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Motoring news

Audi’s new Q cars

April 12 2017

Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...

Business news

Major renewables energy boost from Contracts for Difference

October 3 2014

Offshore wind developers could be set to benefit from a new round of Government subsidies for renewable energy following a larger-than-expected Westminster funding commitment. UK Energy Minister Ed Davey yesterday announced a new tranche of support for renewable projects, with industry body Scottish Renewables saying the scheme, over 15 years and worth up to £300 million in its first year, could boost prospects for a sector still being courted by officials in Fife and Dundee. A competitive auction for the new Contracts for Difference will begin later this autumn, with up to £235m per annum available for offshore wind projects following large-scale reform of the energy markets. The subsidy agreements guarantee operators a minimum price for the power generated by their installations, providing certainty for investors looking for a return on their capital. Mr Davey and his colleagues at the Department for Energy and Climate Change expect the procedure to help deliver new green energy while lowering average annual bills by more than £40 by 2030. Solar and onshore wind projects will compete for a smaller yearly pot of £65m, reflecting their position as already viable technologies. “We are transforming the UK’s energy sector, dealing with a legacy of underinvestment to build a new generation of clean, secure power supplies that reduce our reliance on volatile foreign markets,” Mr Davey said. “By making projects compete for support, we’re making sure that consumers get the best possible deal as well as a secure and clean power sector,” he added. Scottish Renewables said that the budget boost “may potentially increase the likelihood of projects securing support in the first allocation round later this month”. But the industry body also called for DECC to reveal details of future funding rounds, and said the department must redouble efforts to secure European state aid clearance for special CfDs suited to the remote Scottish islands. In March, energy giant and major renewable developer SSE announced it would take the first phase of its huge Seagreen wind project in the outer Firth of Tay and Forth no further than the planning consent stage, amid a lack of confidence in the viability of the UK’s offshore wind sector. Its decision followed the exclusion of the project from UK Government subsidy schemes. But it also said it would continue to invest in the Beatrice prospect in the Moray Firth which did pick up public backing while cutting its equity interest from 75% to 50%. A spokesman for the group last night said its plans for Seagreen “remain unchanged”, but added that SSE would make no comment on its approach to the new CfD auction because of commercial confidentiality constraints. The three-phase 3.5GW development is by far the largest of three major wind arrays being pursued by developers within striking distance of Scotland’s east coast. At present rates, it would be expected to cost in excess of £10bn. Both the Neart na Gaoithe windfarm, off Fife Ness, and the Inch Cape prospect off the coast of Angus missed out on a subsidy award last year after DECC judged offshore wind projects elsewhere in the UK to be more affordable. Mainstream Renewable Power, developer of the 450MW Neart na Gaoithe, has since indicated it would seek approval for the project under the outgoing renewable obligation certificate system. No one was available for comment last night. Repsol Nuevas Energias, which owns a 51% stake in the 905MW Inch Cape windfarm, did not respond to The Courier’s request for comment. Meanwhile GDF Suez, which had backed plans for a £200m windfarm on Lewis, has pulled out of the project, citing delays to a subsea cable needed to carry the electricity generated to the mainland.

UK & World

Technology to make Scotland a tidal power leader

August 18 2010

A device which aims to harness the power of the tides off Scotland's coast is thought to be the most tested in the world. Hammerfest Strom UK, a subsidiary of the Norwegian tidal power developer Hammerfest Strom AS, received a £3.9m grant from the Carbon Trust in February to build and test the 1MW tidal power device at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney. One MW of power is enough to power around 1000 homes. The HS1000 device is based on a 300kW prototype which has been installed in Kvalsundet in Norway for six years. That prototype was the first turbine in the world to convert kinetic energy in tidal waters to electricity and deliver to the grid in 2004, and is regarded as one of the most advanced tidal power technologies in the world. With ScottishPower Renewables confirming plans to install the device as a prelude to a 10MW tidal array in the Sound of Islay, Scotland will soon effectively be home to the largest demonstration tidal power project in the world. Keith Anderson, director of ScottishPower Renewables, said, "We firmly believe that the tidal turbine developed by Hammerfest Strom is the most advanced and rigorously tested device anywhere in the world. "The deployment of the HS1000 device is a major milestone in Scotland's ambitions to tap in to this new source of energy." After successful initial tests, the turbine in Kvalsundet has been going through a test period where it continues to produce electricity for the Norwegian grid and is monitored to detect further improvements in technology that could be applied to future generations of the turbine. ScottishPower Renewables confirmed it is to enter its Ness of Duncansby tidal farm in the Pentland Firth into the £10m Saltire Prize for marine energy innovation. The prize has been put up by the Scottish Government to attract interest in the sector, with the cash going to the team that can demonstrate a commercially viable wave of tidal stream energy technology that achieves the greatest volume of electrical output over a continuous two-year period. Over 150 registrations of interest from 31 countries have already been received.

