Scotland’s renewable energy capacity reaches new heights!

The latest news from the Scottish Government states that around 40% of the total energy the country consumes is being produced using renewable energy sources. The latest figures also show that the overall electricity produced using renewable means in Scotland has reached record heights. The Department of Energy and Climate Change of Scotland released the figures earlier this morning, and as per their predictions from the overall gross electricity consumption of 2012, around 40.3% of the total energy was generated using renewable energy. Similarly, Australia is on track to meet its interim target of producing around 50% of its total energy requirement by using renewable sources of energy.

These figures also show that Scotland is on track to meet its target of producing 100% of its total energy demand via renewable energy methods, come the year 2020. Throughout the United Kingdom, the renewable electricity produced by Scotland amounted to 36% of the overall renewable electricity which was generated throughout the United Kingdom in the past year. Moreover, Scotland also continues to be a leading exporter of electricity across the globe, and in the past year, the country exported around 26 percent of the electricity that it produced. More importantly, the quarterly data revealed in the past quarter (Q3) of 2013 also revealed that renewable electricity generation is on its path to beat the records which were established in the past year.

Fergus Ewing, the Minister for Energy stated that the figures give a clear idea that production of renewable energy within Scotland is moving from strength to strength. He also confirmed that 2012 was easily the best year in terms of renewable energy production for Scotland, and 2013 looks to be even better. He continues to state that as per the data of the first 9 months of 2013, generation of renewable electricity is 4 percent higher than it was at the same point back in 2012.

Ewing expressed the importance of long term energy generation by making use of renewable sources of energy, stating that in the long term, this will help Scottish residents to get electricity at very low costs. Mr. Ewing also commented on an update published to the Route Map for Renewable Energy for Scotland on behalf of the Scottish government; he stated that the publication provides a clear idea of the improvements and progress that have been achieved in the past year, while also underlining the numerous steps which the country is taking to help Scotland to generate 100% of its required electricity by making use of renewable sources of energy by the year 2020. He further stated that even though most believed this to be an overly ambitious, and even far- fetched target, the country was already on track to meet the 50% interim target which it had set for the year 2015.

Mr Ewing also gave a comment on the Electricity Market Reform Delivery Plan that was published by the UK Government. He stated that the government of the United Kingdom fails to understand the requirement for creating different tiers of support throughout the three main island groups, which is something that was recognized by the research carried out by the United Kingdom itself. He then stated that he has already planned to call together a summit in the first quarter of 2014 which would be used to bring all interested parties under one roof. An assessment could then be carried out regarding the next steps which could be taken to achieve a positive result for each of the three different island groups. He highlighted the opportunity provided by these island groups, stating that they could provide up to 5% of the total electricity produced by Great Britain, and could also result in the creation of hundreds of different jobs – an opportunity that should not be missed.

Mr Ewing also talked about offshore wind energy, stating that even though a fairly modest increase had been reported, the country continues to enhance its ambitions regarding offshore wind power. He carried on by explaining that the pulling out of UK Government investment in offshore wind energy, could cause problems for some of the development programs which had been set in place for Scotland, and could throw the opportunity of the country to establish thousands of jobs into turmoil, whilst also reducing the enhancement of supply chain investment and the creation of a number of new manufacturing industries. Talking about long term investment, Mr Ewing stated that beyond the year 2020, investors who were into sectors such as marine renewables or offshore wind, did not have any clear market signals. He stated that the UK government must take some serious steps in order to provide a resolution for these issues.

The latest figures along with Mr Ewing’s comments clearly state that Scotland is well on its path to generating 100% of its electricity via renewable means, which could prove to be a massive step in the global fight against carbon emissions. It remains to be seen, however, whether it will be able to achieve this ambitious and wholeheartedly encouraged target, or not.

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To insulate or not to insulate, that is the question.

Today we will talk about the benefits and pitfalls of cavity wall insulation.

