My Column

Renewables make sense and money

  • Date: Monday 4th November 2019
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It’s no secret that renewable energy sources are a considerable revenue stream for Scotland.  Recent statistics are now predicting that the development of new floating wind farms could boost the economy by tens of billions and that’s a figure which is hard to ignore.  

The floating wind farm is a concept pioneered by Scotland, as the world’s first opened in Hywind near Aberdeenshire in 2017. The project was in development for more than 15 years but now that it’s up and running, the site alone generates enough electricity to power 20,000 homes.

The rationale behind the billion pound boost is that with new technology, large turbines can be installed in much deeper waters than before, meaning the pool of potential sites has grown significantly. In numbers, 80 per cent of potential offshore wind sites are in waters more than 60 metres deep, but floating turbines have the potential to work in waters as deep as 800 metres.

Of course this is incredibly expensive, so let’s hope the investment will prove to be value for money.

In support of this next generation offshore energy vision, Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult has launched a multi-million pound Floating Offshore Wind Centre of Excellence.

With six figure sum investments from several parties, including the Scottish Government, the initiative aims to accelerate the growth of floating wind farms and is believed to be the next generation of offshore wind technologies.

Eight projects have been outlined to kickstart work on the centre, including turbines to power oil platforms, grid connection for Scottish offshore wind with off-grid opportunities such as green hydrogen production, floating substructures for fabrication in Scotland and mapping a Cornwall and Wales floating wind supply chain.

Scotland is viewed at the forefront of this next generation of technology since it has the world’s first and only functioning floating wind farm. We are thought to be the windiest country in Europe after all, with some of the deepest waters surrounding us, so it seems this was a job made for Scotland and Scottish waters.

Plans are also afoot from the Scottish Offshore Wind Energy Council to create an employment boom in the sector over the next ten years. By building hundreds more turbines in the North Sea, it’s hoped that job numbers will grow by 75% and even more so if the new technology comes to fruition, meaning more wind farms can be built along the deeper waters of the Scottish Coast.

Despite this positive outlook from the Energy Council, renewable energy business CS Wind based in Campbeltown has announced it could cut 73 jobs – which is three quarters of its workforce. A big shock considering the company recorded pre-tax profits of £7.1 million last year.

CS Wind has blamed overarching reductions in support for renewable energy as well as a lack of projects to fill its diary over the coming months as reasoning for the stark announcement.

It’s never good to hear about the potential cull of a workforce, especially in an industry that is viewed as a big player to the Scottish economy.

Here’s hoping the promised investment from Scottish Offshore Wind Energy Council and this new centre of excellence can have a positive impact on companies like CS Wind and it won’t be a case of too little too late.

 

Side 

 

It’s fantastic to see fellow entrepreneurs do well, and it’s even better when they are in a position to do something positive by providing much-needed funds for good causes.

So naturally I was delighted to see that Sir Brian Souter, the stagecoach tycoon and one of Scotland’s richest men, has made a huge donation to charity.

The businessman, whose firm Souter Investments invests across a number of sectors including oil and gas, financial services and technology, has donated £109 million of his sizeable fortune to his own charitable trust.

The Souter Charitable Trust has supported thousands of projects since it was set up in 1992, such as funding anti-malaria programmes and supplying meals to schoolchildren in Africa, so it’s great to hear that it will now be receiving 28 per cent of shares transferred from Sir Brian’s firm.

What is more amazing is that it’s believed to be the biggest donation to good causes by a Scot since 19th century industrialist Andrew Carnegie. The Scottish-born investor, who emigrated to America, is thought to have donated as much as $350 million dollars to charity by the time of his death in 1919.

Figures from the last financial year show it’s been a good year Sir Brian Souter – so it’s brilliant to see this Scottish entrepreneur using his good fortune to help others.

It will be fantastic to see how his millions will go on to benefit those in need.

 

Laugh 

With the clocks going back and de-icer coming out, Scotland’s sun-kissed festival season feels a long time ago.

So I had to laugh when I read about a Glasgow man who celebrated turning 40 last weekend by recreating T in the Park in Partick.

John Cunningham, who believes he has never missed the event, created his very own festival, J In The Par(tic)k.

The painter and decorator asked friends and family to attend in festival clothing, with a live band performing festival classics and even a campsite and stall selling J In The Par(tic)k branded merchandise.

It’s a great idea, but the event at Partick Burgh Halls ended up costing around £4,000.  John believes if he is going to hold another, he will need to make it even more realistic – and sell tickets on the door. I wish him the best of luck!

 

Weep 

It’s been six years this month since the tragic events of the police helicopter crash at Glasgow’s Clutha Bar.           

10 people lost their lives that awful night, while the scars of such a terrible tragedy still run deep within the city.

It was heart-breaking to see families affected by the crash having to relive the events as the fatal accident inquiry reached its conclusion last week.

Since April this year, Sheriff Turnbull heard testimony from experts, eyewitnesses and loved ones as answers were sought on how such a situation could happen.

I commend the families of the victims who have remained dignified throughout proceedings, during what must have been an incredibly difficult time.

We can only hope that lessons can be learned from the inquiry’s findings and such a tragedy can never happen again.

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