Fossil fuels such as coal and oil have dominated the market for hundreds of years. Now, renewable energy sources are catching up as we develop more advanced technologies to capture and keep energy. Decreased costs expand the commercial market of green energy and make renewables widely accessible.
Scotland’s recently updated their ‘Scottish Energy Strategy’ to include real focus on a green recovery from Covid-19. Energy efficiency is at the heart of their targets, using a diverse array of potential renewable solutions. Renewable electricity generation is expanding, hitting a record high for Q1 of 2020, with 90.1% of gross electricity consumption in Scotland coming from renewable sources. By 2050, Scotland are clear that 100% of all transport, heat and electricity is to be from renewable sources. Through the transition, the Scottish Government expects to tackle fuel poverty, using district heating strategies for local authorities, enabling whole communities to benefit.
In Glasgow, the renewable capacity is continuing to grow, with the ambitious target of becoming a carbon neutral city by 2030. Located near Eaglesham just outside Glasgow, Whitelee Windfarm is the UK’s largest onshore windfarm. The site’s 215 turbines are capable of generating up to 539 megawatts of electricity, enough to power over 350,000 homes at any one time. Glasgow is an international centre of excellence in offshore renewables, and hosts the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, based in the International Technology and Renewable Energy Zone.
Scotland’s world-leading renewables sector has helped catapult the country into the top three European countries producing electricity from them, according to the latest statistics.
Figures for last year from the Scottish Government show that 97% of Scotland’s electricity was produced from renewable sources and, when compared with the latest data from the European body Eurostat, for 2019, Scotland is in the top three, with only Norway and Iceland producing more electricity from renewables that us.
The University of Strathclyde has the largest portfolio in the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council’s (EPSRC) Supergen (Sustainable Power Generation) programme – in smart grid and offshore renewable energy – with leadership positions in funded consortium projects worth a total of more than £34million. This has supported the formation of the largest critical mass of academics working on electrical power and energy in Europe.
Strathclyde’s Institute of Energy & Environment is one of Europe’s leading and largest power systems and energy technology university research groups. Its 200 staff and researchers engage in a diverse range of collaborative, multidisciplinary research programmes, addressing issues such as the creation of sustainable energy systems, to the development of condition monitoring technologies and asset investment planning for major electricity companies. The Institute’s expertise spans four core areas: Advanced Electrical Systems, High Voltage Technologies & Electrical Plant Diagnostics, Power Electronics, Drives & Energy Conversion, Wind Energy & Control.
Neatpump, Star Renewable Energy’s bespoke water-source heat pump, is a natural, efficient alternative to traditional methods of heating. The Neatpump is a scalable technology which has been developed to meet decarbonisation targets without the cost, complexity and constraints associated with many renewable energy systems.
The heat pumps manufactured as part of the £250m Queens Quay regeneration project in Clydebank, is Scotland’s first large scale water source heat pump for district heating, and one of the UK’s most innovative energy projects. It takes water from the River Clyde and uses it to deliver hot water and heating to connecting homes, businesses and public buildings in the surrounded area. The pumps will deliver 70% lower carbon than burning gas and 100% less air pollutant NOx emissions. In addition, the ground-breaking technology uses a natural refrigerant, offering zero global warming potential and zero ozone depletion.
Arts and events venue SWG3 is heating up as it plans to introduce a state-of-the-art renewable heating and cooling system to the venue, transforming body heat from clubbers and gig-goers into a source of energy to be used again.
The first of its kind to be installed in Scotland, BODYHEAT uses heat pumps and fluids to capture the incredible amounts of body heat generated by SWG3’s crowds, channelling their combined energy into twelve 150m-deep bore holes drilled beneath the venue. This heat can then either be used immediately to cool the audience, or stored under the ground until it’s needed to heat the building.
Low carbon energy will need to come from a number of sources the world transitions to net zero. Green hydrogen is being further developed south of Glasgow, with the UK’s largest electrolyser to be built close to the Whitelee site. The 20MW electrolyser is part of a green hydrogen facility able to produce up to 8 tonnes of green hydrogen per day.
The project will be powered by nearby wind and solar farms and is designed to provide carbon-free transport and clean air for communities across Glasgow as well as helping support industrial hydrogen demand in the region. Within 2 years, Scottish residents could well be enjoying green hydrogen as part of their transport transition.
The University of Strathclyde enables smart grid innovation, aiding future delivery of secure, affordable low carbon energy. The Institute for Energy and Environment comprises one of the largest electrical power academic research groups in Europe and plays a key role in national and international consortia. It has strong collaborations with industry across major initiatives.
The University’s world-class facilities include experimental laboratories in the TIC and the innovative and industry-friendly Power Networks Demonstration Centre (PNDC) in Cumbernauld. The PNDC is playing a critical role in changing the energy landscape, by accelerating the technologies and systems needed for power grids to deliver low carbon energy in the future.
Strathclyde spinout companies in the energy sector (including Smarter Grid Solutions, Bellrock Technology and Synaptec) are take the new technologies and solutions to the marketplace including an AI-driven software platform which underpins the monitoring of power generation assets to maximise operational life and safe operations.
Following a successful fund bid, Power Networks Demonstration Centre (PNDC), as part of the University of Strathclyde, will be part of a revolutionary design and trial of next generation digital substations. This project, led by UK Power Networks, hopes to release 1.4GW of capacity across the UK – enough to power more than 700,000 homes – save consumers more than £750 million and to offset more than 19m tonnes of harmful CO2 emissions by 2050.
The project, known as Constellation, will install pioneering intelligence in substations to enable the deployment of smart applications – for example to optimise distribution network utilisation – to deliver customer benefits. If successful, the project will help the energy sector contribute further to net-zero targets whilst reducing the need for investment in additional infrastructure.
A project which takes inspiration from the fins of marine animals to design flexible material Wave Energy Converters is one of two led by Strathclyde to be awarded a share of £7.5m funding. Researchers are developing and testing cutting-edge new wave energy technologies to help the UK achieve its Net Zero goal.
A total of eight projects, supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, part of UK Research and Innovation, will build on the UK’s leading role in marine wave energy to overcome challenges to develop devices that capture the energy generated by waves and convert it into a renewable source of electricity. Wave Energy Converters (WECs) transform the kinetic and/or potential energy of ocean waves into electricity.
“Heat trapped in 600 km3 of disused mine-workings in the Central Belt of Scotland could meet up to 8% of Scotland’s domestic heating demand.”
Natural heat stored within the earth is known as geothermal energy and can be used for heating water and space. University of Glasgow have been researching the potential to tap into geothermal energy as a form of low-carbon heat.