Promising times for UK Offshore Wind

Promising times for UK Offshore Wind

There is a genuine feel good factor surrounding UK offshore wind at present.

The recent sector deal announcement provided a welcome boost – a validation that the sector has now reached maturity. It can still trumpet its green credentials but now offshore wind also represents a low cost, secure source of energy with the potential to create a significant number of skilled UK jobs and deliver tangible local economic benefit.

Realising the potential of the sector deal aspirations, however, relies on a certain level of activity – a pipeline of new offshore wind farm projects around the UK – with a focus on 2030, then 2050 and an overall ambition to lay the foundations for a sustainable sector at scale for the foreseeable future.

To that end, the new offshore wind Crown licensing rounds present a welcome fillip. These are coming forward in different guises:

  • First, we have the Extensions process. For this, the Crown Estate (CE) invited the owners of existing, operational projects in waters around England and Wales to apply for Crown rights to develop an adjoining extension project if they wished (up to the Megawatt capacity of the existing project). The process identified over 3GW of potential new capacity spread across eight proposed projects. These projects are being assessed as part of a plan level Habitats Regulation Assessment (HRA). If cleared to proceed, these projects will obtain options for lease from the Crown Estate before embarking on the project-specific consents processes. The outcome of the HRA is expected in early summer, with option awards soon thereafter.
  • Following a little way behind the extensions process is the CE’s new offshore wind licensing round (known as “Round 4”). The CE is identifying broad areas of the seabed within which it would be willing to lease options for wind development. A pre-qualification stage for potential bidders is then due to begin within the next couple of months. This will be followed by an invitation to tender phase, then a plan level HRA, with awards of options for lease due to be granted late next year. The Crown Estate has estimated that up to 7GW of new capacity could ultimately emerge from this process.
  • Running to a similar timeline is Crown Estate Scotland’s (CES) new offshore wind licensing round (known as “ScotWind”). CES will run a tender seeking applications for options for lease for offshore wind sites within Scottish waters. Awards of options will only be given inside areas identified by Marine Scotland as part of its sectoral marine plan process. CES and Marine Scotland broadly are running these processes in tandem to minimise the overall timescales. No gigawatt target has been set by CES, however there is a general feeling that the round could deliver more capacity than originally thought.

While we do not yet know the final details of the CE or CES licensing processes, it seems that eligibility and award criteria are likely to be subtly but materially different for both. That, together with the different physical characteristics of areas available, will present an interesting array of options for would-be bidders and a further welcome shot in the arm for the UK’s burgeoning offshore wind sector.

Scott McCallum is a partner in Shepherd and Wedderburn’s Clean Energy Group.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to Deliver Keynote Address at All-Energy / Dcarbonise 2019

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to Deliver Keynote Address at All-Energy / Dcarbonise 2019

Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon MSP will be delivering a keynote address in the opening plenary conference session on Wednesday 15 May at All-Energy, the UK’s largest renewable and low carbon energy exhibition and conference and the co-located Dcarbonise. The inaugural Dcarbonise is Scotland’s dedicated energy customer-focused event for low-carbon built environment and transport solutions.

The 19th All-Energy, and the co-located Dcarbonise, are being held at the Glasgow Event Campus (SEC) on Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16 May, bringing together some 7,000 participants from home and overseas; up to 250 exhibiting companies; and a packed multi-stream conference and seminar programme with more than 450 speakers. All elements of All-Energy and Dcarbonise – the exhibition, the conference and the Giant Networking Evening – are free to attend for all with relevant professional/business interests. Online registration is open at www.all-energy.co.uk

“We are delighted to be welcoming Scotland’s First Minister back to the show on opening morning,” says All-Energy’s Event Director, Jonathan Heastie of organisers, Reed Exhibitions. “This will be her third visit to All-Energy and is greatly appreciated by all. We know the Lomond Auditorium will be packed to the proverbial gunwales to listen to her.

“All-Energy is an event that buzzes with enthusiasm from exhibitors eager to do business and visitors just as eager to learn and to engage with exhibitors and conference speakers. We have a superb exhibitor list with a broad range of highly relevant exhibits, some very large and dramatic exhibits, and a superb conference line-up. The inaugural Dcarbonise, sponsored by the Scottish Government, the Energy Saving Trust and Zero Waste Scotland brings an extra dimension to the event. The First Minister’s presence will add to both the topicality and significance of the programme.”

