UK Domestic Buildings Energy Efficiency

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Written for the Coursera (MOOC) Class ‘Energy, the Environment and Our Future’ by Pennsylvania State University (March 2014).

In the UK there is concern over future electricity generation since most of the current Coal and Nuclear capacity is approaching end of design life.  No new Nuclear stations have been built since 1995 (Sizewell B), and of the nine in operation (9.2 GW) eight are due to be decommissioned within the next ten years.  Many of them have been extended beyond their design lives already.

Indigenous supplies of North Sea oil and gas is in decline.  The UK imports most of its oil from Norway, and much of its gas.

With ambitious targets set for emissions reductions of CO2, fossil fuel technology is being displaced by renewable energy sources.

Energy efficiency is becoming increasingly important in ensuring energy security.

Summary of Action for UK:

  • Continued and Improved National Investment in Building Insulation
  • Small short-term replacement of Nuclear Capacity
  • Continued development of Wind Energy
  • Continued Research and Development of Tidal and Geothermal Energy
  • Substantial Increase in Pumped Storage Capacity
  • National Focus on Decarbonising Transportation, R&D Investment

Building Insulation

A major component of energy consumption in the UK relates to losses from poor building insulation.  The UK housing stock is approximately 24.5 million homes.

TABLE_1_UK Energy Consumption

Domestic space heating in the UK accounts for 1/5 of total energy consumption. [1]

As a first step in energy conservation, these losses must be reduced by upgrading the thermal performance of sub-standard buildings.  Many buildings in the UK are hundreds of years old, 21% built before 1919.  Those other than new builds over the past decade are likely to have sub-standard insulation.

According to the Energy Saving Trust in an uninsulated home, 20% heat loss through windows & doors, 25% heat loss through the loft/roof space, 33% heat loss through uninsulated cavity walls  and 45% heat loss through uninsulated solid walls. [2]

The Green Deal (2012) is designed to reduce the upfront costs to the consumer of energy efficiency.  Repayment is made through savings on their energy bills.

The Energy Company Obligation (ECO 2013) places a duty on energy companies both to reduce emissions through undertaking solid wall insulation and to tackle fuel poverty by installing central heating systems, replacing boilers, and subsidising cavity wall and loft insulation.  [3]

Housing Stock

According to the English Housing Survey, Housing stock report 2008:

  • Around 22.2 million dwellings in England (26.3 in UK).
  • 15 million dwellings were owner occupied and 3.3 million were privately rented.
  • Remaining 3.9 million were fairly evenly divided between local authorities and housing associations.
  • One in five (21%) dwellings were built before 1919.
  • Three quarters of these older dwellings have been subject to at least some major alterations since they were built and 43% have had extensions or loft conversions added.
  • Dwellings built after 1990 accounted for just 12% of the stock.
  • The majority (81%) of dwellings were houses or bungalows; most of these being two storey houses.
  • Flats made up 19% of the stock.
  • The average useable floor area of dwellings in England was 91m2.
  • One in ten dwellings have attics (either as built and loft conversions).
  • 95% of dwellings were of traditional masonry or timber construction; the majority of these were cavity brick/block.

Although this only applies to England, it is a good approximation for the majority of UK housing. [4]

TABLE_2_UK Housing Stock

There is a housing shortage in the UK, and as the population is increasing, more homes need to be built.  There has been a steady increase in house numbers over the past six years, with new houses built with a good standard of insulation. [5]

TABLE_3_UK Home Insulation

As well as improvements in new housing, the existing housing stock is being improved, in both private dwellings and rented accommodation. [6]

TABLE_4_UK Domestic Energy Cons 2011

Heating in this relatively cold northern European country accounts for about 80% of domestic energy consumption, 60% on space heating alone. [7]

TABLE_5_UK Energy Cons 2011

Insulation in Older Housing Stock 

Houses with solid walls were commonly built before 1930 throughout UK.  They account for about 25% of the housing stock. [8]

This type of wall construction is the most difficult and expensive to insulate.  Whereas most cavity walled (double skin) buildings can be injected with insulation foam, solid wall have to be clad, either internally or externally.

