Saturday, December 08, 2007

EMEC wins award

Now recovered from the Scottish Renewables Green Energy Awards dinner on Thursday, at which I'm delighted to report EMEC won an award!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

AquaBuoy prototype sinks - allegedly

It seems that the 2MW trial Aquabuoy prototype off the Oregon coast has met a watery end.

The news is here.

It's not really clear what this means right now, but this strongly suggests that OPD's approach of taking inordinate care with the prototype device may prove to be the right one.

Finavera, Aquabuoy's owner, has yet to update its website, but the MD is quoted as saying that the device was only engineered to survive 3 months: it survived for only two, and surely wasn't intended to sink without trace at the end of the period?

On the encouraging side, Finavera is telling the world that the prototype delivered what the company hoped.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Councils

GLG Scholar Consult with Me: John Aldersey-Williams

For a while now, I've been a Council Member. The Councils are organisations of experts organised by the Gerson Lehrman Group, which offer expert consultations on a wide range of matters to interested parties (often investment banks or other financial institutions).

Gerson Lehrman has just produced the above graphic, which I've now incorporated into my blogspot profile too. If you'd be interested to have a specific discussion on the issues raised in this blog, or on other renewables topics, please click on it to make contact via Gerson Lehrman.

Pretty soon....

you'll be able to walk across the Bay of Fundy, leaping from tidal device to tidal device, without touching the water.

The map (thanks Google) shows where the Bay of Fundy lies, on the eastern seaboard of North America.

Now Marine Current Turbines has announced an agreement with the Maritime Tidal Energy Consortium to develop a project in the Bay of Fundy. It joins Open Hydro, and Ocean Renewable Power in planning projects in this area, which benefits from the highest tidal ranges in the world. There are also some suggestions out there on the internet that a tidal barrage might be an option.

The question in my mind is whether there are areas with attractive stream speeds too, but this entry on the Bay of Fundy blog clearly recognises that sites are available.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Mackie's - Sustainable ice cream

Mackie's Ice Cream - a proud Scottish company - now has a little logo on each and every pot of its ice cream showing that it is made with renewably generated electricity from these turbines.

Lots more details here...
Nice one Mackies.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Neptune re-awakened

Interesting news that Scottish and Southern Energy has combined its tidal device - the Neptune - with Aquamarine's Oyster wave technology and some venture capital money.

Check out the press release here

Monday, October 01, 2007

EMEC Tidal open for business!

I spent Friday on the Orcadian island of Eday, watching Alex Salmond open the EMEC Tidal facility. If you look at this carefully, you can see the OpenHydro turbine in the background, just next to Neil Kermode, EMEC's MD. (Alex managed to find some schoolchildren to pose with later on in Eday Comunity School, but I didn't get a photo of that.)

We took a ferry from Kirkwall to the island, looping around the OpenHydro turbine which has been in the Falls of Warness since earlier this year. The picture clearly shows the bow wave around the device in an equinoctal spring tide - about 7 knots.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

WaveHub green light

Not content with getting its funding finalised earlier in the year, the WaveHub has now obtained development consent from BERR (formerly DTI).

Assuming the local surfers who are reportedly unhappy with the project don't derail things, this should mean development should kick off pretty soon. Exciting news for wave developers across the UK!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Alkane Energy pulls out

News from the Yorkshire Post- apparently Alkane Energy pulled an application for development of one of its Coal Mine Methane Energy Parks in Akworth Pit near Pontefract.

Local objectors were concerned that erection of the coal mine methane plant would impact property and amenity values in the area, and Alkane pulled the application shortly before the Council meeting which was expected to reject the plan.

Although Alkane has said that it might reapply in the future, it sounds pretty dead right now.

This is disappointing for a struggling company which is trying to make an honest buck reducing methane emissions to the atmosphere. It's hard to believe that a new small scale power station is somehow worse than a disused coal pit, but the locals clearly have strong views.

WATTS conference - impressions

The WATTS conference seems to have been a success, although the overall vibe is that the wave and tidal industries are only beginning to come to grips with the breadth of challenges faced before commercial scale marine energy farms are in the water.

There's not just technology risk - although there's plenty of that - but also regulatory and consenting risk and difficulties of access to funding.