Other speakers in the opening day plenary session will include Lord Provost Eva Bolander, Lord Provost of the City of Glasgow; Keith Anderson, CEO of ScottishPower (who will also chair the session); Councillor Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council; Chris Stark, CEO, Committee on Climate Change; and Professor Karen Turner, Director of the Centre for Energy Policy, University of Strathclyde.

After both days’ plenary session, the conferences for the two co-located events gets under way. Energy efficiency, low carbon heat and low carbon transport are the three pillars of Dcarbonise. The triumvirate of the Scottish Government, Energy Saving Trust and Zero Waste Scotland has a large central pavilion in the exhibition where 1-2-1 advice will be readily on offer, particularly to private sector landlords who face the challenge of ensuring that their property reaches EPC rating E (at least) by 1 April 2020.
All three pillars have full conference programmes, and, in the case of energy efficiency and low carbon heat, these include readily accessed seminar theatres on the exhibition show floor with a rolling programme of presentations. Other relevant conference sessions include those looking at low carbon transport under the Smart Urban Mobility Solutions ‘banner’; sustainable and smart cities; decarbonisation of industry; the ‘net-zero challenge’; and carbon capture and storage.
The All-Energy conference embraces all forms of renewable energy generation (bioenergy, hydropower, marine renewables; on- and offshore wind; and solar) as well as associated topics such as energy systems, energy storage, the grid; hydrogen; and finance and funding. UK Research and Innovation and Innovate UK have an extensive programme of conference sessions, many reflecting the aims of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, and an Investors Breakfast running during the two-day event. A POWERful Women networking lunch will be another feature of Day 2.

Further information

Shepherd and Wedderburn is All-Energy’s headline sponsor (other All-Energy sponsors include ScottishPower, Scottish & Southern Electricity Networks, Black & Veatch, Natural Power, Shell, Dieselec Thistle Generators, and Schneider Electric). All-Energy is supported by a long list of trade associations, government departments, professional bodies and learned societies, and is held in association with the Renewable Energy Association; Highlands and Islands Enterprise; Scottish Enterprise; Innovate UK; Sustainable Glasgow; and the Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group (AREG), with Glasgow as its Host City, and the Society for Underwater Technology as Learned Society Patron.

Dcarbonise is sponsored by the Scottish Government, Energy Saving Trust and Zero Waste Scotland, with E.ON as its seminar theatre sponsor.

Full information on exhibiting; sponsorship packages; the Giant Networking evening; the conference; accommodation and travel is available on the show’s website at www.all-energy.co.uk and www.dcarbonise.com.

Exhibitor Spotlight: Calor Gas – Specifying low-carbon LPG

Exhibitor Spotlight: Calor Gas – Specifying low-carbon LPG

Calor logo

The Government’s Clean Growth Strategy aims to decarbonise the UK through the 2020s, encouraging homeowners and business alike to benefit from low carbon fuel options, while meeting national and international commitments to tackle climate change.

This shift in Government policy considers the longevity and environmental impact of fuel choice. Essentially, in order to future-proof their energy, customers need to consider cleaner, lower carbon options.

Coupled with the recent Clean Air Strategy commitments; a further policy aim to ‘tackle all sources of air pollution, making our air healthier to breathe, protecting nature and boosting the economy’, it is clear that specifiers of heating and hot water systems need to be fully abreast of the low-carbon technologies available.

For Specifiers working with customers off the mains gas grid, there may be some concern about which boiler system will best suit these requirements, with oil, electricity, air source heat pumps and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) often considered.

Karl Bateman, National Specifier Manager at Calor details the benefits of LPG and in particular, the company’s new BioLPG fuel offer, and how these can help specifiers meet Government targets for low carbon opportunities.

Focus on greener technologies

LPG is already the lowest CO2 emitting fossil fuel available off grid and can offer up to 20 per cent lower carbon emissions than oil.[1]  Now, in support of a low carbon transition, Calor has brought BioLPG to market – a renewable fuel that can help cut carbon emissions further still.

BioLPG is currently available to rural homeowners and the transport sector, with plans underway to increase supply and infrastructure to support more consumers and businesses in the future, such as rural housing developers.

The fuel is created from a mix of renewable and waste materials and can reduce a customer’s carbon footprint by up to 38 per cent compared to heating oil.[2] What’s more, no retrofitting is required, meaning any LPG boilers installed now can be fuelled by BioLPG in the future.

