Thursday, 26 March 2009

"Open talk" - Something’s changing … its out of the bag

A moment to reflect.

Am I the only person thinking there’s a new undercurrent bubbling to the surface and that the “its too late" scenario is becoming more mainstream in discussions?

Views that were once the reserve of the true “beard brigade” are suddenly hitting executive level around the dinner table. Comments that 2 years ago were made in jest, are now being discussed with seriousness. Renewable Energy Deployment is now a question of “survival” projects not “nice to haves”.

When you start seeing local people take control of the “bottom up” people influencing and start forming sustainable living communities and clubs… that’s interesting.

In our office we have the privilege of open and “off line” discussions with some real experts across the world. We hear a lot of views and we form a lot of views. Some of those we choose not to discuss. The implications are too far reaching and catastrophic to contemplate. It’s a bit like string theory. We have to get on with the day job – placing people in some of the greatest sustainability projects of our time.

Outside the office we tend to keep our “far right or far left” views to ourselves. But seriously I really have been sensing a step change this last month. Just look at the media and reflect on your conversations over this last month. There is massaging and undercurrents bubbling in the media. A willingness – almost an acceptance - at conversational level with people in our industry that they think “it’s too late”.

Subtle, but very definitely there. What do you think?

And what is the new age term for “green doomsayer?” – lets create one – a prize to the best submission ... I challenge you!

Debby Lloyd
Managing Director, EcoSearch

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

RSPB changes sides!

The Wind Energy sector gained another supporter today, and one that had previously been protesting against it.

I was surprised to read this morning on the BBC news and then the Times (just to reassure myself it was true!) that the RSPB have significantly changed their tune with regards to their attitude to Wind Farms, and are now calling on the government to set firm targets for developing wind energy and saying that it would be “disastrous” if wind power in the UK was wasted. The RSPB commissioned a report from the Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP), which found the UK lagging far behind in the drive for wind power.

The ornithologists, who previously campaigned against Wind Farms because they believed they could interfere with migration routes and be dangerous, have been obstructive to Wind Farms (the RSPB led the campaign to prevent the construction of a wind farm on the Isle of Lewis). They now believe that the UK is behind its targets and that wind energy projects should be pushed. They still want areas to be mapped out to avoid certain habitats, but now recognise that climate change is a more dangerous threat to many species – the rising temperatures will drive many birds, and other wildlife, away from their current homes.

It looks like wind energy may have earned itself a significant ally.

By Clare Buxton
Sector Lead for Wind Energy, EcoSearch

Monday, 23 March 2009

Cast Your Vote for Planet Earth on Saturday at 20:30

I am talking about Earth Hour of course.

Earth Hour began in Sydney in 2007 as one city making a powerful statement about the urgency of climate change action by turning out their lights. In 2008 Earth Hour went global.

The concept is to use your light switch to cast a vote.
  • Leave your lights on and you vote for climate change
  • Switch your lights off and you vote for planet earth
We hope that you will be turning your lights off on Saturday 28th March 2009 at 20:30 and casting your vote for planet earth.

Local Politics and Green – who has an SME IT solution?

Last Thursday I attended the local West Berkshire Green Forum. An interesting mix of organisations attended – some local SMEs interested in being “more green” and some major corporates keen to explain their green credentials – Vodafone & AWE (Atomic Weapons Establishment) to name but two. Now there’s an interesting mix! Impressively AWE has a whole team of environmentalists (including Newt catchers). Add to this the usual Local Authority Element (being dragged down in pointless detailed discussion on car charging and sharing problems from M4 services on the morning commute into London). You get the picture I’m sure.

People - there are bigger issues out there to solve, and smaller projects to crack on with that are not so fraught with complexity!

Strength of feeling was running high as you can imagine with Vodafone (unfairly in my opinion) being harangued by a “green vocalist” on landfill. I’m all for challenge in the corporate space but not when it’s unconstructive, argumentative and frankly embarrassing.

One thing was clear however from the SME sector. The willingness to act was being hampered by a) lack of money for investment, b) confusion on products and services c) time d) in some cases red tape regulation.