It's becoming clear that there are stacks of Environmental Impact Assessment and other monitoring and baselining required. The worry is that the costs of all of this will kill off any smaller wave and tidal demonstration and pre-commercial projects which can find the funding. Is this emerging industry being loaded with unnecessary costs at a stage when it really can't afford them?

Monday, September 03, 2007

It's hard to believe the ripping tidal resource in the Solent when it looks like this

I'm crossing the Solent again today, on the way to the REA WATTS (Wave and Tidal Technology Symposium). It's a slightly strained acronym but should be an interesting event.

The Solent was like a millpond, until you saw the tidal stream around buoys and fixed structures.

I'm looking forward to buttonholing the Southampton University guy who put a tidal turbine under Yarmouth Pier. I hope he got good results - wouldn't it be marvellous to see a whole new generation of piers being built to access tidal resources and get people closer to the sea?

More tomorrow, after the conference

Friday, August 17, 2007

Tidal range - Yarmouth mill

Here are the two photos of Yarmouth Mill - taken at roughly high tide, and mid-to-low tide in a relatively springy part of the tidal cycle.

You can see that the range is about 1 - 1.5 metres at this stage in the cycle. Plenty of tidal range to be getting on with (and large volumes of water to play with)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Tidal, tidal everywhere (again)

Staying in Yarmouth, it's suddenly obvious that our forefathers knew all about the tides and how to use them.

For the first time in about 40 years, I've realised that the old Mill at Yarmouth must have been a tidal mill. A little research turns up this page on Yarmouth's history, which says that a tidal mill has been on the site since the 17th Century, with the current building dating from 1793.

The picture is taken at high tide, or thereabouts, and I'll try to post one at low tide so you can see the tidal range.

So, at least 300 years of tidal power use in Yarmouth!

Horizontal axis wind turbine

Visited the Bembridge windmill - the only extant windmill on the Isle of Wight.

All of the main elements are similar to most of the wind turbines currently available. The main gearbox is in the nacelle, changing the direction of rotation from horizontal to vertical, and you can just about make out the yawing gears at the top, which allow the nacelle to rotate to stay head to wind.

The blade thrust is controlled by reefing the sails, rather than by fancy feathering technologies, and you can see how the blade geometry allows for different angles of attack at different radii from the hub.

The difference is that the majority of power offtake is lower down the tower, where additional gears drive the grinding stones, rather than in the nacelles as at present. Perhaps there's something to learn from our predecessors?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Another Needles trip

Another trip to the Needles today, with a better picture of the tidal effects on the Shingles Bank (the dark in above the lighthouse).

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Tidal, tidal everywhere

I was out walking on Yarmouth Pier (the oldest wooden pier still standing the UK), and came across this sign and buoy. Seems that Southampton University has recognised the potential of the tides off Yarmouth and is trying out a turbine.

I'm planning to to drop them an email ( to try to learn more.

More great tidal resources

Just took a long walk along the chalk ridge forming the backbone of the Isle of Wight, from Freshwater Bay to the Needles. A lovely day, a lovely walk and fantastic views over the approaches to the Solent, including the notorious Shingles Bank.

The difference in the water over the Shingles Bank and in the Needles Channel stood out clearly (it doesn't in this picture, sorry), with clear rough water on the Bank and flat water in the channel.

The tidal streams through here run at 6 knots or so at Spring Tide, but the amenity impact would be an important factor (it's Cowes Week this week, and the Fastnet race with a few hundred yachts streaming through the Needles Channel starts on Sunday).

If someone could find a way of exploiting the tidal streams without upsetting other users of the marine environment, this woudl be a great place to start: generally not too wavey, close to markets, close to ports - magic!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Marine renewables devices

Over the last few weeks, I've had the opportunity to look at three different (distinctly different) marine renewables devices, and the thing that's really impressed me is how much more credible they are than similar devices were only two years ago.

The amount and quality of engineering thinking, simplification and improvement is striking.

The EMEC Board took a trip out to Eday, to inspect the tidal site and the OpenHydro turbine (photo above) this week, and it was really exciting to see this impressive piece of kit in the Eday tidal stream. It wasn't even one of the three I've mentioned above!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

New Value of ROCs Model

Finally, the new Value of ROCs Model is available.