“We have a brand vision to improve air quality and dramatically lower carbon impact by offering 100 per cent renewable energy solutions to our customers by 2040, and BioLPG is our first step on the journey.

“It’s classed as a drop-in fuel, so it’s compatible with current LPG heating systems and appliances, and the system requires no additional upgrades or adjustment,” explains Karl.

Specifying for homeowners

When it comes to fuelling a home, residents want a fuel that is affordable, reliable, flexible and familiar. It’s no surprise, then, that LPG fares so well and architects and specifiers can take advantage of its proven benefits when working on single-properties or larger-scale developments.

Traditional rural fossil fuels, such as oil or electric heating, can require significant additional energy-saving measures, such as solar PV, triple glazing or mechanical ventilation heat recovery, to meet Part L of the building regulations. This creates extra expense and additional pressures to ensure the development is meeting environmental compliance.

Alternatively, liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) does not require the same level of energy-saving measures to reach the desired SAP ratings, often requiring only low-cost modifications – such as the addition of hi-therm lintels or waste water heat recovery – to achieve compliance.

With electricity prices generally three to four times higher than gas prices per unit of energy[3], LPG offers a cost-effective option for homeowners, alongside its carbon credentials.  Payment is simple to manage, with companies such as Calor offering easy payment plans and the ability to manage an account online. In short, this means owners can spend less time on worrying about bills and instead focus on enjoying rural living.

LPG can be installed as a communal system on an off-grid development, with the gas stored centrally in underground tanks and distributed through a network of pipes to properties in the same way as mains gas. This creates a ‘metered estate’, with each resident billed separately for the gas consumed. The LPG supplier owns the central tanks, maintaining and refuelling automatically as necessary.

The versatility of a fuel is another key factor. Because it is just like having mains gas, LPG is perfectly suited to providing heating and hot water, as well as a fuel for cookers and gas fires. LPG provides an instant, controllable flame for cooking, with the additional reassurance that even in the event of a power cut, appliances running off gas will not be affected.

Specifying for business

According to statistics gathered by BEIS, non-domestic buildings account for 12 per cent of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions. If the UK is to meet its carbon reduction targets, then every sector must be closely examined for possible savings.

Heating poses its set of challenges for each of the non-domestic sectors – whether public, business or commercial. However, LPG can offer a logical energy solution for any building based off the mains gas grid.

As well as being the lowest off-mains carbon-emitting fossil fuel available on the market, LPG emits far fewer harmful nitrogen oxides (NOx) than oil, kerosene or coal fired heating systems[4].

Industrial businesses are being encouraged to invest in low carbon and renewable technologies as a way to reduce environmental impact.  The latest government statistics, for example, show the UK’s installed capacity for renewables grew by almost 14 per cent in 2015[5].

In order to make sure buildings have continual access to heating and hot water, a practical option is to partner some renewable technologies with a back-up fuel supply, such as LPG.

LPG can be used to power a range of renewable hybrid technologies, such as gas absorption heat pumps or mini combined heat and power systems. For those rural businesses already working hard to cut their emissions but who cannot compromise on their process or building’s heat demands, it makes sense to partner with the lowest carbon fuel available.

In conclusion

It is imperative that the UK achieves urgent and drastic cuts in carbon emissions, and Calor has demonstrated its capability and commitment to meet the carbon challenge with the launch of BioLPG.

Architects and specifiers working with self-builders, as well as designing homes for larger-scale developments, can take advantage of Calor’s latest CPD course, on the benefits of its BioLPG fuel, which is accredited by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).

As a RIBA-certified presentation, the course enables attendees to continue their professional development, while explaining the opportunities available to help homeowners living off the mains gas grid cut their carbon emissions significantly. This includes help and guidance on how to specify BioLPG.

To learn more about BioLPG register to attend www.all-emergy.co.uk/register and meet the team.