Couldn’t help but think there’s a great need for an SME software programme that asks you questions and at the “click of a button” prints off a simple action list based on your input …. Plus independently recommends products, services and solutions to get you from A – Z on green initiatives in the company. Simples. I’m not talking about a carbon footprint calculation here either. I’m talking holistic top to bottom sustainability road map. If you have the brains – give me a shout, I’ve got the investor that would probably do it with you and around 50 companies that you could trial it with and a wealth of talent that would help you build it.

By Debby Lloyd
Managing Director, EcoSearch

Friday, 20 March 2009

News Bites from EWEC

The European Wind Energy Conference took place in Marseille this week from 16th - 19th March. We have pulled together a couple of interesting videos from the event, produced by Quadrant MC.

From Ronald Sunden, CEO of LM Glasfiber & EWEC 2009 Conference Chair.

And for an overview of the wind industries financial future:

For more interviews and other videos, take a look at these search results from YouTube.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Using Twitter to get the most out of Conference Networking

Now that we are in the age of Blackberries and web 2.0, is it any wonder that the way we approach networking is evolving?

Most of us manage our contacts using a service like LinkedIn or Xing. This can help us stay in touch, find new and interesting people and discuss all manner of business.

Some people are starting to realise the benefits of using Twitter (a young and rapidly growing networking site) to give industry events an extra depth. The service has, until recently been the play ground of geeks and techies and is only just starting to show its immense power for Business. Here are just a few benefits of “tweeting” at a conference.
Discovery of new people and organisations:

This week the European Wind Energy Conference is taking place in Marseille. Twitter’s immediacy means that you can find out what’s happening right now. The image below is taken from a twitter search to show who is talking about the event.

You can use twitter search in the early stages of an event to find out who else is there so you can start following them and receiving their updates.

Maximise Learning:

It isn’t possible to attend every single session at a conference or visit every single stand. Attendees often twitter live from lecture and panel sessions as they are happening to let their network know the juiciest insights and the biggest revelations they are being privy to.

Of course some conferences are tweeted more extensively, and using more sophisticated techniques, than others. It all depends on how many attendees are using the service. I was at the Social Networking World Forum in London last week and found the event to be very thoroughly covered by the ‘twittersphere’.

I have highlighted my use of a Hashtag in the above tweet. Hashtags are an informal way of making it easier to search for the tweets you want to find. If everyone at the event put #snwf somewhere in their tweets, I would only have to search for those four letters in order to see everything that was happening.

Never feel left out again:

It’s not always possible to attend every conference in your niche. Now you can “listen” to what’s happening by simply running a twitter search even if you are unable to attend. It doesn’t stop there, sometimes people are nice enough to tweet links to photos so that you can see what’s happening. The twitpic service makes this really easy.

Keep listening and get more value after the event:

Sometimes it would be nice to know what everyone else thought of the conference in more than 140 characters! After conferences, a lot of people write blog posts and articles about their experiences and what they learned. These posts and articles are often linked to with tweets in the days following a conference, so don’t stop listening just because the event is over.

How to get in on the action:
  • Set up a twitter account for free 
  • Use the search function to find some people with similar interests to follow. You can follow anyone you find interesting on twitter, it’s all about discovery
  • If you are going to be attending an event make sure you tweet about it and search for others that might be doing the same. 
The next big event that EcoSearch will be attending is All-Energy ’09 in Aberdeen on 20th & 21st May. The hashtag for this event should be #AE09.

You can learn more about Twitter on Wikipedia.

By Katharine Robinson,
Research Associate
Twitter: @EcoSearch

Thursday, 12 March 2009

The Titans of Wind

Last week saw the announcement of some very exciting plans for future offshore wind farms in the UK: Two consortiums of colossal size and power have been created with the aim of winning rights to develop large scale wind power generation farms in alignment with the Crown Estate’s proposed high potential zones off the coast of the UK.

Where there is nothing stopping an individual company bidding on its own for a zone, there has been much talk in the industry over the last 6 months or so about the sensitive process of forming partnerships, JVs and consortiums. However, the weight and power of those consortiums was really hammered home this week, with the announcement of two of the newly created consortiums bringing together giant European players in the energy industry: Airtricity (recently acquired by SSE) will join RWE npower renewables (the UK subsidiary of RWE Innogy), Statkraft and StatoilHydro to prepare a joint bid under the consortium name of Forewind, project managed by Peter Raftery, a well respected heavy weight and long-term employee of Airtricity. To compete with them, DONG Energy, E.ON and Fred. Olsen Renewables has also announced that they have formed a consortium to bid for a piece of the offshore wind action.