According to the UK National Insulation Association:

The UK’s housing stock is estimated at approximately 24.5 million dwellings, of that approximately 36% consist of non-cavity wall construction – solid brick, solid stone, pre 1944 timber frame and non-traditional, i.e. concrete construction.’  [9]


Incentives to Upgrade

There are several incentive schemes on offer to property owners for insulation upgrade work, but the rate of improvement on the whole has been slow.

The UK Government Department of Energy and Climate Change realise that the two schemes on offer are not attracting enough participants. 

‘ Ed Davey (Energy Secretary) said that while take-up of green deal financing had been poor with just a few hundred homes using it, a million homes in England and Wales will have been insulated by April 2015 under the broader green deal scheme and its sister Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) since they began in January 2013.’ [10]

The ECO scheme is attributed as incentivising a large portion of the 457,000 properties insulated in recent years, still a small percentage of the tens of millions of homes with sub-standard insulation.

That scheme was implemented both to help insulate the homes of people in fuel poverty and difficult to insulate buildings, those older properties with solid walls.

The logistics and expense of having assessment reports carried out, and the unattractive 8% interest on finance are putting many people off.  The disruption of having modification work in your home is another disincentive.

Around 150,000 assessments (costing £100-£150), have been carried out since the Green Deal began, but the take-up of insulation work has been minimal. [10]

However, with energy prices rising, improved insulation is an obvious way to future proof against this.  Overall energy efficiency will help the country in reducing total energy consumption.


CHART_1_UK Home Insulation Levels 1990-2012

The level of insulation varies with the age of buildings and the building standards at the time of construction.  It has only been since the energy crises of the 1970s that standards have improved.  Again the building standards were raised in the past decade in light of concerns over CO2 emissions and rising energy costs.

CHART_2_UK Average Heat Loss 1990-2012

Translating insulation quality into energy losses, the largest gains are by insulating very old buildings which have little or no insulation.  It is these buildings which are more likely to be solid wall.

The vast majority of buildings have some level of insulation, but would benefit from upgrading.  The spikes in heat loss 1991, 1993, 1996, 2010 and 2012, relate to low annual average temperatures.  More energy is required to maintain rooms at a comfortable temperature.  Leaky buildings lose heat at a greater rate.

CHART_3_UK Domestic Space Heating 1990-2012

The overall trend in space heating energy consumption is linked to the number of households, the average temperature and the quality of building insulation.

TABLE_6_UK Levels of Home Insulation

For the purposes of this analysis, I chose three levels of insulation, high, medium & low.  These relate to the building standards of the time.  The largest band of medium insulation level is a broad average which best fits the energy consumption data.

CHART_4_UK Energy Savings for Insulation

In 2012 it is estimated that 17.5% of the housing stock is well insulated.  This leaves a lot of room for improvement.  As can be seen, from the linear relationship between percent of homes well insulated to national energy savings, significant energy savings can be achieved.


[1]  Digest of UK Energy Statistics 2012, UK Government (DECC)         

[2]  National Insulation Association, ‘Did You Know – Facts’, March 2014. 

[3]  The Carbon Plan: Delivering our low carbon future’, UK Gov 2011 

[4]  ‘English Housing Survey, Housing stock report 2008’, October 2010

(UK Department for Communities and Local Government) 

[5]  ‘Live tables on dwelling stock’, UK Gov – Dept Communities & Local Gov (Feb 2014) 

[6]  ‘Estimates of home insulation levels in Great Britain.’, UK Gov (DECC) Sept 2013 

[7]  ‘Special Feature – Estimates of Heat Use in the UK’, UK Gov – DECC July 2012

[8]  ‘How can I insulate my house if I don’t have cavity walls?‘, The Telegraph, 14 January 2014.

[9]  National Insulation Association (UK) 7 Mar 2014.