Links:

[1] LPG’s Carbon Footprint Relative to Other Fuels: A scientific review, page 6 http://www.shvenergy.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/atlantic_consulting_scientific_review_carbon_footprint_june_2009.pdf

[2] Greenhouse Gas savings for BioLPG vary according to the feedstock used; the more waste residues used the higher the carbon savings.  Based on the feedstocks used in Calor BioLPG the minimum carbon savings that would be made will be 15% and up to 32% (based on a blend of 60% BioLPG and 40% conventional propane) compared to the European approved Renewable Energy Directive Fossil fuel comparator. Feedstocks used in the production of Calor BioLPG by NESTE are verified with International Sustainability and Carbon Certification

[3] Which? Energy Review, Electric Central Heating, http://www.which.co.uk/reviews/home-heating-systems/article/home-heating-systems/electric-central-heating

[4] Combustion of fuels and nitrogen oxides (NOx) emission http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/nox-emission-combustion-fuels-d_1086.html

[5] Gov.UK, Renewables, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/556266/Renewables.pdf

Registration open for All-Energy and co-located Dcarbonise

Registration open for All-Energy and co-located Dcarbonise

It’s ‘all systems go’ for the 19th All-Energy, the UK’s largest renewable and low carbon energy exhibition and conference, and the new co-located Dcarbonise 2019. Both will be held at Glasgow’s SEC on Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16 May.  Free registration for all elements of the two-day event is now open at www.all-energy.co.uk/register for all with relevant business/professional interests. There is seamless access between both exhibitions and all the conference streams and all exhibitors and visitors to both events are invited to the traditional Giant Networking Evening.

As All-Energy and Dcarbonise Event Director, Jonathan Heastie of Reed Exhibitions, who own and organise the duo of events, explained: “All-Energy focuses on its renewable power heritage with a large exhibition hall packed with innovative solutions for the challenges facing every sort of renewable energy development at home and overseas. As ever, the buzz, the enthusiasm and the sense of business being done will be tangible.

“Dcarbonise, with its strap line ‘a carbon-neutral future stars here’, is Scotland’s only dedicated event for low-carbon built environment and transport solutions. Sponsored by the Scottish Government, Energy Saving Trust and Zero Waste Scotland, it is aligned to the Scottish Government’s Energy Efficient Scotland programme.

“Dcarbonise focuses on the solutions and advice needed to improve the energy efficiency of existing buildings and generating low carbon heat,” he added. “One group targeted this year is landlords, who are tasked with ensuring any new tenancy has an EPC of at least band E by 1 April 2020.

“Naturally low carbon transport is also under the Dcarbonise banner, with a display of low carbon vehicles and smart transport technologies, including an ‘arrive and drive’ facility where visitors can test drive low carbon vehicles.”

Packed conferences for both events

The All-Energy conference will feature streams or sessions on all forms of renewable energy (on- and offshore wind; solar; marine renewable energy; bioenergy – biomass, biogas, biofuel and energy from waste; and hydropower) as well as energy systems, the grid, energy storage, hydrogen, finance and funding, community and local energy and much more.

Energy efficiency in the built environment, low carbon heat, the circular economy, low carbon transport (in the Smart Urban Mobility Solutions conference stream), decarbonising of industry, carbon capture and storage, and ‘the net-zero challenge’ all appear under the Dcarbonise conference ‘umbrella’.

Innovate UK and UK Innovation and Research (UKRI) will play a key part in both events and throughout the conference. The grid showing what is happening when is at https://bit.ly/2YgoVm8

“We have more exhibition show floor theatres than ever before, they benefit from being in the heart of the busy event” Jonathan Heastie said. “Offshore wind, marine renewable energy, community and local energy, energy efficiency, low carbon heat, energy storage/ hydrogen all have dedicated theatres for either one or both days.

“Innovation will figure prominently in all of them – especially in the Innovation Theatre on 16 May when UKRI will focus on three strands of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund activity – robotics, smart local energy systems, and the creation of net zero industrial clusters. The new Research Hub Theatre will provide insight into the innovative work being done, in partnership with industry, within universities.

Looking back – and further information

Over 7,000 – including the First Minister of Scotland, the UK and Scottish energy ministers and Scottish transport minister attended in 2018.

All-Energy’s headline sponsor is Shepherd and Wedderburn and it is held in association with Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Renewable Energy Association, Aberdeen renewable Energy Group (AREG), Sustainable Glasgow, UK Innovation and Research and Innovate UK, with the Society for Underwater Technology as its Learned Society Patron.

The Smart Urban Mobility Solutions conference stream is supported by Transport Scotland and organised in association with the Smart Environment Forum of ITS United Kingdom

Further information at www.all-energy.co.uk and www.dcarbonise.com

An Offshore Wind Sector Deal: a revolutionary next step in powering the UK of the future

An Offshore Wind Sector Deal: a revolutionary next step in powering the UK of the future

Guest post by Scott McCallum, a partner in Shepherd and Wedderburn’s Clean Energy team.

