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Wind output in November broke through the 100% threshold for the first time, with 109% of total Scottish electricity demand being met from renewables, enough to power nearly 6 million homes.

Another milestone is that for 20 out of the 30 days, wind production outstripped demand.

Gina Hanrahan, Head of Policy at WWF Scotland said “Wind power breaking through the magic 100 per cent threshold is truly momentous. For months output has flirted around the 97 per cent mark, so it’s fantastic to reach this milestone.

“It’s also worth noting that 20 out of 30 days wind production outstripped demand.

“Most of this is onshore wind, which we know is popular, cheap and effective. But the UK Government needs to allow it to compete with other technologies, by unlocking market access for onshore wind if it’s to realise its full potential.”

  • National Grid demand for the month – 1,994,839 MWh. What % of this could have been provided by wind power – 109%
  • Best day – 28th November generation was 116,599MWh, 9.59m homes, 391% households. Demand that day was 60,492MWh – wind generation was 192% of that.
  • Worst day – 26th November 22,677 MWh, 1.86m homes, 75% of households
  • How many days generation was over 100% of household electricity requirement – 28
  • How many days generation exceeded overall electricity demand – 20

Alex Wilcox Brooke, Weather Energy Project Manager at Severn Wye Energy Agency said “Scottish wind power generation breaking the 100 per cent barrier in November is historic and serves as a timely reminder of the importance renewable energy now plays in the UK energy market.”

wind output

The Climate Change and Industry Minister, Claire Perry, confirmed today that the sale of the Green Investment Bank (GIB) to Macquarie Group Limited has now been completed.

New owner Macquarie has committed to the GIB’s target of leading £3 billion of investment in green energy projects over next 3 years.

The £2.3 billion deal ensures that all the taxpayer funding invested in GIB since its creation, including set-up costs, has been returned with a gain of approximately £186 million.

As well as fully meeting the government’s objectives, the deal secures the future of the GIB with an ambitious new owner committed to growing the business. The Edinburgh office will be home to a new revenue-generating business as well as providing services to the green energy portfolios of both Macquarie and GIB in the UK.

The government decided that moving it into the private sector now would free it from the constraints of public sector ownership allowing it to increase investment in our green infrastructure as we transition to a green economy. GIB’s independent Board supported the government’s decision to sell the business to Macquarie.

In order to build on the company’s success within the private sector, Macquarie and GIB have announced today that the company will now be known as the Green Investment Group (GIG) so that it will be able to make overseas investments.

Climate Change and Industry Minister Claire Perry said “We led the world in setting up the Green Investment Bank and it is now being copied by others. Now that it’s in the private sector, it will be able to operate on an international level to tackle the global challenge of climate change. It is also perfectly placed to help us finance green initiatives for our Clean Growth Plan and realise the commitments set out in the Paris Agreement.

The green ‘special share’ held by the Green Purposes Company Limited also comes into force now. Five independent trustees have the power to approve or reject any proposed changes to GIG’s green purposes in the future.

The government will continue to hold an interest in a portfolio of a small number of GIB’s existing green infrastructure investments. These assets will continue to be managed by GIB until they can be sold on in a way which returns best value for taxpayers’ money.

DONG Energy confirms a positive Final Investment Decision for Hornsea One offshore wind farm off the coast of Grimsby in Northern England.

This morning, Wednesday 3 February, the board of directors at DONG Energy confirmed a positive Final Investment Decision for Hornsea One offshore wind farm off the coast of Grimsby in Northern England, meaning that construction can now go ahead.

Located 75 miles off the Yorkshire coast and capable of powering over one million UK homes with a capacity of 1.2 gigawatts, Hornsea One will be – by a considerable margin – the world’s largest offshore wind farm.

The project has the potential to create around 2,000 jobs during its construction, with up to 300 additional jobs supported throughout its 20-25 year operational phase. A new Siemens blade factory in Hull, due to be built by the end of this year, will support the project, boosting a Northern and UK wide supply chain.