There are many contradicting arguments for and against the use of cavity wall insulation floating around on the internet, so it is always hard to find a straight answer to the question “will it make my home warmer?” Well the answer is… maybe!

The problem with cavity wall insulation is that there are too many variables in the properties it is proposed to be installed in, these range from ‘snots’ or rouge mortar drops, connecting the external skin to the internal skin causing permeated damp spots, to existing damp either from the ties or at the base of the wall rising up. If not inspected properly and thoroughly (usually with a probe camera) the insulation could end up costing you far more to remove or fix than any savings that could have been achieved via energy bill reduction.

So there is always a risk when installing this kind of insulation no matter what the type of material used to insulate, from fiberglass to Warmfill bead and everything in-between.

Many people who have undertaken cavity wall insulation in the UK have not noticed an increase in warmth after their investment, nor enjoyed a reduction in heating costs, so what does this say?

What must be noted, however, is that there are many routes homeowners can take to make their homes more energy efficient and noticeably warmer that offer much less cost and risk, such as removing the letterbox, sealing the old chimney (which will suck out a comparable amount of heat from a room as an open door) if it is no longer used, and plugging/sealing any gaps in floorboards and anywhere else there may be a draught. Other options include plugging some of the holes in the air bricks (not all however) to slow down the air flow, insulating suspended floors and of course, increasing the loft insulation thickness (if necessary).

Be careful of what a cavity wall insulation installer may say to get the sale, and ensure they do a thorough and detailed inspection of the cavity they are aiming to fill before you commission them for the job. If in any doubt, the options to use external (more expensive still) or internal wall insulation are always available.

Our recommendation is that you should exhaust all other methods to keep your home warm before you invest in this solution, as the cost and risk is high if undertaken incorrectly. However, in a right property, under the right conditions, this method can be a fantastic means of reducing your energy bills and attaining a warmer, greener home – just be aware of the risks associated with it.

If you want any advice or are looking for a local professional please visit the main site here.

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How far does the branch of the Apple Inc. tree really go?

In a patent filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office, Apple Inc, the electronics giant synonymous with electrical devices we all know well, has submitted a patent for a revolutionary twist to the current horizontal axis wind turbine.

This patent details the concept of collecting energy in the form of heat rather than directly generating the electricity via mechanical means.

Apple Wind Turbine Patent
Apple Wind Turbine Patent

What is proposed is that the mechanical action of the turbine transfers the kinetic energy of the wind through various shafts to raise the temperature of a “low-heat capacity fluid” stored under the turbine itself. This low level heat then acts as an energy store, much like a battery, that another connected system using a ‘Working Fluid’ then slowly converts via other methods to electricity.

This allows the turbine system to generate electricity whatever the weather day and night, storing energy when operational and generating electricity at times when the grid requires it most.

The raw concept works by attaching a heat pump to a wind turbine. In theory the process could be used to heat homes and businesses / communities as well. But in this instance the high level heat generated via the heat exchange system, is used to vaporise the working fluid which drives a turbine that is connected to the generator. It is this final stage of the wind turbine system that is the actual source of the electricity.

The Inventor, Jean L. Lee from San Jose in the United States, has filed many fascinating patents in the field of Renewable Energy over the last few years, from Fuel Cell systems that power portable devices (such as the iPod’s and laptops) to flame proof materials.

Apple is constantly striving to reduce the amount of toxic substances in its products, lowering the amount of greenhouse gases emitted during production and increasing the efficiency of its products.

To this end expanding into the renewable energy market and looking at ways to offset the carbon and energy costs of their products is a logical and innovative step, one that is welcomed here at The Renewable Energy Hub.