Business news

Glasses raised to whisky-fuelled cars courtesy of Blackford’s Tullibardine Distillery

February 26 2015

A Scottish company has become the first in the world to produce biofuel capable of powering cars from whisky production leftovers. The breakthrough was born in Perthshire as the residues came from the Tullibardine Distillery in Blackford. Celtic Renewables is now seeking funding from the Department for Transport to build its first demonstration facility at the Grangemouth petrochemical plant by 2018. Company owners estimate it could be the market leader in an industry worth more than £100 million to the UK economy. The Edinburgh company, a spin-out from the Biofuel Research Centre at Edinburgh Napier University, has manufactured the first samples of bio-butanol from the by-products of whisky fermentation. It has spent the last year developing its process as part of a £1m programme funded by the Department for Energy and Climate Change under its Energy Entrepreneurs Fund. Celtic Renewables, in partnership with the BioBase Europe Pilot Plant in Belgium, produced the first samples of bio-butanol from waste, using a process called Acetone-Butanol-Ethanol fermentation. ABE fermentation was developed in the UK a century ago but died out in competition with the petrochemical industry. Bio-butanol is now recognised as an advanced biofuel a direct replacement for petrol and Celtic is seeking to reintroduce the process to Europe for the first time since the 1960s, using the millions of tonnes of annual whisky production residues as its raw material. The biofuel is produced from draff the sugar-rich kernels of barley which are soaked in water for whisky fermentation and pot ale, the copper-containing yeasty liquid left over from distillation. Professor Martin Tangney, Celtic’s president, said: “Showing the world our first sample of biofuel produced from whisky by-products is a proud moment. “We have successfully taken a defunct technology and adapted it to current market conditions, attracting the investment and partners required to scale up to industrial production and prove this works at scale.” Winners of the DfT’s £25m advanced biofuel demonstration competition will receive funding of up to £12m over three years to build an operational biofuel facility that can produce at least one million litres of biofuel a year. Chief executive Mark Simmers said “This historic sample could herald a new era in sustainable biofuel and the birth of a UK industry worth £100 million a year.” Professor Wim Soetaert, chief executive of BioBase Europe, said: “We are excited about the future with Celtic Renewables and we are committed to turn our collaboration into a major success.” Energy Secretary Ed Davey hailed the breakthrough.

UK & World

Scotland to embrace role in green energy

January 14 2011

Scotland's key role in developing renewable sources that could power the continent has been acknowledged by the European Commission. The commission, which is the executive of the European Union responsible for day-to-day decisions, has just published a report praising Scotland's investment in offshore renewable technology. oth Tayside and Fife hope to capitalise on the predicted renewables energy boom as they are both in a perfect location to service offshore wind turbines in the North Sea. The EC report also calls for the development of an integrated European grid to make it easier for countries to purchase energy obtained from renewable sources such as wind and wave. Scotland is already working with nine other countries to create a North Sea grid. This would allow power companies to export any excess energy to the continent for increased profit. The report, by grid co-ordinator Georg Adamowitsch, states, "The North Sea has different conditions and potentials for the generation of renewable energy. "Scotland is a fine example of how different offshore technologies (wind parks, wave and tidal technology, onshore potentials, various wind potentials) can be combined to form a coherent approach. "To be able to use all these elements as part of a European sustainable energy policy, these Scottish renewables have to be connected to an integrated European grid. According to experts, offshore capacities of up to 68 gigawatts can be installed in the North Sea off Scotland by 2050. "This can therefore become a key region in the use of offshore potentials. The EU co-ordinator will continue his discussions with the Scottish experts so as to clarify the economic and regulatory aspects required for an integrated European offshore grid." Scottish Government energy minister Jim Mather said, "Scotland will be at the heart of plans to deliver a North Sea offshore grid to interconnect European electricity networks. "We are playing a full part in its development, plugging Scotland in to be able to export even greater amounts of clean, green energy, helping cut emissions and ensuring the future security of European energy supplies. "We are working closely with other countries to develop the grid and I am therefore pleased that our vast offshore resources have today been recognised as being of European significance. "This report is further evidence that we have used our powers very successfully to create a strong support framework for all renewable energy technologies." The report also highlights the work of Aberdeen University in developing a DC transmission network using DC/DC trans formers. The university work involves investigating new technology to support the development of the North Sea Grid and has been awarded European Research Council funding of more than £600,000 to develop design and manage software for the grid.


