‘Extraordinary’ month for Scottish renewable energy

Scotland had “another extraordinary month” for renewable energy in May, according to environmental groups.

 

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Wind turbines generated enough output to supply 100% or more of Scottish homes on 11 of 31 days in May

 

Wind turbines alone provided enough electricity to supply 95% of Scottish homes.

WWF Scotland analysed renewables data provided by WeatherEnergy.

It also found that in several parts of Scotland, homes fitted with solar PV panels had enough sunshine to generate more than 100% of the electricity needs of an average household.

Wind turbines provided 863,495 MWh of electricity to the National Grid during May, an increase of almost 20% compared to May 2016 when wind energy provided 692,896 MWh.

Overall the data showed that wind generated enough output to supply 100% or more of Scottish homes on 11 of the 31 days in May.

‘Energy revolution’

Scotland’s total electricity consumption, including homes, business and industry, last month was 1,857,566 MWh. Wind power generated the equivalent of 46% of Scotland’s entire electricity needs for the month.

Dr Sam Gardner, acting director of WWF Scotland, said: “Despite the disappointment of last week’s announcement that President Trump is to pull the US out of the Paris Agreement, the global energy revolution is unstoppable and continues at pace here in Scotland.

“May proved to be another great month for renewables with the wind sector meeting 95% of the electricity needs of Scotland’s households.

“On one day in particular, 15 May, output from turbines generated enough electricity to power 190% of homes or 99% of Scotland’s total electricity demand. Month after month, renewables play a vital role in cutting carbon emissions and powering the Scottish economy.”

‘Super sunny’

Homes with solar PV (photovoltaic) panels generated over 100% of average household electricity needs in Aberdeen, Dumfries, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Lerwick.

The sunniest place was Lerwick on the Shetland Islands, which generated 114% of an average household electricity demand. It was followed closely by Dundee with 112%.

Dr Gardner added: “Thanks to a super sunny month, solar was on sizzling form and could have met more than 100% of household electricity demand in towns and cities across Scotland.”

There was also enough sunshine to generate more than 90% of an average household’s hot water needs with solar hot water panels in Aberdeen, Dumfries, Dundee, Lerwick, Perth, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Stirling.

Karen Robinson, of WeatherEnergy, said: “Scotland again managed to pump out clean power by the bucket load during May.

“While people might not be too surprised to learn solar power output was up in May, they might be surprised to discover that wind power output was also pretty impressive.”

Across the UK, solar panels provided a record amount of power on 26 May, when the National Grid reported a 8.5 GWh peak over a half-hour from midday, almost a quarter of total demand.

Published in BBC.com, 5 June 2017

Wind Project in Wyoming Envisions Coal Miners as Trainees

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A Goldwind project in Shawmut, Mont. The company has an agreement to supply turbines for a project in Carbon County, Wyo., that will provide 200 jobs.

 

Goldwind Americas, an arm of a leading wind-turbine manufacturer based in China, has been expanding its business in the United States. It has been careful to seek out local, American workers for permanent jobs on the wind farms it supplies.

Now it is trying to extend that policy to an unlikely place: Wyoming, which produces more coal than any other state and has hardly welcomed the march of turbines across the country, even imposing a tax on wind-energy generation.

On Thursday at an energy conference in Wyoming, the company announced plans for a free training program for one of the nation’s fastest-growing jobs: wind farm technician. And it is aiming the program at coal miners having trouble finding work, as well as those from other industries.

Called Goldwind Works, the program would begin next month with a series of informational meetings in Wyoming and include a safety training and tower climb at a wind farm in Montana.

The company has an agreement to supply turbines, potentially 850, to a project in Carbon County, Wyo., where the state’s first coal mine opened a century ago. Once construction is completed, as many as 200 workers will be needed to maintain and operate the plant.

The chief executive, David Halligan, said in a telephone interview that he expected coal workers to have relevant skills, mainly electrical and mechanical, and experience working under difficult conditions.

“If we can tap into that market and also help out folks that might be experiencing some challenges in the work force today, I think that it can be a win-win situation,” he said. “If you’re a wind technician, you obviously can’t be afraid of heights. You have to be able to work at heights, and you have to be able to work at heights in a safe manner.”

The program could offer a needed boost. Hundreds of coal miners were laid off in Wyoming last year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that national employment for mining and geological engineers will grow by 6 percent between 2014 and 2024, while employment for wind turbine technicians is expected to grow by 108 percent.

Robert Godby, director of the Center for Energy Economics and Public Policy at the University of Wyoming, said the announcement could lead to a shift in thinking about the potential economic development benefits of wind projects. The state has some of the most robust winds in the country and has attracted keen interest from developers.

“This is actually a realization of these benefits in a way that hasn’t been apparent before,” Mr. Godby said. “The more you hear these positive stories and you start to see more direct benefits, it changes local perspectives and kind of begins to open minds.”

He cautioned, though, that the program could hardly make up for job losses in the coal industry, in part because each coal job results in related jobs, given the supply chain involved in handling and transporting the fuel.

Beyond Wyoming, the program could have implications for complex trade relations with China. In 2013, the Commerce Department finalized steep tariffs on some wind towers after finding that China was providing unfair subsidies to manufacturers that were then selling their products at below-market prices.

“This seems to be an effort — and perhaps a smart effort — by a Chinese company to win its way into the hearts of this administration and get beyond what’s happened in the past by targeting a core group of supporters of this president,” said Rory MacFarquhar, a visiting fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

“But this administration has been talking much more about manufacturing than about services,” added Mr. MacFarquhar, who helped set international economic and trade policy in the Obama White House. “They seem to want to actually have factory jobs back in the United States.”