The announcement of a new Offshore Wind Sector Deal on 7 March – putting the sector centre stage in the UK Government’s wider Industrial Strategy – is a huge boost for developers, their existing and prospective supply chain and for the UK economy at large.

The Offshore Wind Sector Deal sets out ambitious targets to generate more than 30% of Britain’s electricity from offshore wind by 2030, treble the number of UK jobs across the sector and its supply chains, and boost sector-related exports five-fold to circa £2.6 billion.

In return for a previously announced UK Government commitment to run regular Contract for Difference auctions (the government’s support mechanism for low carbon electricity generation) in May of this year and every two years thereafter, the sector has committed to invest up to £250 million building a stronger UK supply chain and increasing UK content.

This new deal is a welcome good news story, and is likely to be a major discussion topic at the 2019 All-Energy Exhibition and Conference, which is being held in Glasgow in May.

The UK Government now recognises offshore wind as a key driver of the wider industrial strategy, with the broader ambition to make the UK a global leader in the development of renewable energy technologies. We now have the bones of a credible and exciting plan for the creation of a significant number of highly skilled jobs and to export our expertise and technologies around the world.

The deal includes a commitment from the offshore wind sector to establish the Offshore Wind Growth Partnership (OWGP) with the aim of boosting productivity and the sector’s competitiveness. There is also an objective to increase the number of women in the offshore wind workforce to “at least a third” by 2030, up from 16% in 2018, and a longer-term ambition to increase that number to 40%.

The industry has met the challenge of making offshore wind generation cost competitive, with support costs having fallen by 50% between 2015 and 2017. Offshore wind projects are now projected to be cheaper to build than fossil fuel-fired power plants by 2020. Building on these successes, development globally is expected to grow at a rapid rate – 17% per annum between now and 2030 – from 22 gigawatts (GW) to 154GW of total installed power.

For the UK market, that potentially equates to more than £40 billion of additional infrastructure spend, with 30GW of deployed capacity by 2030.

The growth of the UK offshore wind sector over the past 15 to 20 years has been remarkable; as has the tumbling cost of developments, driven by sensible government support and ambitious and innovative developer commitment. As a result, we currently sit as a world leader in offshore wind generation.

While international competition is mounting, it now feels like we have all of the components necessary to build out a successful, sustainable sector that will continue to grow its UK market share and international reach for years to come.

Shepherd and Wedderburn is headline sponsor of the 2019 All-Energy Exhibition and Conference – the UK’s largest renewable and low carbon energy exhibition and conference, which takes place at Glasgow’s SEC on Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16 May 2019.

DNV GL: Green hydrogen ‘affordable’ by 2035

DNV GL: Green hydrogen ‘affordable’ by 2035

New report says growing renewables capacity will help unlock opportunities for the gas.

Hydrogen produced from electrolysis will be competitive with natural gas by 2035, according to DNV GL.

The company’s research paper ‘Hydrogen in the electricity value chain’ found that as capacity of renewables, such as offshore wind, increases, opportunities to use cheap electricity for green hydrogen applications will become feasible over the next 16 years.

According to DNV G,L three developments are responsible for bringing down the cost of hydrogen production using electrolysis.

The first is ongoing reduction in the cost of electrolysers, due to learning curve experiences and the cost of asset developments, expected to decrease.

Secondly, time periods when low or zero cost prices for electricity are available will increase due to the rise of renewables, generating a surplus of energy available to the power grid.

Finally, as schemes that essentially penalise carbon emissions become established, such as carbon taxes, industries are expected to see a shift away from carbon-heavy activities, which includes using gases for heating and processes.

DNV GL’s Energy Transition Outlook forecasts that solar PV, wind energy and hydropower will account for 80% of global electricity production in 2050.

As this capacity increases, opportunities to use its low-cost electricity are becoming feasible to avoid curtailment, initially conversion into heat, then – daily – battery storage and eventually conversion into green hydrogen, for applications including season storage.

DNV GL Energy technology and innovation vice president Lucie Craig said: “The prospect of delivering affordable hydrogen applications in the mid-term future provides a very encouraging signal to accelerate the global energy transition.