Hornsea One is expected to be fully operational in 2020.

Energy Secretary Amber Rudd said “Thanks to Government support the UK is the world leader in offshore wind energy and this success story is going from strength to strength. Dong Energy’s investment shows that we are open for business and is a vote of confidence in the UK and in our plan to tackle the legacy of under-investment and build an energy infrastructure fit for the 21st century.”

“This project means secure, clean energy for the country, jobs and financial security for working people and their families, and more skills and growth boosting the Northern Powerhouse.”

Planning applications for solar farms have soared since the Government announced it was consulting on plans to end subsidy schemes for solar farms that produce 5 megawatts (MW) of power or below.

The recent data, compiled by construction data experts Barbour ABI for Building magazine, shows that a record 83 applications for solar farms worth a total of £431m were put in for planning in July, 73 of which were for proposed 5MW or below solar farms.

The research goes on to show that almost two thirds of the solar projects put in for planning in July submitted their applications on or after the 22nd of the month, the day DECC launched a consultation on closing the renewables obligation (RO) for solar farms at 5MW or below in capacity.

To make a comparison, 45 applications were submitted for the entire month of June, where as 51 were submitted in just ten days between the 22nd and the 31st of July, immediately after the subsidy cut announcement.

Commenting on the figures, Michael Dall, lead economist at Barbour ABI, said “It was not surprising to see a flood of applicants trying to get projects in the planning pipeline immediately after the announcement of the Government’s solar subsidy clawbacks.”

“The Government’s stance on solar is that falling costs have made it easier for the industry to survive without subsidies, particularly with the drop in prices for wholesale electricity prices. “

“However the risk here is that diminishing subsidies could falter a growing industry, potentially putting it under major jeopardy. Up to 27,000 jobs are at risk over the coming years in solar alone, not mentioning other renewable technologies, if more subsidy cuts are on the way.”

Following a recent spate of government cuts to renewable incentives and technologies, buildingspecifier hear from an industry expert to understand the impact this has been having on the UK renewables sector as a whole.

It appears that the latter half of 2015 has already seen the death of many earnest eco-friendly practices – first it began with the scrapping of the green deal shortly after an election victory, with no apparent replacement scheme to follow. The Green Deal was far from perfect – but following the subsequent assaults on environmental, ecological and energy matters that followed, such as the U-turn on Zero Carbon Homes building standards, the ending of subsidies for onshore wind farms and a failed attempt to begin fracking in Lancashire despite widespread public opposition, people are beginning to question the seriousness of this government’s commitment to the environment that we all have to live in and the validity of a speech once made by David Cameron where he expressed that he wanted to be “the greenest government ever.”

Most recently, the Department for Energy and Climate Change revealed their intentions to cut subsidies for solar energy by almost 90% from January in a consultation paper that was published earlier this month. This follows George Osborne underlining his determination to get the government’s nuclear energy programme moving by providing a £2bn government guarantee for the delayed Hinkley Point power plant project. So how is this affecting the section of the UK construction industry who specialise in green technology and renewable energy?

Silvio Spiess, founder and CEO of Innasol, the UK’s leading biomass business, comments on the recent green cuts and the uncertainty surrounding the industry.

“Heating constitutes 78% of the average consumer’s energy consumption. It is therefore a no-brainer that heating should be the government’s principal focus over the next few years.”

“The consistent degression of biomass technologies under the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive scheme clearly demonstrates that there is significant appetite in the UK for renewable heating. The tariff for domestic biomass has dropped by 47% over the last nine months, the tariff for small commercial biomass (up to 200kW) has dropped by 53% over the last 15 months – entirely due to consumer popularity. UK home and business owners are calling for affordable, clean energy.”