[10]  ‘Green deal loan take-up is ‘disappointing’, The Guardian, 5 March 2014

Scotland Recycling: Zero Waste Plan and Beyond

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Written for Coursera (MOOC) Class ‘Global Sustainable Energy, Past, Present and Future‘ by the University of Florida (June 2013).

In Scotland, the devolved government launched ‘Scotland’s Zero Waste Plan’ in 2010.  Prior to this, recycling rates were steadily increasing in step with environmental awareness amongst the populous of 5.3 million.  This plan forms part of the suite of publications which supports the climate change legislation, Climate Change Delivery Plan (2009) and the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009.

These policies are aligned within the European Union ‘Waste Framework Directive’.

The main targets of the plan are for 70% recycling of all waste and a 5% landfill limit by 2025.  It aims to achieve this by adopting the hierarchical; waste prevention, reuse, recycling and recovery, approach.

The presentation document also highlights the need for landfill bans for specific wastes, improved source segregation and separate collection of waste and restrictions on inputs to energy from waste.  The plan includes the instigation of regulatory reporting of resource use by all businesses, to give a clearer picture of current waste levels and future improvements.

In 2008, Scotland produced almost 20 million tonnes of waste.

PIE_Scotland Waste

Recognition of the national mindset change required towards viewing waste product as a potential resource, as well as encouraging local authorities to take a lead role in this transformation by providing clear information regarding good waste management habits and collection practices, lie at the heart of the plan.

The Scottish government sees waste as an economic opportunity rather than a problem.  It’s strategy is to develop sustainable, high value markets for recycled waste, and it aims to provide support in the development of infrastructure to this end.

Together with SEPA (Scottish Environmental Protection Agency), and the local authorities, the government aims to raise awareness of the need for local and personal responsibility in waste management, through education.  Community buy-in is seen as crucial to the success of this initiative.

Local Authority Collection

It is the responsibility of the 32 local authorities (councils) in Scotland to collect and ‘dispose of’ waste in their area.

Video Link >  Recycle Now (Waste & Resource Action Programme):


PIC_Recycling Collection

In my area, there is an alternating weekly collection of waste put into colour coded 240 litre ‘wheely bins’, one week green/black general non-recycled waste, the next week blue recycle waste.  The recycle bin is only for plastic bottles, paper and card, and tins and cans.

Video Links >  Recycle Now (Waste & Resource Action Programme):

Plastic Bottles

PIC_Recycling Bottles


PIC_Recycling Cans

Urban areas also benefit from a garden waste collection in brown bins, which accepts grass cuttings, hedge trimmings etc.

Video Link >  Recycle Now (Waste & Resource Action Programme):

Garden Waste

PIC_Recycling Garden Waste

Video Link >  Recycle Now (Waste & Resource Action Programme):

Materials Recycling Facility (MRF)

PIC_Recycling Garden MRF

British Glass in their ‘Glass Sustainability Report’ of 2007, states that ‘Glass recycling is an important environmental measure as it works for sustainability across the lifecycle.’

In comparison to recycling glass back into new glass containers, it says ‘alternative uses, such as aggregates, deliver lower levels of reduction in CO2, the glass industry believes strongly that all alternative markets will be important to meeting higher targets and provide a better environmental use than landfill.’

‘The amount of glass recycled to make new bottles and jars increased by 10,000 tonnes to a record 752,000 tonnes during 2006 according to estimates from British Glass. This means that UK manufactured bottles and jars contained an average of 35.5 per cent of recycled glass.’

This suggests that there are no significant quality issues arising from using recycled glass as a feedstock.  In a review of British Glass literature on recycling I found no reference to quality concerns.

My local council state that other plastic containers and bags are not accepted due to possible contamination by contents and the difficulty in identifying and sorting the various types of plastic, and due to the lack of reliable markets for this type of recyclate.  This is a barrier to higher recycling rates.

However, the council promises that as new markets emerge, more materials will be accepted for recycling.  So the solution is to develop these markets.