“Our research demonstrates that green hydrogen provides an optimal use for surplus electricity, which we expect to see in the years to come due to the rapid rise of renewable energy,” it said.

DNV GL’s researchers made a distinction between hydrogen production using surplus electricity generation from renewables and peak electricity generation, applying hydrogen as a fuel.

The distinction is based on the underlying belief that the role of hydrogen in the electricity system competes with alternative solutions to the challenges of the energy transition and the increasing penetration of variable renewable energy systems.

Ulrika Wising, Head of Solar and Battery Storage, Macquarie Group on industry, diversity and role models (or a lack thereof)

Ulrika Wising, Head of Solar and Battery Storage,  Macquarie Group on industry, diversity and role models (or a lack thereof)

Last Friday 8th March, also known as International Women’s Day, was a great opportunity to celebrate some of the leading ladies of our time, but also address some of the issues still facing those who identify as female within the energy industry and in wider society. We spoke to Ulrika Wising, Head of Solar and Battery Storage at Macquarie Group, about her experiences working in the energy industry, the things that helped motivate her, and her advice for future #WomenInEnergy.

Let’s start on a positive note – can you tell us what you love about your role/working in this industry?

The energy system needs to change in order to contribute to the decarbonisation of the world and it is very exciting to be part of that journey. It is also an industry that changes at an astonishing pace and as someone who embraces change, it is a very interesting place to be.

What kind of support have you found helpful in advancing your career?

Having senior people in the business sponsoring me has been critical to my career. Often these people have not been in my reporting line but rather people from other parts of the business that have been able to guide me and mentoring me on how to move forward.

Have you been involved in any initiatives for women working in the energy industry? Does your company run any? E.g. training or mentoring programmes.

I haven’t really been involved in any training or mentoring programmes specifically for women in the energy industry. I’m a member of a number of networking initiatives for women in the energy industry that I’ve found very useful.

Can you think of any female role models who were important in your career?

Unfortunately I haven’t had any female role models in my career in any of the companies I’ve worked in.

What do you think the energy community as a whole could do to go about moving to greater diversity?

Hire more senior women. Once there are senior women in an organisation, there are role models and other women think it’s possible and therefore strive to achieve the same

What would your advice be for the next generation of women entering the energy sector?

Seek out new opportunities, jump on them even if you don’t feel like you are meeting 100% of the criteria. Think about what you might be able to do in a new role instead of the criteria that might be more challenging.

Hear more from Ulrika in the All-Energy 2019 Conference – the programme for which will be available very soon.

Are we really ‘pale, male and stale’?

Are we really ‘pale, male and stale’?

Guest writer: Lindsay McQuade, CEO, ScottishPower Renewables

Historic stereotypes like these haunt so many of our industries, but a step-change in attitudes and cultures is driving real and lasting progress – and with it, a realisation that diversity and inclusion can actually boost the bottom line.

News that Scotland has been named the top performing region in the UK for gender equality in the workplace was published earlier this week. The Women in Work* index also highlights the year on year improvement for the UK as a whole.

Add this to a new sector deal for offshore wind which will not only deliver at least 30GW by 2030, but also seek to employ more than 33% women by the same date – more than double the current figure – it’s great news for our industry. And all this whilst helping pave the way to a cleaner, sustainable energy model at a time when the effects of climate change are in the headlines on a daily basis.

But are we doing enough to encourage and support young women to make the move, challenge old-skool convention and dream bigger?

As a female undergraduate, I’d never experienced being treated differently to my male peers. It was the late 90s when I started out in the banking and energy sectors that I spotted the difference. I was very clearly in the minority, often the only woman in the room. However during my 20 year career with ScottishPower, I’ve witnessed huge progress in promoting diversity in our industry, in part driven by a culture of speaking out and also spotting opportunities to support and coach colleagues to push harder, faster and think differently.

Now as the CEO of the UK’s leading wind energy developer, I’m acutely aware of my responsibility as a role model for other women across our industry and particularly those just setting out their career path at school. Encouraging girls and young women to maintain their interest in STEM subjects is vital – until the age of 6 or 7 there’s very little discernible difference in children’s interest in science and engineering. Something happens and we lose them – as a role model, I need to change that.

My young daughter is far more environmentally aware than I ever was as a child. The notion that you would dig something out of the ground and burn it to make electricity is downright alien to her. And that view is typical of her peers.  It’s her expectation that we are naturally environmentally conscientious – and rightly so.

