power used a suitably upbeat Tweet to spread word of the visit: 


There was buoyant news too from Scotland’s Nova Innovation and France’s Sabella who have signed an MoU to “accelerate development” of tidal energy sites the companies are developing; they will combine expertise to “drive rapid scale up” of installed capacity in the UK & France.

Dutch tidal energy company Tocardo and U.S.-based marine energy developer C-Power have made it to the Greenbackers Investment Capital’s final list of technology start-ups to take part in an innovative six-month international investment programme.

It was only recently that The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited EMEC; now HM The Queen, accompanied by HRH The Princess Royal has seen AWS’s wave device on display at the Edinburgh Climate Change Institute at the University of Edinburgh. Watch a video of the visit here.

Decarbonisation – the BBC dives in

In a week when the BBC has removed an educational page laying out the “benefits” of climate change after a furious online reaction, it seemed to suddenly take to renewable energy and decarbonisation like the proverbial duck to water!

BBC Sounds featured a fascinating BBC World Service ‘Witness History’ 9-minute interview with @HenrikStiesdal, that he drew attention to via LinkedIn and Twitter, saying it was: “A nice, small piece on the BBC regarding the first offshore wind farm at Vindeby, Denmark.” It’s more than that, it is a superb tribute to the great wind pioneer, and provided an insight into his life building his first turbine as a teenager and then the steps he has taken – and we all know there is more, much more, to come from him.

Last Thursday evening there were two BBC Radio 4 back-to-back programmes that demonstrated the corporation’s decarbonisation interest. The first ‘Rolling out Electric Vehicles’  was on The Bottom Line. Earlier in the day Nissan announced details of a new battery “gigafactory” that will enable its Sunderland car plant to massively increase production of electric vehicles and become the largest battery gigafactory in the UK; and the UK government is committed to ensuring that no new vehicles running on petrol or diesel will be sold after 2030.

“The electric transport sector will play a crucial role in tackling climate change” explained host Evan Davis on The Bottom Line. But are we on track to hit these targets? Can EVs deliver the same reliable services as combustion engine vehicles and reduce ‘range anxiety’? Does the rolling out of this transition have consumers convinced? His guests Lex Hartman, CEO of Ubtricity; Toddington Harper, CEO of GridServe; and Tanya Sinclair, UK & Ireland Policy Director, Chargepoint supplied the answers.

Next the Radio 4 schedule was ‘Inside Science’. Sandwiched between gene therapy and watermelons, wild flowers and pollinating insects the programme looked at heat pumps, explaining that in the near future they may replace domestic gas boilers. Visiting a district heating system in London that is already installing the pumps in a scheme which should see 50% reductions in their carbon emissions, ‘Inside Science’ listeners visited the Citigen site to see how the plan would work. The potential for domestic heat pump roll out was discussed with Simon Evans from Carbon Brief.

The day before, Radio 4’s ‘Money Box’ focused on ‘Community Energy Projects’ asking “would you like to generate your electricity through a local, renewable energy project rather than buying it from a big supplier?” In last Wednesday’s episode, Adam Shaw and guests  Jodie Giles, head of community and local energy at Regen (who featured in the All-Energy and Dcarbonise webinar ‘Community and Local Energy: A Beacon for 2030’), Tanuja Pandit, director of Power Up North London, and Steve Shaw, the director of Power for People considered the costs and practicalities of setting up and running community-led energy projects, and giving their views on whether such initiatives make financial and environmental sense.

So, what was the educational page and the reaction all about? BBC Bitesize, its website for schoolchildren, claimed warmer temperatures “could lead to healthier outdoor lifestyles” and that a benefit of climate change could mean easier access to oil in Alaska and Siberia. You can no longer read it on the BBC’s website but obviously there is more in The Guardian report.

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