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Scotland’s Renewable Energy Year in Focus 2012

Some highlights and low points

January

Aquamarine Power acquires new funding in the form of investment by Scottish Equity Partners , another expression of confidence in Aquamarine’s rapidly progressing Oyster wave power technology.

A further boost for wave power came mid month when Alstom and SSE Renewables signed  a  joint venture agreement  to develop the Costa Head Wave Project, an up to 200 Megawatts (MW) wave energy site located north of mainland Orkney.

Meanwhile Samsung Heavy Industries announce that Methil in Fife will be the test site their new 7MW offshore wind turbine

February

The month began with the news that the first steel had been cut at Ferguson’s for the new Hybrid ferry, heralding a return to civilian shipbuilding on the Clyde after a five year drought.

February also saw the signing of the agreement between Scottish Power/National Grid, Siemens and cable-maker Prysmian  for the  2.2GW  600kV   WesternHVDC subsea interconnector  which will allow the export to the rest of the UK of much more Scottish renewable energy, the existing N-S interconnector being almost at full capacity.

Other good news included the announcement of the new Coire Glas pumped hydro storage scheme, the largest hydro project to be built in Scotland and the first brand new pumped storage scheme to be developed in Great Britain since 1974.  . This scheme also brought various environmental groups out of the woodwork, with the Ramblers Association and the John Muir Trust in the vanguard. The Mountaineering Council of Scotland , after initially objecting, ended up giving their qualified blessing to the scheme.

March

The month started with news of the highest ever hydro electric output  in Scotland  .

This news was followed by the Scottish Government’s Draft Electricity Generation Policy Statement, committing Scotland to generating the equivalent of 100% of demand from renewables by 2020  –  a target that set tongues wagging for the rest of the year.

This was also the month that the anti-wind campaign led by Tory back-benchers and papers such as the Telegraph and Daily Mail began to gather momentum. A popular initial tactic was to blame renewables for the sharp increases in household energy bills, an idea that still has traction in spite of the OFGEM report  which clearly shows that onshore wind added just £5 to the average household energy bill in 2011.

March also saw Gamesa finally come off the fence and choose Leith over Dundee or Hartlepool for their new turbine manufacturing facility , giving the lie, some said,  to reports that investors were being scared off by uncertainties over Scotland’s constitutional future. Nine months down the line however there is still no news of when the facility is likely to be built or become operational.

April

 April saw a major blow to Scotland’s wind manufacturing hopes  when Doosan Power Systems announced it was  abandoning its plans  for developing offshore wind turbines in Scotland “in light of the overall economic conditions and liquidity issues in Europe”.

Meanwhile, ‘The Donald’ came to Holyrood and huffed and puffed  but failed to blow the house down . . . 

May

Major news in May – though announced very softly – was  the announcement by OFGEM of  their intent to retain locational charging as a principal element in the way in which generators pay to use the UK’s transmission network. This was the first grid-related blow of the year to the renewable energy ambitions of the Northern and Western isles, but more were to follow.

June

New reports on offshore wind published this month suggested that the industry could slash current costs by 30%  and that it had the potential to boost UK GDP By 0.6% by 2030

Midsummer also saw the publication of the Scottish Government’s Marine Energy Action Plan,  the replacement for the old Marine Road Map.  The Action Plan however failed to address growing concerns about grid access for island renewables.

July

July brought the news that Scots renewable energy output was at record levels and that the target of 100% equivalence by 2020 was achievable

August

 The month began with a joint statement from various Argyll community groups saying that up to 10MW of community renewable energy projects in the county are currently on hold because of grid constraints. These projects have the potential to generate an income of £1.5 million a year for local communities. Grid failings are emerging as one of this year’s top issues.

Some good grid news however was the announcement that the UK-Norway Interconnector project had secured a connection point at Peterhead on this side of the North Sea

Hydro electric power generation at Glendoe restarted in August after a three year hiatus. The 100MW scheme near Fort Augustus went offline in August 2009 as a result of a rock fall in the tunnel carrying water from the scheme reservoir to the power station.

September

September saw the news of a 30MW tidal array planned off the Rhinns of Islay

However, September also brought more bad news on grid charges, with Pentland and Orkney wave and tidal grid charge estimates hitting £100m.

October

There was plenty of good news for offshore wind in October, with the announcement of the Hunterston offshore test centre and the revelation that news that both the MOD and the RSPB had now withdrawn their objections  to the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre  off Aberdeen, leaving the Trump Organisation isolated.

In the same month an application for consent was sought for a 1GW offshore windfarm  in the the Firth of Forth Offshore Wind Zone

November

November saw French company AREVA announce their intention to build a wind turbine manufacturing facility on the East coast, with the potential to create 700 jobs.   At present this is no firmer than a ‘memorandum of understanding’ signed between Areva and the First Minister.

December

Scottish Power Renewables announce they are putting the West Coast’s flagship offshore wind project, the Argyll Array, on hold for 12 months for further environmental studies.  . It is looking increasingly likely that future development of offshore wind in Scotland will focus on the East coast.

New figures were published showing that renewables met 36.3 per cent of Scots electricity consumption in 2011  . 26% of generated power was exported.

And in a feelgood event just before Christmas the first of CalMac’s two new Hybrid ferries, MV Hallaig, was launched at Ferguson’s shipyard on the Clyde.

 

Scots Renewables would like to wish all our readers a happy and prosperous 2013.

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