That greater awareness of our existence on the planet, the impacts and consequences of our actions and the fundamental need for sustainable energy, need to be linked to career pathways. Driving the energy transition is just as much a responsibility for women as it is for men.

I want to do all I can to encourage and support our future engineers, lawyers, accountants, ecologists and economists and so many more professions on offer.

Tackling climate change makes business, societal and national economic sense and the transition to a sustainable energy future has to be part of this. The electrification of transport alone will help realise so many opportunities for our future generations.

At ScottishPower, we’re already investing a record £2bn in the UK this year to deliver reliable, clean and affordable power and building on our commitment to only generate 100% Green energy and with it, lasting career opportunities.

Who knows what our industry will be dubbed by the time we get to 2030 but it will most definitely be clean, keen and green!

*PwC, Women in Work Index, 2019

BIO:

Lindsay McQuade is the CEO at ScottishPower Renewables and responsible for the company’s fleet of over 2GW of renewable generation and future developments of wind and storage plant across the UK and Ireland. 

Diversifying the face of the energy sector

Diversifying the face of the energy sector

Whilst the energy industry undeniably has some way to go towards achieving diversity in job roles across the sector, there is  positivity out there. This comes in the form of existing initiatives for women and other minority groups, which aim to create a discussion around key issues, as well as promote visibility and encourage future generations. How interesting to think what the founders of the Women’s Engineering Society, a century ago, would make of it all!

Steps in the right direction

Friends of All-Energy, POWERful Women, is an initiative to advance gender diversity within the sector with a target of 40% middle management and 30% executive board positions to be female by 2030. They work by campaigning and reporting on diversity figures to create transparency within the industry. They also support women aspiring towards the next steps in their careers and provide practical support for parties trying to improve diversity in their organisation – business case evidence and “how to” guides”. You can hear from POWERful Women at All-Energy 2019, where, sponsored by ScottishPower Renewables, they will hold a networking lunch, following the success of the past years’ programmes.

Another initiative is the She is Sustainable conference, launched in February 2016, which has subsequently played host to women in sustainability to learn from each other and “talk about women and changing the world”. The discussions here have since spiralled into a new “Energy Pioneers” initiative in partnership with Green Alliance and UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC). This aims to empower women in the early stages of their career via networking, improving their awareness of opportunities and increasing their exposure and policy influence. They also run ‘She is Still Sustainable’ events for mid-career women.

In 2018, Energy UK showcased the steps that have been taken by the industry towards greater diversity in their “Diversity and Inclusion in Energy” publication. Their “Pride in Energy” network is a forum for LGBTQ+ members of the sector to address and discuss LGBTQ+ issues within the industry, as well as running several events throughout the year. Energy giants npower have also launched their own network for LGBTQ+ members of their community, as well as anyone who wants to take part in educating and reducing prejudice in the industry, fostering acceptance, and empowering LGBTQ+ employees and other parties throughout the business.

As we mentioned in our previous article, visibility is key and renewable. RenewableUK’s “Switch List” aims to promote just that. The list is a database of women working in the energy sector, which intends to make it easier for event organisers to identify female experts and invite them as speakers or panellists in order to raise their profile and inspire the next generation. They also pledged to feature at least 30% female speakers, panellist and chairs.

Speaking of inspiring a future workforce, EDF Energy’s “Pretty Curious” project aims to address the prospective significant skills shortage which will occur if the number of girls studying STEM subjects continues to fall. The programme raises awareness of the issue via advertising, introduces teens to real-life inspirational role models (Rey from Star Wars wouldn’t have had a chance at defeating Kylo Ren without an extensive engineering background) and creates empowering hands-on experiences, now reaching over 2,300 girls in the UK each year. 90% of the girls attending said that the events made STEM more interesting to them.

A world of change

It’s not just business in the UK which stands to progress from initiatives promoting diversity in energy. Looking further afield, Energy 4 Impact’s “Energy 4 Women” raises awareness of the socio-economic benefits of integrating women into energy value chains and campaigns for gender equality in development strategies, energy policies and energy access projects in Africa. They provide the right technology and business-savvy advice to female entrepreneurs in rural parts of the continent so they may increase access to energy in their local communities, where women and girls may often greatly feel the impact of energy poverty.