I don’t know why it surprised me so much, but the brute force of these players all working together really hammered home to me the sheer volume and seriousness which this next round of offshore wind farm development will bring to the UK’s renewable energy capacity. Developing renewable energy projects is very expensive and requires a great deal of initial capital. The application process alone, to gain consent for a multi-MW wind farm can cost up to £200,000 and the current acceptance rate is only one out of three applications, so it is no surprise really that it will be the larger and richer organisations who are leading the bids. With giants like these joining forces how can the smaller, less cash rich, specialists even try to compete?

The 10 Scottish offshore zones (with a combined potential capacity of nearly 6.5GW) that were released in February, have also been dominated by the European Utility giants – Airtricity (SSE), Dong, E.ON, Npower and Scottish Renewables all being awarded zones. It is good to see that Fluor (working with Airtricity), SeaEnergy (working with Airtricity and with Npower) and Mainstream – ex-Airtricity boss O’Connor’s new baby – have also seen a share of the action. Mind you, Fluor may not be such a big name in Wind Energy, but as a Fortune 500 company with 60 office locations in 6 continents, it is hardly an SME! Will the second tier players (in terms of size, not speciality) also get a share of the English offshore action, or will it be dominated by the titans of energy generation? And does it really matter? It might be nice to see more variation of asset owners, but given the expense that is obviously going to be needed (just look at the quoted prices for DONG/E.ON/Masdar’s London Array project) it’s hardly any surprise that it will be the companies with the deepest pockets (and the proven track records) who will be footing the bills!

The round 3 projects are going to be high value, high visibility and high importance projects that will be absolutely crucial to helping the UK deliver its 2020 renewable energy targets.

By Clare Buxton
Sector Lead for Wind Energy

Six Months of EcoSearch’s Blog

EcoSearch has now been blogging here on for six months and this will make our 54th post. It really doesn’t feel like it’s been that long.

Today I thought I would bring you a few highlights from’s first six months.
I also thought it was interesting to note that our readers come from all over the world. In the last month we have had readers from over 30 different countries and territories. Since the launch of our ‘readership top five’ has looked something like this:
  1. UK and Ireland
  2. USA
  3. Germany
  4. Netherland
  5. India
Feel free to let us know in the comments section below what makes you stop by for a read.

By Katharine Robinson
Research Associate & Blog Administrator

Monday, 2 March 2009

Is the UK being left behind in the Cleantech race?

Britain has stated, and repeatedly so, that it will lead the way in developing clean technology. Our Government has promised to “lead the world” on its spending path out of economic slump – but it is failing.

One of the most comprehensive studies of green stimuli been introduced across the globe puts Britain near the bottom of the international trade league. China, for example, has devoted well over a hundred times as much money to recession-beating environmental measures, despite being castigated as an international laggard in tackling pollution.

This sort of information will embarrass Gordon Brown, who has said the UK will spark “a low carbon economy.” And it contradicts his repeated insistence that green measures are "imperative" as a "key driver" of future economic growth. He returned to the theme a couple of days ago in his speech to the Labour Party's National Policy Forum. And a policy document published to complement his address calls for Britain "to lead the world in building the low carbon society with a low carbon economy".

The report (published by HSBC) reveals that Britain has, so far, devoted only $2.1bn (£1.5bn) to a green stimulus, less than a third of France's $7.2bn and less than a sixth of Germany's $13.8bn. China's spending, at $221.3bn, is more than 110 times that of the UK.

This makes no mention of the sudden appearance of the US on the clean tech spending scene. The Administration’s plan of spending $83 billion (out of $787 billion) on clean technology is phenomenal for a country that also only just admitted there is a climate change issue.

My concern is the UK government is all talk and no trousers when it comes to clean technology. We are in danger of being rapidly overtaken by other nations, which in 20 – 30 years time may mean that to implement clean technology we have to import the technology.

Let’s get to the front of this space and become the technology exporter for a change!

Other Articles that may interest you:
America is open for Green Business - next stop Carbon Valley -
Government timetable slip means fossil fuels will trump renewable energy, says CLA -
UK needs to invest billions to secure power-study -

By Steven Rogers
Sector Lead for Carbon & Renewable Energy Engineering