Video Link >  Recycle Now (Waste & Resource Action Programme):


PIC_Recycling Glass

Food Waste

PIC_Recycling Food


PIC_Recycling Garden Cartons

Throughout Scotland’s communities there are recycling banks for recycling different types of glass; clear, green and brown.  There are usually collection bins for old clothing.  Other facilities allow for collection of  batteries (car & household), fluorescent light tubes, fridges & freezers and other electrical equipment.

Video Link >  Recycle Now (Waste & Resource Action Programme):


PIC_Recycling Electrical

Alternative Routes

Organisations such as the ‘Freecycle’ network help facilitate reuse with an online itinerary of unwanted items, and a means of communication to arrange uplift by those in need.

There are also many local charity shops which take unwanted items and sell them on for a donation.  These mainly deal in furniture, clothing and books.  There is also a local bookstore which deals in second-hand as well as new books.

Anaerobic Digesters 

Linking the current recycling topic with our interests in energy, anaerobic digestion is a technology which spans both areas and is gaining in recognition as an economic means of converting organic waste product, food and garden waste, into energy with useful by-products.

It enlists micro-organisms to degrade organic material, to produce bio-gas, a mixture of methane and carbon dioxide, which can be used directly as a fuel or refined to the quality of natural gas.  The residue from digestion can be used as a fertiliser or soil conditioner.

It is regarded as a renewable energy source and helps reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses by; replacing fossil fuels, reducing energy usage in waste treatment, reducing methane emissions in landfill, and replacing industrial fertilisers.

DIAG_Recycling Anarobic Digestion

Scotland Energy Report

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Written for Coursera (MOOC) Class ‘Global Sustainable Energy, Past, Present and Future‘ by the University of Florida (June 2013).

1.0   Scotland Introduction

Scotland is country in the United Kingdom, Europe.  It is primarily governed by the UK government in Westminster, London, and on devolved matters by the Scottish government in Holyrood, Edinburgh.  An independence referendum is scheduled for 2014, and will determine whether Scotland remains part of the UK or returns to Independence.

Scotland has a population of 5.3 million and a land area of 78,387 km2.  The capital city is Edinburgh (population 495,360) and Glasgow (population 598,830) is its largest city.  The lowland central belt (including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Perth and Dundee) accounts for 70% of the population.  Aberdeen (population 222,800) and Inverness (population 57,960) are two notable cities outside the central belt.  The sparsely populated Highland region has one of the lowest population densities in Europe (population 232,100 / 26,484 km2) 8.4 people per km2.

1.1  Scotland’s Current Energy Mix 

Over the past eight years, where data is available (2004-2011), Scotland has generated on average 50 TWh of electricity annually.  The bulk of which has come from Nuclear Energy: Torness (1.4 GW) and Hunterson B (1.3 GW) stations, Coal: Longannet (2.4 GW) and Cockenzie (1.2 GW) stations and Natural Gas at the Peterhead (1.5 GW) station.

Renewable Energy has more than doubled during this period from nearly 6 TWh in 2004 to just under 14 TWh in 2011.  Of these totals, Scotland’s many Hydro stations accounts for 4.5 TWh on average, with only a small increase in installed capacity (1.3 to 1.5 GW) over the period.  The increases in Renewable Energy generation are from Wind Energy, which increased in installed capacity from 0.4 GW to 3 GW by 2011.  These figures are taken from the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change statistics.

Total Energy consumption in Scotland in 2010 was 178 TWh  (DUKES & DECC Statistics), and is broken down by fuel type:

  • Coal & Solid Fuel          (7.2%)
  • Petroleum                     (44.0%)
  • Natural Gas                   (37.4%)
  • Nuclear                          (5.4%)
  • Renewables                   (3.4%)
  • Others                            (2.7%)

TABLE_Summary Scotland Energy 2010 MULTI

Table 1.0: Energy Statistics Scotland 2010

According to the Scottish Energy Study, 2006: (91%) of Coal and other solid fuel is used for Electricity Generation, the remainder is used for domestic space heating (7%), mostly in remote rural areas, and by industry (2%).