In Malawi, where only one in ten people has access to electricity but the sunshine is plentiful, you’ll meet the “Solar Mamas”. VSO International have curated a project to train local women (most of whom are unable to read or write) to become solar engineers. Over a six-month intensive course they learn building and wiring techniques for electrical components in order to build solar lanterns. Not only did the course teach them skills to light up their entire village and provide free solar electricity for almost 100 homes, it also massively boosted their confidence and independence.

The benefits don’t end there; one resident of a “solar” village has since been able to sew long after sunset, which has enabled her to expand her business and thus double her income whilst other women have started a mobile phone charging business. For many of the “Solar Mamas”, having a regular income is a life-changing means to better education and freedom.

It’s not all bad news

If we were to list all of the initiatives emerging for female and minority groups in the energy sector, we’d honestly be here for quite a long time, which shows that there are indeed steps being made in the transition to diversity. Keep an eye on our social media over the next few weeks as we’ll be shining a spotlight on some of the companies participating in All-Energy who are taking it upon themselves to change the face of the market internally.

How your organisation can lead the way on the other movement that matters

How your organisation can lead the way on the other movement that matters

The energy industry is all about transition; the transition to carbon-zero, sustainability…and gender equality. In an area so progressive in its technology and expertise, one would assume that its attitudes and advances towards gender equality would be parallel. However, a recent report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) told a different tale.

In a worldwide survey of individuals working in the renewable energy sector, 60% of males polled responded that they did not think females faced any gender-related barriers at all. On the other hand, 75% of women countered that they did face obstacles simply because they were female. It was perhaps the same men who expressed the belief that there was no gender pay divide, whereas a huge 71% of women said that they understood that men were better off.

The sheer numbers (or lack) of women working in renewables (32%) globally should speak volumes; however this is still considered favourable when compared to other sectors of energy production, such as oil and gas.

Director General of IRENA, Adnan Z. Amin said of the report:

Accelerating the deployment of renewables can alleviate poverty, create jobs, improve welfare and strengthen gender equality. Still, to fully realise this potential, the renewables industry has to tap a wider pool of talent — notably that of women, who have been largely underrepresented, depriving the energy transition of critical capacities. The renewable energy industry needs to engage and retain more women — and promote them — to fill its growing needs for skills. Their leadership and contributions will be crucial to ensuring that the energy systems of the future address the needs of modern societies and leave no one behind. If the global energy transformation is to drive sustainable growth and development, it needs to be inclusive in every sense. And women have to be part of it.”

In a world where funding or politics might hinder the progress of change, this is one transition for which we can all take responsibility. Awareness and understanding is key – after all, if you don’t even think you have a problem, how can you ever go about fixing it?

IRENA proposed a number of significant steps for organisations to take when planning their diversity strategy, first looking at the integration of women’s experiences, expertise, capacities and preferences into their framework from the start. At lower than 15% representation amongst the industry’s decision makers – only 8% of the top 80 UK energy companies have a female executive board member (POWERful Women), it is no wonder that there is a shortage of talent across businesses in the field. Having a say in shaping company policy will play a huge part in making the industry more accessible for prospective female employees. This joined with tailored training and skills development programmes will help to promote career opportunities and create entry points in a variety of levels and fields across the renewables value chain.

One such programme is POWERful Women founded by Baroness Verma and Laura Sandys with Ruth Cairnie, a former Shell Executive Vice President, as Industry Chair. The initiative’s target is 40% of middle management, and 30% of executive board positions, to be female by 2030 through supporting career paths and providing practical recommendations to increase diversity. Click here for a look back at POWERful Women’s networking session at All-Energy 2018 where we heard from ScottishPower CEO, Keith Anderson – a strong advocate of diversity in the energy sector, who emphasised that it was down to men as well as women to aid the transition.  There will be another POWERful Women gathering at All-Energy /Dcarbonise 2019 on 16 May.

Strengthening the prominence of females in diverse roles across the energy sector is fundamental to encourage and inspire future talent. Four-year old Hannah Summers made the news recently after she told her mother she wished she was a boy because she wanted to be a fire-fighter, thus ensuring female fire-fighters up and down the country came out in full force to show Hannah that girls could be fire-fighters too! Different job, but the same message: visibility is key. How will young women ever aspire to become the CEO of a multi-national energy company without ever seeing it as a possibility?

Watch this space for our next post where we’ll be showcasing some of the initiatives paving the way for a diverse energy future.