Nicola Sturgeon says renewable energy schemes boost Scotland’s communities by £10m a year

December 4 2015

Scotland's communities are now seeing a £10 million annual benefit as a result of renewable energy projects, the First Minister has said. Nicola Sturgeon made the announcement in a keynote speech to the Scottish Green Energy Awards in Edinburgh. She said the figures highlighted her administration's commitment to renewable energy and ensuring that local people benefit from energy developments. The figure is recorded in the latest update of the Government's community benefit register, which records the income communities receive from renewable energy schemes ranging from large wind farms to small farm and community projects. Ms Sturgeon said: "Our national guidance has encouraged developers to increase the value of the community benefits they offer. Communities across Scotland are now receiving over £10 million a year from onshore renewable projects. That figure is set to rise. "Local energy now helps to fund energy efficiency schemes, fuel poverty alleviation programmes and befriending projects which reduce isolation for elderly people. They meet local priorities because they are run by local communities." The First Minister, who is due to visit the UN Climate Change talks in Paris, also called for the UK Government to review its policies to ensure energy security by investing in new technologies. The Government at Westminster last month announced it is axing its £1 billion competition to develop carbon capture and storage technology on power stations. Ms Sturgeon said: "I've been left astonished by the UK Government's decision to cut its subsidies to renewables. For those of you in the sector, the sense of frustration must be even stronger. "And that frustration must be compounded when you see the UK Government tying itself to a very expensive 35-year contract for nuclear generation - when it could be supporting new renewable technology whose costs will continue to come down over time."


Business leader calls on energy strategy to help provide jobs boost

April 25 2016

Scotland could see thousands of new jobs created if the country becomes a world leader in new energy technology, according to a business leader. Liz Cameron, chief executive of the Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC), said as many as 5,500 new jobs could be created across the country as new technologies allowing excess energy to be stored until it is needed are developed. She made the comments as the SCC urged whoever wins May's Holyrood election to work with the UK Government to produce a 50-year energy strategy for Scotland. The SCC also called on the next Scottish Government to "invest to enable Scotland to become a world-leading centre for the design and application of innovative energy storage solutions - a market worth an estimated £1.5 billion with an opportunity to create 5,500 jobs in 30 locations across Scotland". Ms Cameron stressed the energy industry was key to Scotland's economy as she insisted there must be a "coherent energy plan" for the next five decades. She said: "Energy is what enables every part of our economy to flourish and the various components of the sector are huge economic contributors in their own right. "From a strategic point of view, it is vital that Scotland, and indeed the United Kingdom, develops a coherent energy plan for the future over a 50-year period. "That level of forward planning is essential if businesses are to have the confidence to make investment decisions and would put an end to recent uncertainty in the sector due to fundamental changes in policy such as the UK Government's decision to shift the goalposts on renewable energy policy following the 2015 general election." She continued: "Scotland already has a significant installed capacity of wind energy infrastructure but the future of this industry will be dictated by the development of new technologies to store excess electricity production for use at times of peak demand. "Scotland has the potential to become a world leader in this area, with the right investment, helping to increase the efficiency and lower the costs of renewable energy as well as rooting skills and talent in Scotland. "This market is worth an estimated £1.5 billion with the opportunity to create 5,500 new jobs in 30 locations across Scotland. "The next Scottish Government will have a role to play in this agenda with its responsibilities for renewable energy, planning policy and a range of business taxes. "It can help to create a better environment for investment in energy solutions, including small scale energy generation and energy saving methods in commercial properties."

Business news

European funding builds knowledge at architects John D Crawford

January 2 2013

AN ANGUS architectural practice plans to build more energy efficient homes in Scotland after tapping into European funding to boost its employees’ skills. Montrose firm John D Crawford reaped the reward from European social funding, accessed via the Skills Development Scotland’s Low Carbon Skills Fund, which gives companies the opportunity to apply for up to £12,500 towards employee training costs. The fund can be accessed by all Scottish businesses with up to 250 employees. It is geared towards allowing businesses to increase the skills and qualifications of their workforce. The architects firm directed the funding to help three members of its staff to learn more about creating ultra-low-energy buildings which need little power for heating or cooling. Now the firm said it intends to utilise the new skills of its staff to build more ‘Passive Homes’ throughout Courier Country and beyond that can be heated by using a number of energy sources, including sunlight coming in through windows. Senior technician David Paton said: “We used this as part of our continuous professional development plan and I would say the training was very useful and will definitely benefit the business. “As responsible designers we actively encourage and advise our clients on sustainability and renewable technologies to their projects,” he added. “Although there is no requirement for existing properties to have these technologies installed, all new houses have to have a small element of these technologies to pass current building regulations. “Very soon all new homes will have to be completely sustainable or up to passive house standard.” Although the Skills Development Scotland’s Low Carbon Skills Fund cannot be used for statutory staff training, a number of levels of training in Scotland are eligible for support. These include training in renewable energy, low carbon technologies and microgeneration; energy efficiency, environmental and clean technologies; waste management and reuse; and reducing carbon in supply and energy management. business@thecourier.co.uk