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apple

UK Government urged to auction contracts for renewable energy

As an analyst who is linked to the Conservative Party has said, the UK should hold competitive auctions in order to give out renewable power contracts to other companies in a bid to reduce the costs of technology as well as reduce the effect that they have on the electricity bills of the consumers. At present, the costs of electricity generation via renewable energy are substantially higher, and that is because there hasn’t been much innovation in the field as yet. By auctioning off the renewable energy contracts to different companies, the country can hope to generate renewable energy at much lower prices, which will ultimately have a positive impact upon the electricity bills. In a report that was revealed earlier today by the Policy Exchange, it was stated that other sources of electricity generation such as onshore wind power, biomass and even energy from waste could become viable competitors against each other for the contracts that are put forth for electricity generation. The report also revealed that solar power should also become a viable competitor come the next year, and it would be in the best interests of the country to hold a technology specific auction with a set budget for all offshore wind power generation.

Renewable Energy Contract Auction
Renewable Energy Contract Auction

In the past few years, the prices of electricity have become a very hot topic for the politicians of Britain, as the opposition Labour party has made widespread promises to freeze all bills if it wins the next elections which are to be held in 2015. These publicly made promises immediately spurred the ruling parties into action, and the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives began to make alterations. As per the estimates which have been made by the government, it is suspected that support for renewables will put an increase of around £132 on a typical household bill, come the year 2020.

The Policy Exchange also stated the reason, because of which the government should opt for auctioning rather than administrative price setting, as it would reveal the pricing information and also allow for making cheaper bids. The Policy Exchange also stated that the government should try and push forward the time table set for introducing the auctions in the energy market. At present, the government is trying its hardest to initiate an investment of 110 billion pounds in order to change the older power plants within the country, while still meeting the emissions cap and keeping the renewable energy targets in check. Because of this, the Parliament, only last week signed a law which altered the electricity market as well as changing the setting of prices by using numerous low carbon generation technologies up till 2019.

The Policy Exchange further continued by stating that even though the government had planned to eventually move towards competitive auctions, the move, as yet, wasn’t very well defined. The Policy Exchange cited the example of the rapidly falling costs of wind power in Brazil as one of the primary reasons why competitive auctions are a viable solution and can bring about long term stability and success to the electricity market.

For offshore wind generation, the Policy Exchange stated that the government should put a ceiling on the prices in 2020, while the starting point that the government should use is an industry goal of 100 pounds per megawatt hour. The prices mentioned in the report by the Policy Exchange are approximately 40 pounds lower than the prices which the government has set for projects related to offshore wind power which are to begin from the tax year that ends on March 31, 2019.

Furthermore, the Policy Exchange also put forth some recommendations to the government, one of which was to scrap the goal which the country had set before the European Union of generating around 15% of all the energy, inclusive of transportation and heating, by making use of renewable sources of energy come the year 2015. The Policy Exchange stated that the goal actually meant producing as much as 35 percent of the power from clean sources, which is a pretty difficult figure to achieve in such a small span of time.

The Policy Exchange was created more than a decade ago, in 2002, and its first chairman was Michael Gove, who is the current Education Secretary. Other founder members included Francis Maude as well as Nick Boles, who is another lawmaker who belongs to the current Conservative Party. These reports shed a deeper light on the way the electricity market should shape up in the next few years, because the government’s renewable energy targets are likely to become pretty difficult to achieve in such a small span of time. However, other companies have also expressed interest in applying for auctions and investing in wind power farms within the United Kingdom. As the government recently announced a much improved subsidy regime for all offshore wind farms, one of the largest wind farm companies in the world, Dong Energy, has stated that nothing can hold back investment in the North Sea.

Numerous other companies have begun to move towards renewables in an attempt to curb emissions and prevent damage to the atmosphere. Australia has also rapidly evolved, and considering the amount of sunlight that the country receives, Australia has rapidly transitioned towards renewable sources of energy and surpassed the one million mark in solar units installed earlier in the year. This is partly due to the rising prices of electricity all over the globe, as people find it very difficult to maintain their bills without having to cut down on their living requirements significantly. As a result, a large portion of the population have begun to look for ways by which they can generate electricity on their own and reduce their costs. However, with offshore investment likely, as well as the government’s alterations in the pricing mechanism, an improvement is all the more likely and in the next few years, the impact of the changes will soon become clear.