Mr. Halligan said that Goldwind did not have plans for American manufacturing, but that the Wyoming wind project could generate thousands of construction jobs and hundreds of full-time operations and support positions.

The company plans to use the Wyoming program as a pilot. It hopes to eventually roll it out in other states where it supplies turbines, like Texas.

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LEGO Now Runs on 100% Clean Energy — Getting Rid of Plastic Is Next

With 100% clean energy, an attempt to avoid oil-based plastic, and a campaign on climate action, it seems the brand is staying true to its motto: building a better tomorrow

Written by Meghan Werft and published in Global Citizen the 17th of 2017

Danish toymaker LEGO announced Wednesday that they are three years ahead of schedule on their commitment to run on 100% clean energy by 2020.

LEGO invested $900 million in wind farms and renewable energy over the past four years. Now, all LEGO offices, factories, and even stores will be powered by clean energy.

“This development means we have now reached the 100% renewable energy milestone three years ahead of target,” Balli Padda, LEGO’s CEO said of the new Burbo Bank wind farm in Liverpool which opened today. Burbo Bank is just one place from which the company will be sourcing renewable energy.

LEGO’s investment in the wind farm also helps make clean energy an option for 230,000 homes in the UK.

And as another fun aside, LEGO locked in a Guinness World Record for the LEGO wind turbine they built in honor of the Burbo Bank wind farm opening. The LEGO replica is 24.6 feet (7.5 meters) tall.

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Getty Images News / Cameron Spencer

 

This is one of several clean energy initiatives the toy company has adopted since they announced ambitious plans to create all LEGOs from sustainable materials by 2030in 2012.

In addition to clean energy, LEGO launched a campaign, Planet Crew, for kids to get excited about clean energy and climate action.

The plan also included a $150 million investment in  plastic alternatives, and “sustainable plastic” sources. They created the LEGO Sustainable Materials Center and hired 100 scientists to help out.

While “sustainable plastic” sounds very much akin to jumbo shrimp or any other oxymoron, LEGO says it’s a real thing.

“The feedstock for plastic can come from many places that are not fossil based—bio-based, renewable or even recycled sources,” Tim Brooks environmental sustainability officer at LEGO said.

Another scientist at LEGO’s SMC told WIRED they were close to developing an alternative material made from corn.

There is no set definition of sustainable material, but LEGO takes the term to mean anything that cuts down on environmental impact, carbon footprint, and has a positive social impact on human rights and climate change. This can mean new sourcing or adding recycling and biodegradable initiatives for sustainability.

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Image: Flickr/USFWSmidwest

 

LEGO says not using oil-based plastics can minimize their carbon footprint in the meantime.

“Our aim is to have a positive impact on the planet, and that means searching for new materials in a broader sense to have alternatives to the oil-based plastic used for bricks and plastic packaging, but also to continue improving our paper-based boxes to be more sustainable,” Bisgaard Vase, a LEGO spokesperson told Environmental Leader.

“All of which are significant contributors to our environmental footprint, and therefore we are focusing on several efforts at the same time,” he said.

Others are skeptical about the vague definition of “sustainable plastic,” claiming it doesn’t represent real change

But with 100% clean energy, an attempt to avoid oil-based plastic, and a campaign on climate action, it seems the brand is staying true to its motto: building a better tomorrow.

Building sustainable cities, taking climate action, and access to affordable clean energy are all essential parts of the Sustainable Development Goals. LEGO just hit all three goals with their 100% clean energy target.

LEGO isn’t the only company aiming for 100% clean energy. LEGO is one of 100 companies signed up to make the switch by 2020. Others include Apple, which is 93%of the way there, and Google. Microsoft has run on 100% renewable energy since 2014.

Full tilt: giant offshore wind farm opens in North Sea

Gemini windpark off the coast of the Netherlands will eventually meet the energy needs of about 1.5 million people, according to its owners

Article published in TheGuardian the 9th of May 2017

Dutch officials have opened what is being billed as one of the world’s largest offshore wind farms, with 150 turbines spinning far out in the North Sea.

Over the next 15 years the Gemini windpark, which lies some 85km (53 miles) off the northern coast of the Netherlands, will meet the energy needs of about 1.5 million people.

 

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The Dutch government has committed to getting 14% of energy from renewables by 2020. Photograph: AFP/Getty

 

At full tilt the windpark has a generating capacity of 600 megawatts and will help supply 785,000 Dutch households with renewable energy, according to the company.

“We are now officially in the operational stage,” the company’s managing director Matthias Haag said, celebrating the completion of a project first conceived in 2010.

The €2.8bn ($3bn) project is a collaboration between the Canadian independent renewable energy company Northland Power, wind turbine manufacturer Siemens Wind Power, Dutch maritime contractor Van Oord and waste processing company HVC.

It was “quite a complex” undertaking, Haag said, “particularly as this windpark lies relatively far offshore … so it took quite a lot of logistics”.

Gemini would contribute about 13% of the country’s total renewable energy supply and about 25% of its wind power, he added.

It would help reduce emissions of carbon-dioxide emissions, among the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, by 1.25m tonnes, the company says.

The Netherlands remains dependant on fossil fuels which still make up about 95% of its energy supply, according to a 2016 report from the ministry of economics affairs.

The Dutch government has committed to ensuring 14% of its energy comes from renewable sources such as wind and solar power by 2020, and 16% by 2023, with the aim of being carbon neutral by 2050.

Gemini “is seen as a stepping stone” in the Netherlands and has “shown that a very large project can be built on time, and in a very safe environment”, Haag said.