Motoring news

New Audi range is electrifying

June 7 2017

Audi has been relentless in its expansion over the past decade, scattering new models like confetti. It shows no sign of slowing down as we head towards the end of the decade. If anything, in fact, the company is increasing the pace of its model range expansion. The most recent news is the announcement of two new “Q” models – which will bring its SUV range to five – and three all-electric e-tron models. The German car maker intends that at least 30 per cent of its sales will be of electric or part-electric models by 2025, and aims to have the technology available for driverless city cars within four years. The plans were outlined to Audi shareholders during the brand’s AGM in Neckarsulm, Germany. Chairman Rupert Stadler said: “We are rejuvenating our model portfolio enormously and will renew five existing core model series by mid-2018. “In addition, we will expand our successful Q family by 2019 with two new concepts – the Audi Q8 and the Audi Q4 – and we will launch our battery-electric e-tron models.” The Q4 and Q8 will have coupe-like rooflines similar to BMW’s X4 and X6 and the Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe and GLE Coupe. Three new electric Audis will appear by 2020, and the brand will then introduce electric versions across its core model ranges. Audi is also taking over the development of autonomous car technology across the Volkswagen Group and the first examples of driverless cars will be launched early in the next decade. Meanwhile the new ‘myAudi’ programme will establish a digital platform for online services across the range. The latter half of 2017 will see Audi update its luxury flagship models. A new A8 will be unveiled later this month and will be followed by a new A7. Audi haven’t confirmed yet but it seems likely we will soon see replacements for other older models in the range such as the A1, A6 and Q3. jmckeown@thecourier.co.uk


£6.9m European funding for green energy projects in Tayside and Fife

March 21 2011

Energy minister Jim Mather has announced a £6.9 million package of support from the European Regional Development Fund for renewable energy and low-carbon economy projects, including those in Fife and Tayside. The funding includes £1.05 million to the Energy Technology Partnership of Scotland's universities to enable the partnership to expand and consolidate its position as Europe's leading energy research hub. It also includes £861,000 to Fife Council to help the development of the Methil Low Carbon Investment Park, £800,000 for Fife's Adam Smith College to help companies develop new and innovative products, and an £831,000 grant to provide skills training at Dundee College. In addition, £184,000 will be given to Perth and Kinross Council for East of Scotland Renewables. Mr Mather described the money as "significant investments" from the European Regional Development Fund. He said, "This will help position Scotland firmly at the forefront of innovation, research and development in clean, green renewable energy and deliver the commitment set out in our low carbon economic strategy to support low-carbon innovation. "The breadth of projects being supported from academic-led initiatives to local authority and enterprise agency programmes demonstrate how the development of a low-carbon economy has become central to our growth strategy. "These projects will help us to sustain the economic recovery under way in Scotland and further capitalise on our natural competitive advantages in renewable energy, which are crucial to our future success as a nation." The allocations for projects announced are: £1.05 million to the Energy Technology Partnership Knowledge Exchange Network an alliance of Scottish universities engaged in energy-related research and development. £800,000 to Adam Smith College Collaborative Innovative Networks. This will provide companies with tools and expertise to create innovative products, processes and services that have minimal environmental impact. £861,000 to Fife Council Fife Energy Zone. This will assist development of the Methil Low Carbon Investment Park, providing a location for manufacturers and businesses within the renewables supply chain near Energy Park Fife. £831,000 to Dundee College Dundee Renewables Training Tower. This will be a full-size reconditioned turbine with a mixture of simulation models, to meet business demand for skills training in renewable energy and energy resource efficiency areas. £184,000 to Perth and Kinross Council East of Scotland Renewables. Led by Perth and Kinross Council, a partnership of local authorities in the east of Scotland will work to assist rural small to medium enterprises to create business clusters and develop supply chain relationships in support of the renewable energy sector. Dr Simon Puttock, executive director of the Energy Technology Partnership, said, "The Energy Technology Partnership (ETP) welcomes this award to accelerate the development of low-carbon technologies. "Our new Knowledge Exchange Network will greatly increase collaboration between industry and ETP's world-class research base, for the benefit of business and Scotland's low-carbon economy." Adrian Gillespie, director of Energy and Low Carbon Technologies, said, "Scottish Enterprise is pleased to have secured European funding for the Energetica project and the Offshore Wind Supply Chain programme. "Some of Scotland's greatest economic potential lies in developing a globally competitive industry based on our renewable and low-carbon energy resources. "These projects will support development of our renewables sector both by providing a 21st century business environment and world leading supply chain for the next generation of energy industry." Christina Potter, principal of Dundee College, said, "The development of renewable energy is a key economic opportunity for the city. Dundee College has a crucial role to play in ensuring the supply of skills for this emerging industry. "This facility allows the training we deliver to be industry focused and in line with employer skills and health and safety requirements."