Oil based petroleum consumption is predominantly for transportation.  The breakdown is: Transportation (77%), Domestic, mainly heating (15%), Industry (8%), Services (5%) and Electricity Generation (1%).

Natural Gas is the most economical and controllable fuel, which is available by mains supply in most urban areas.  Consumption for Domestic space heating and cooking is (40%).  It is also used for Electricity Generation (25%), for heating and process energy in Industry (21%) and Services sector heating (14%).

Nuclear Energy is 100% for Electricity Generation.

Renewable Energy sources have seen significant growth since the baseline of the 2006 study.  Almost 96% of Renewable Energy is dedicated to Electricity Generation, with a small amount of Thermal Biomass for heating.

Electricity Generation in Scotland is about 50 TWh annually and approximately 80% is for national consumption with 20% of exported to England and Northern Ireland.

Scotland Total GWh Coal Oil Gas Nuclear Renew Other
2004 49,937 13,055 1,391 10,835 18,013 5,832 811
2005 49237 12,142 1,903 9,367 18,681 6,486 659
2006 52,250 17,549 2,189 10,212 14,141 6,963 1,196
2007 48,080 13,856 1,504 10,931 12,344 8,226 1,219
2008 50,121 11,662 1,518 11,608 15,079 9,141 1,112
2009 51,170 11,964 1,294 9,370 16,681 10,755 1,105
2010 49,992 14,716 1,213 8,388 15,293 9,591 792
2011 51,223 10,779 1,156 8,052 16,892 13,728 616
Average 50,251 13,215 1,521 9,845 15,890 8,840 939

Table 1.1: Electricity Generation

CHART_Scot Elect Gen Mix 2004-2011

Figure 1.0: Electricity Generation


Electricity consumption remains fairly constant at around 50 TWh per annum.  The bulk of generation by Coal was provided by the 2.4 GW Longannet Station with the remainder intermittently supplied by the 1.2 GW Cockenzie Station (Closed in March 2013), much of Cockenzie’s electricity was exported to Northern Ireland.

Nuclear power provides an annual average base load of just under 16 TWh, from Torness (1.4 GW) and Hunterston B (1.3 GW) stations.

The Peterhead power station (1.5 GW) generates the majority of Natural Gas sourced electricity at around 10 TWh annually.  The Grangemouth petrochem complex is supplied by the 130 MW gas power station.  It provides both electricity and steam locally, as well as exporting excess electricity to the grid [1].  Permission was granted in 2011 for a 1 GW combined cycle gas power plant at the Cockenzie site, it will be equipped with carbon capture and storage technology [2].

Installed capacity for renewables sourced electricity is rapidly increasing in Scotland in line with targets set out by the Scottish government.  The graph below (figure 2.0) illustrates this expansion, with hydro capacity remaining constant and wind and wave capacity being responsible for the majority of the increase.  In actual fact, wave power remains at the prototype stage and currently contributes very little.  We can therefore attribute generation in this category mainly to wind energy.

1.2  Issues with access, Quality, and Sustainability of Current Sources. 

There are very few issues concerning access to electricity in Scotland at the moment.  Power outages are rare, except for in the most isolated and remote parts of the country, where the distribution network occasionally breaks down, usually due to extreme weather conditions.

The majority of the population are well served by electricity and natural gas utilities.   However, nearly 10% of the population, located in remote rural areas, do not have access to mains gas, being limited to using coal, wood logs and electricity as means of heating and cooking [3].

Use of Fossil Fuels such as Oil, Natural Gas and Coal is unsustainable for two main reasons.  These finite natural resources are being depleted and will eventually run out or become uneconomical to extract.  Furthermore, the burning of Fossil Fuels releases carbon into the atmosphere in the form of CO2, a greenhouse gas, which is causing Global Warming.