Building from the Red Book dataset, it allows users to develop forecasts of the numbers of ROCs which may be available in the future, depending on the users' assumptions on the proportions of each renewable technology which may come to productive fruition.

We like to think it offers the most powerful, flexible and justifiable forecast for ROC value now available: and of course it includes all of the changes in the Energy White Paper - banding, RPI linkage retention, grandfathering and cofiring rule changes.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Cap on ROC values in Energy White Paper

Has anyone else noticed that the Energy White Paper has effectively capped the value of ROCs after 2015/16 when the headroom mechanism kicks in?

Assuming the 15% target has been met, the target for any year will be set at 6% more than the anticipated delivery of ROCs in that year - effectively limiting the recycle value to 6% of the buyout premium. This must be a slap in the face for people with long term ROC eligible projects (I'm thinking onshore wind), where this was going to be a big part of revenues in later years.

The flip side is that if (and it's a biggish if) additional renewables capacity comes through as a result of banding, at least the bottom won't fall out of the market.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

All-Energy 2007 - "but because it is haaard"

Another May, another All-Energy conference in Aberdeen.

Over the years, the mood seems to have gone up and down at All-Energy, but vibe this year was very positive. Over the years the suit count has increased, but the last couple of years had a rather downbeat feel, as if the renewables community was reaching the conclusion that this was all too difficult.

This year, there was a certain resolution amongst the attendees, as if the industry had collectively adopted Jack Kennedy's ethos - "we chose to do these things, not because they are easy, but because they are haaard".

The release of the Energy White Paper, which I'll be blogging on later, added a frisson of excitement, and the full range of renewables were well represented. By all accounts, we matched the total attendance from last year by lunchtime on the first day!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Scottish Power and Hammerfest Strom

The tidal industry really seems to be picking up momentum, as Scottish Power announces that it has formed a new company to pursue a tidal opportunity in the Pentland Firth, using the technology tested by Statoil in the Hammerfest Strom project. Details from Scottish Power are here.

The press release talks about testing in Scottish Waters (EMEC anyone?), before an international roll out of the technology.

Sounds like the three years testing in Hammerfest has been pretty successful.

Monday, May 07, 2007

OPT taking on water?

Ocean Power Technology, developers of the Power Buoy, successfully closed a $100 million IPO last week at $20/share.

Since then, the shares have fallen to $17.50, suggesting little support at these levels.

It's early days, but let's hope that the sentiment turns and the shares prove a sound investment - the better to stimulate investment in the sector.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Scottish election result determined by Lewis windfarm shock!

So, it seems that the Scottish election has just been conceded by Labour to the Scottish National Party, with the SNP taking 47 seats, and the Labour party 46.

The interesting part here is that the (now former) Western Isles MSP, Alasdair Morrison, said that he supported the proposed Barvas Moor windfarm whereas his SNP opponent said that he supported a local referendum on the windfarm. The seat swung to the SNP (with 687 votes determining the outcome). So if 344 people voted on the basis of the windfarm, that was the determining factor in the Government of Scotland for the next 4 years.

Let's hope Alex Salmond can do a decent job, and can find ways to drive renewables forward north of the border without having to cut other expenditure or raise taxes too much!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Carbon capture from air?

Global research Technologies and Columbia university have announced the successful test of a device to extract carbon dioxide from air. The link is here .

If this works and can be made commercial, it could allow the removal of emissions from a Thai taxi in Iceland, centralising CO2 removal from the atmosphere where it could be used (for enhanced oil recovery, chemical feedstocks or putting the bubbles into Coke).

The article pointedly doesn't say anything about costs or efficiency though, so probably best not to bet the ranch just yet.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

WaveHub crosses the finish line

According to the BBC, it seems that WaveHub has finalised its necessary development funding of £21.5 million from the South West Regional Development Agency. The news story is here:

What's interesting is that the funding appears to come from SWRDA, rather than from what you might think of as more normal sources for emerging technologies - DTI, Carbon Trust, European Sixth or Seventh Framework funding. SWRDA's clearly motivated to try to develop a wave industry in the southwest.