“The current uncertainty which surrounds renewable heating and other green technologies is only damaging the industry: consumers are less willing to invest in renewable heating technologies and green businesses themselves are less prepared to invest in their staff and infrastructure. By cutting green subsidies, the government is jeopardising the UK’s progression towards cleaner, greener, more affordable energy.”

“Innasol calls on the government to recognise this demand, and to commit to investing in renewable heating past Q1 2016. By reallocating budget to further invest in subsidies (like the Renewable Heat Incentive) to promote renewable heating, the government will propel the UK towards carbon emissions reductions and closer to the EU 2020 targets. Now is the time to act.”

Climate change is arguably the biggest threat to stability and prosperity around the world. Experts agree that by 2035 the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will exceed the critical level consistent with a temperature rise of less than 2˚C.

Did you know that the sun delivers 5000 times more power to the surface of Earth than we could ever need? With the cost of renewables slowly but surely falling, something must be done to improve developmental knowledge of renewable energy, which currently recieves less than 2% of the world’s publicly funded research, development and demonstration.

The Global Apollo Program’s website says that their “aim is to accelerate the decarbonisation of the world economy through more rapid technical progress, achieved through an internationally-coordinated program of research and development over a 10-year period.”

An open letter has now been signed by several high profile scientists, businessmen and public figures urging world leaders and citizens of the Earth alike to back the principles of the Global Apollo Program ahead of the UN climate change conference talks which will take place in Paris at the end of 2015.

The letter reads as follows:

We the undersigned believe that global warming can be addressed without adding significant economic costs or burdening taxpayers with more debt.

A sensible approach to tackling climate change will not only pay for itself but provide economic benefits to the nations of the world.

The aspiration of the Global Apollo Program is to make renewable energy cheaper than coal within 10 years. We urge the leading nations of the world to commit to this positive, practical initiative by the Paris climate conference in December.

The plan requires leading governments to invest a total of $15 billion a year in research, development and demonstration of clean energy.

That compares to the $100 billion currently invested in defence R&D globally each year.

Public investment now will save governments huge sums in the future.

What is more, a coordinated R&D plan can help bring energy bills down for billions of consumers.

Renewable energy gets less than 2% of publicly funded R&D. The private sector spends relatively small sums on clean energy research and development.

Just as with the Apollo space missions of the 1960s, great scientific minds must now be assembled to find a solution to one of the biggest challenges we face.

Please support the Global Apollo Program – the world’s 10 year plan for cheaper, cleaner energy.

Signed:
– Sir David Attenborough
– Professor Brian Cox
– Paul Polman, CEO, Unilever
– Arunabha Ghosh, CEO, Council on Energy Environment and Water
– Ed Davey, Former UK Energy Secretary
– Bill Hare, Founder and CEO, Climate Analytics
– Nilesh Y. Jadhav, Program Director, Energy Research Institute @NTU, Singapore
– Niall Dunne, Chief Sustainability Officer, BT
– Carlo Carraro, Director, International Centre for Climate Governance
– Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, Chair, Grantham Institute
– Mark Kenber, CEO, The Climate Group
– Ben Goldsmith, Founder, Menhaden Capital
– Sabina Ratti, Executive Director, FEEM – Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei
– Lord Browne, Chairman L1 Energy
– Zac Goldsmith MP
– Professor Martin Siegert, Co-Director Grantham Institute
– Professor Joanna Haigh CBE, Co-Director, Grantham Institute and Vice President of Royal Meteorological Society
– Peter Bakker, President, World Business Council for Sustainable Development
– Dr Fatima Denton, African Climate Policy Centre
– Denys Shortt, CEO, DCS Group
– Lord Turner, Former Chairman, Financial Services Authority
– Lord O’Donnell, Former Cabinet Secretary
– Lord Layard, London School of Economics
– Professor John Shepherd CBE FRS
– Lord Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal

Watch the video below to find out more about the Global Apollo Program – a 10 year project that aims to coordinate international research and development and discover breakthrough clean technologies to tackle climate change.