1.3  Reasons for Developing Renewable Energy Sources 

The Scottish government has set emissions targets, in law, to reduce production of greenhouse gasses responsible for climate change.  ‘The Climate Change (Scotland) Act of 2009, (using 1990 levels as the benchmark) has set a target of reducing emissions by 80% by 2050.  The target for 2020 is set at 42% reduction.  Another target is for 100% electricity generation capacity by renewable sources by 2020.  Although other sources like nuclear and fossil fuel supported by carbon capture and storage are retained initially as backup, the long term goal is have 100% renewable electricity.

Besides electricity generation, Scotland plans to have 30% total energy consumption, 10% transportation (EU target of 10%), 11% of heat energy, by renewable means and an overall reduction in energy consumption of 12% by 2020.  Guidance on how the country shall achieve these targets is provided in the Scottish government publication ‘2020 Routemap for Renewable Energy in Scotland’, August 2011 [4].      

This report will focus on Wind Energy, and briefly look at the status of Hydro Storage and Hydrokinetic (Wave and Tidal) Energy in Scotland.

Scotland has 25% of Europe’s wave and wind power potential [5], and has a theoretical total wind energy capacity of 159 GW.

2.0  Wind and Hydrokinetic Energy Technology

2.1  Wind Energy 

The mass movement of air in our atmosphere caused by variations in atmospheric pressure, gives the air molecules kinetic energy.  Wind Energy harnesses this by transferring the air energy to angled blades on a turbine, causing it to rotate.  This rotary motion is then transferred to an electricity generator and electricity is produced.

Two main design configurations are Horizontal axis and Vertical axis.  Horizontal axis is the most prevalent design due to high efficiency and reliability.  Most commercial turbines are three-bladed and utilise a gearbox in the transfer of power to the generator.  They are designed to turn to face into the wind and most have variable blade pitch to limit high rotational speed as a protection and safety feature, deployed during high wind conditions.

Vertical axis machines have the advantage of not having to face into the wind, but suffer from lower efficiencies and because of the relatively low rotational speeds and high torques produced, they require to be more robust and higher maintenance [6].

A radical new design for a static Wind Generator has been developed by Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.  It uses a grid of wires and charged water droplets to produce electricity without noise or flicker [7].

2.2  Hydrokinetic Energy

Hydrokinetic energy is the transfer of energy from natural water motion to usually electrical energy for consumption.  Hydro energy is a well established and widely adopted form of this technology associated with rivers and dams.

The leading current marine hydrokinetic designs are described below.  Taken from the Union of Concerned Scientists website [8].

Oscillating Water Column.  ‘Waves enter and exit a partially submerged collector from below, causing the water column inside the collector to rise and fall. The changing water level acts like a piston as it drives air that is trapped in the device above the water into a turbine, producing electricity via a coupled generator.’

Point Absorber: ‘Utilizes wave energy from all directions at a single point by using the vertical motion of waves to act as a pump that pressurizes seawater or an internal fluid, which drives a turbine. This type of device has many possible configurations. One configuration, called a hose pump point absorber, consists of a surface-floating buoy anchored to the sea floor, with the turbine device as part of the vertical connection. The wave-induced vertical motion of the buoy causes the connection to expand and contract, producing the necessary pumping action. Through engineering to generate device-wave resonance, energy capture and electricity generation by point absorbers can be maximized.’

Attenuator:Also known as heave-surge devices, these long, jointed floating structures are aligned parallel to the wave direction and generate electricity by riding the waves. The device, anchored at each end, utilizes passing waves to set each section into rotational motion relative to the next segment. Their relative motion, concentrated at the joints between the segments, is used to pressurize a hydraulic piston that drives fluids through a motor, which turns the coupled generator.’

Overtopping Device:A floating reservoir, in effect, is formed as waves break over the walls of the device. The reservoir creates a head of water—a water level higher than that of the surrounding ocean surface—which generates the pressure necessary to turn a hydro turbine as the water flows out the bottom of the device, back into the sea.’