There's competition from EMEC (Orkney) and an Irish test centre in County Cork.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Milibandwagon derailed - for now

The Economist this week talks about how it now looks as if David Miliband will not challenge Gordon for the Labour leadership - - not this month anyway.

Seems to me that if Miliband doesn't challenge, he's a reasonable chance of maintaining his grip on the (possibly enhanced) DEFRA, and that feels like a good thing for continuity of support for renewables and carbon capture, especially if the energy portfolio is folded into an enhanced DEFRA as a bonus for staying out of Gordon's way.

From wee Davie's viewpoint, isn't a sensible strategy to let Gordon have a run at running the country, let him lose the next General Election and then be anointed as the saviour of the Labour Party to take on Dave Cameron?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Chevron joins the blue rush

Just saw this little article, which didn't go into great detail, saying that Chevron has invested in the irish WaveBob technology. The link is here.

I think Chevron is the first of the US companies joining (albeit tentatively) the ranks of oil majors taking an interest in renewables. European companies got there first: BP (solar), Shell (wind, biomass), Total (wind).

Monday, April 02, 2007

Bush whacked by Supremes

Here's a news story to sustainably warm the cockles: the Bush Administration has been told by the Supreme Court that the Clean Air Act does give the Environmental Protection Agency the authority to regulate the CO2 emissions of cars.

This might mean the Federal Government will have to have another look at US emissions standards - which Al Gore tells us are way behind everyone else's already.

Two cheers for the US.

The link is

Best wishes to Camcal 2

The Glasgow Herald reported late last week that Camcal is to be revitalised. Camcal, a manufacturer of wind turbine towers and other large tubular steel structures (like the Pelamis devices), ran out of money late last year, having failed to win enough work to sustain it.

It's been rejuvenated by Business Creation Inc., and will initially be completing a contract for a windfarm project for EWT.

Let's hope that the new Camcal can capture enough of the market to keep it afloat...with a decision expected on the Lewis windfarm in the near future, there's every reason to be optimistic.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Amazing - a whole weekend without renewables or carbon capture in the papers

It seems that this whole weekend has gone by without any newspaper coverage on renewables or carbon capture...maybe it's all the budget coverage.

I'm sure it will be back on the agenda pretty soon.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Budget support for Carbon Capture and Storage

Interesting to see Gordon's announcement of a competition io develop the UK's first full-scale carbon capture and storage demonstration, with the intention of the UK emerging as a dominant force in this important sector

OpenHydro accelerates away from the crowd

While Lunar Energy may have announced a potential 8MW project with E.On, OpenHydro has made some real steps. It has already installed a full scale device in the water at EMEC, and has apparently signed contracts for two commercial projects.

The first to be announced is in the Bay of Fundy, legendary for its tides, where Nova Scotia Power has signed a contract for a demonstration project (

Then today, it announced that it's signed up with Alderney Renewable Energy (a company which has exclusive rights to Alderney's exceptional tidal resources) for the provision of tidal turbines there too (

It seems that OpenHydro is really picking up the pace on commercial implementation of tidal technologies.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Lunar Energy announces 8MW project

It seems that tidal power is picking up some momentum, as Lunar Energy has announced an 8MW project in conjunction with E.On. The proposed project is planned to be deployed on the west coast of the UK and to involve 8 1MW tidal turbines.

But it's best not to get overly excited about any imminent tidal revolution. Although Lunar's project is the largest yet announced, it's important to recognise that Lunar has a number of important hurdles to jump before this project reaches fruition.

The key issues are:
Status of technology: Lunar has yet to build a full scale device, or test at any scale in the sea. These are non-trivial challenges.
Finance: It's not clear whether E.On will be funding the building of the Lunar prototype, or whether Lunar has to close a funding round before this can happen.
Competition: There's plenty out there, in the shape of Marine Current Turbines, Scottish and Southern Energy, SMD Hydrovision, Scotrenewables, Woodshed and others.

But good luck to Lunar for closing a deal with E.On, and let's hope they successfully complete the project.

Welcome to the Redfield Consulting Blog

Redfield Consulting is delighted to announce the launch of its blog, where we'll publish our thoughts on the renewables and carbon capture sectors.