Not so far away renewables land …

Disney may have captivated audiences with their fantasy animation, SHREK, but it was Fergus Ewing MSP, Minster for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism, who captured the imagination of the audience at SHREC (Scottish Highland Renewable Energy Conference) on Thursday, 26 April 2012.  Taking place at the Drumossie Hotel, Inverness, the Minister announced a £23.5 million government loan scheme to assist communities and rural businesses throughout Scotland move their community energy renewable projects up to the planning stage.

The Community and Renewable Energy Loan Scheme (CARES) aims to support projects before they reach planning as this stage is considered too high risk for commercial loans.

The conference was also chosen to launch the Community Benefit Register. This is designed to help communities throughout Scotland maximise the rewards they receive from renewable energy developments.


A Grand Day Out!

It may have been a struggle to get there with the unexpected snowfall but attending the “Engaging Communities on Climate Change” course on the 3rd April proved to be well worth the adventure! Organised by “Talk Action” and facilitated by Chris Church, Chair of the UK Low Carbon Communities Network, it covered issues which included communication, connection and maintaining engagement.

Some of the points made included the importance of establishing and building trust and acceptance within a community along with a need to recognise that this takes time and that there will undoubtedly be obstacles.  It was also pointed out that we need to discover, recognise and learn what is already going on in a community and work with it.  Additionally an important part of communicating climate change is to offer a positive vision. Trying to sell this concept with disaster, guilt and fear will lead many people to “switch off” mentally.  We were also reminded that there is a need to monitor and evaluate our activities by setting out a series of measurable goals with regular assessment and feedback.

Group discussion and exercises added greatly to the experience of the day.

New science features and news site launched…..

A new website, ScienceOmega, aimed at showcasing high-quality scientific features and news has been launched and may be worth keeping an eye on.

It is boasting quite a list of contributors – Sir Patrick Moore, Executive Director of the Nobel Foundation Dr Lars Heikensten, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Dr Hamadoun Touré, President of the United States’ Council for Chemical Research (CCR) Dr Seth Snyder, Chief Executive of the Society of Biology Dr Mark Downs.

It is aiming to cover a very wide range of disciplines. Science Omega says it “has one overarching goal; to communicate high-quality scientific content to the largest possible audience. It is paramount that Science Omega contains content that will interest the scientific community. However, science cannot afford to be elitist, and we are convinced that if we present material in a clear and engaging way, it will prove fascinating for scientists and non-scientists alike.”

UK Energy Research Centre Summer School 2012

The UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) have announced revised dates for it’s eighth annual Energy Summer School; from 17th June – 22nd June 2012, at the University of Warwick. There will be 100 places available for UK and international students.

The School has been specifically designed to give second year PhD students an understanding of energy systems as a whole and of pathways to low-carbon and resilient energy systems. This directly relates to international climate change issues and policies as students will become engaged in a mock United Nations style negotiations throughout the week in order to achieve a reduction in carbon emissions through the use of energy systems. This is a week-long course, which runs in parallel to UKERC’s Annual Assembly, and the course is professionally facilitated to provide continual support for participants, and includes a number of networking opportunities as well as social events.

Applications are invited from those engaged in energy-related research including technical, physical, social, economic, environmental and business aspects of energy and energy systems.

Nominations are open until 1700hrs (5pm) GMT Thursday, 8th March 2012. There is no charge for registered research students to attend the School; UKERC will provide accommodation and all meals and materials for activities. The School is conducted in English, and as it is highly interactive a good standard of comprehension and spoken English is essential.

The nomination form can be accessed from the UKERC website

Full information is available from the UK Energy Research Centre website at:

HIE Renewables Investment announcements

HIE have just announced more information on two important renewables infrastructure projects in the key areas of Shetland and the Outer Hebrides….

Innovative partnership to drive the growth of marine energy in Shetland.
A partnership agreement was signed 15th November between European energy company Vattenfall, the Shetland Islands Council and the Shetland Charitable Trust (SCT), with support from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).
The partnership will develop a roadmap for ocean energy development around the Islands. The initial focus will be on the development of a ten megawatt pilot wave project already proposed off the west coast of Shetland.
The partnership will also gain invaluable first hand experience of developing a wave farm off Shetland’s coast. This experience will inform a strategy to enable the whole Shetland community to capture the economic and social benefits of its sizeable ocean energy potential and the planned electricity cable to the Scottish mainland.

A £3 million investment project upgrading renewable energy facilities in the Outer Hebrides has been completed.
The 12,000 square metre fabrication building at Arnish Point is currently used by BiFab.
Funding for the project was made available from the Scottish Government through Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), to improve Scotland’s renewable energy manufacturing and supply chain infrastructure. The yard is seen as a key long-term strategic location for renewable supply-chain activities. BiFab located there two years ago and have been involved in manufacturing cutting edge marine devices including Oyster 800 and the full scale tidal turbine for Hammerfest Strom which is to be deployed at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC).
Martin Adam, Operations Director at BiFab said: “We are delighted with this upgrade of facilities at Arnish. The manufacturing work we carry out is highly specialised. Location and facilities are vital as we work with wind and marine developers who are tapping into the growth of Scotland’s renewable energy market.”

ERG team at AllEnergy 2011

ERG team at All Energy Aberdeen 2011

The team were very happy with this years show and the four-way-split stand to showcase the research teams and facilities across UHI that ERG helps to represent.

Our stand was right on the end of the Highland section of the show (hosted by HIE) overlooking the section showcasing the Orkney Islands – an excellent spot we thought! After offering the four corners across the UHI partnerships, 3 were able to provide display material leaving one corner for ERG to display a mix of information and leaflets of our own and from various UHI partners dealing in energy research (such as the Agronomy Institute, ETEC and ORCA). Along side us ERI, SEAM and SAMS took-up the other corners of our stand and all had a good level of interest from both the casual enquirer and old friends seeking updates and information.

For those who have never been it’s a massive event and attended by all kinds of energy related companies from the smallest components to full-scale test project facilities providing an incredible insight into the current developments within the sector.

Full information on the show available at the All Energy website.

Solid Waste Powered Hydrogen Fuel Cell Demonstration

Canadian fuel specialist, Ballard Power Systems, has partnered with GS Platech a subsidiary of GS Caltex – one of South Korea’s largest petroleum refiners – to produce hydrogen from municipal solid waste to power zero-emission fuel cells.

GS Platech’s pilot plant in Cheongsong, South Korea is capable of treating 5 tons (4.53 tonnes) of organic solid waste per day using plasma gasification technology, and producing sufficient high purity hydrogen to generate 50 kW of clean power.

Ballard will supply the fuel cell generator, based on its Dantherm Power DBX5000 technology. The partnership claims that this will be the first demonstration of a waste to energy solution incorporating these technologies together.

This will be the first demonstration of a waste-to-energy solution incorporating these technologies together. Upon successful demonstration of the solution, GS Platech intends to further promote it to new customers worldwide.

The treatment of municipal solid waste is a growing problem in many nations, including Asia Pacific countries with particularly high population densities such as China, India, Korea, Japan and Singapore. This solution can potentially allow municipalities to address two key environmental issues in tandem:environmentally responsible waste treatment as well as clean power production.

Link to the full news release