Rotating devices: ‘Capture the kinetic energy of a flow of water, such as a tidal stream, ocean current or river, as it passes across a rotor. The rotor turns with the current, creating rotational energy that is converted into electricity by a generator. Rotational devices used in water currents are conceptually akin to, and some designs look very similar to, the wind turbines already in widespread use today – a similarity that has helped to speed up the technological development of the water-based turbines. Some rotational device designs, like most wind turbines, rotate around a horizontal axis, while other, more theoretical concepts are oriented around a vertical axis, with some designs resembling egg beaters.’

2.3  The Current State of Renewable Energy Sources in Scotland 

The table below shows the level of Electrical Generation by Renewable sources in Scotland in recent years.  In the category of ‘Wind, Wave and Solar’ energy, wind accounts for almost all electricity generation.

TABLE_Scot Renewable Elect Sources 2004-2011

Table 2.0:  Renewable Electricity Sources, GWh (inc Wind Wave & Solar)

CHART_Scot Renew Installed Cap 2004-2011

Figure 2.0: Electricity Generation by Renewables, Installed Capacity MW (UKgov DECC Statistics)

2.4  Wind Energy in Scotland

Scotland reputedly has 25% of Europe’s wave and wind power potential [9] , and has a theoretical total wind energy capacity of 159 GW.

There are currently two offshore and more than 100 onshore windfarms operating in Scotland. In addition to this, another 200 are either under construction, have planning permission or are in planning [10].

The Whitelee wind farm, near Glasgow is the largest onshore wind farm in Europe.  Completed in 2009, it operates 140 turbines each rated at 2.3 MW, giving it a total installed capacity is 322 MW.  A 75 turbine extension to the facility is due for completion in June 2013, and will increase capacity to 539 MW.  The total project cost was £300 million, or around £0.56 million per megawatt [11].

2.5  Hydrokinetic Energy in Scotland 

Scotland is host to the European Marine Energy Centre, located on the Orkney Islands, off the north coast.  It opened in 2003 and is the only centre of its kind in the world for both wave and tidal energy testing.  The centre is an internationally acknowledged leader in marine energy and assists in the development of industry standards and guidelines.

Tidal energy projects at the EMEC include:

  • Andritz Hydro Hammerfest (HS1000) 1 MW
  • Atlantis Resources Corporation (AR1000) 1 MW
  • Bluewater Energy Services (BlueTEC)
  • Kawasaki Heavy Industries (sea-bed mounted horizontal axis) 1 MW,
  • Open Hydro (turbine) 250 kW
  • Scotrenewables Tidal Power Ltd (SR250, SR2000) 250 kW & 2 MW,
  • Tidal Generation Ltd (Deepgen) 500 kW,
  • Voith Hydro (HyTide) 1 MW.

Wave energy projects at the EMEC include:


2.6  What additions are required over the next 10 years 

The Scottish government target of generating 100% of national electricity consumption from renewable sources by 2020 appears to be very achievable.  The two pronged approach of reducing consumption and increasing renewable capacity is already having the desired affect.

In the 2010 Scottish government publication ‘Conserve and Save: The Energy Efficiency Action Plan’ [12], provision is made to encourage public participation in the broad objective to reduce energy consumption.  Resources are provided to better educate the general public on energy conservation and climate change matters, as well as provision of financial aid to improve domestic energy efficiency, by increasing home insulation for example.

Action 2.1 Within available resources, we will continue to provide ongoing support and financial assistance for energy efficiency in existing housing, levering investment from energy companies and private householders wherever appropriate.’

Scotland is a net exporter of electricity, to neighbouring England and Northern Ireland.  In recent years the trends, shown in the graph below, are for reduced national consumption and increased exports.

The 2011 installed onshore wind generation of 2.4 GW is soon to be augmented by a further 1 GW under construction (added to 2014 total), 2 GW approved for construction (added to 2016 total), 3.5 GW currently in planning (added to 2018 total)and 3.9 GW at the pre-planning stage (added to 2020 total).  The current known potential of 12.8 GW can be included for the short term [13].

According to Scottish Renewables, 10 GW has been identified for short term offshore wind development in the Forth and Moray Firth areas [14].  I have phased in the offshore capacity to 2020 at I GW per year and at 2 GW per year thereafter, since once these units are developed and proven more rapid development is likely.

The Crown Estates and Scottish Government are supporting a £4 billion project to build Tidal power generators around Orkney and the Pentland Firth with an estimated 1.4 GW of power  I have included tidal Hydrokinetic energy at the conservative rate of 0.25 GW per year in my projections [15].

CHART_Scotland Onshore Wind Planning 2011

Figure 2.1: Scotland Onshore Wind  (SCOTgov Statistics)

There are also great opportunities currently being reviewed in offshore wind energy.  This is both a more technically challenging and resource rich sector.  Currently in Scotland there are two offshore wind developments: the 5 MW Beatrice demonstrator project and the 180MW Robin Rigg installation.

The Scottish government initiative ‘Blue Seas – Green Energy A Sectoral Marine Plan for Offshore Wind Energy’, March 2011, has identified 5 GW of development in six areas which exhibit favourable potential [16].

In addition to this, the ‘Sectoral Marine Plan’ has identified 25 areas for offshore wind development.  Estimates of Scottish total offshore wind energy potential are in the region of 206 GW.  For projections, a conservative annual increase in capacity of 0.25 GW has been included.

In support of development on the offshore field,  three major turbine manufacturers are to establish facilities in Scotland: Doosan Power Systems, Gamesa, and Mitsubishi Power Systems.

2.7  The 2020 Goal

In line with the Scottish Government targets to reduce consumption and increase renewable energy capacity:

  • 30% of Total Scottish Energy Consumption from Renewable Sources
  • 100% of Electricity Consumption from Renewable Energy
  • 10% of Transport powered by Renewable Energy
  • 11% of Heating Energy by Renewable Sources
  • 12% Reduction in Total Energy Consumption

The rapid expansion of Wind Energy capacity and potential of Marine Hydrokinetic Energy currently being developed at the European Marine Energy Centre, achieving these targets is highly probable.

2.8  Why the Wind and Wave Energy is Appropriate for Scotland 

Scotland has great potential for development of Wind and Wave Energy, with 25% of Europe’s resource total.  It has almost 10,000 km of coastline, open to Atlantic and North Sea energy.

The availability of these resources in Scotland made it the ideal site for the European Marine Energy Centre, which opened on Orkney in 2003 [17].

3.0  Timeframe for Completion

3.1  Reduction in Electricity Consumption (Existing Uses) 

Energy consumption per capita in Scotland is higher than in the rest of the UK.  Historically this was due to higher proportion of consumption in heavy industry and a greater need for energy in space heating in a colder climate. While trends in industry are moving away from energy intensive processes, the climate remains cold.

Several factors give rise to conflicting trends in domestic energy use in Scotland. There is an ageing population and an increase in the number of households and increased single-person living.  There is a growing demand for electrical appliances to increases consumption, but ongoing improvements in housing stock efficiency are helping to reduce it.

The areas where reductions in electricity consumption can be reduced are identified as: improved home insulation, awareness of phantom load and other wasteful habits, improved lighting efficiency.  Lighting and appliances account for 28% of electricity consumption according to ‘Electricity Demand Reduction’, a consultation paper published by the UK government Department of Energy and Climate Change, November 2012 [18].

There are savings to be made as better electricity saving technologies are adopted in appliance designs, similar to efficiency improvements seen with lighting as incandescent bulbs are phased out, and LED and CFT lighting is adopted.

Other areas of reduction include: Lighting controls, replacement of street lights with LEDs, replacement of electric heating with heat pumps, and generally improving control and efficiency of commercial and industrial processes.

Significant investment in upgrading building insulation, lighting technology and control, and industrial processes is required to reduce consumption through increased efficiency.  Building regulations for new buildings already requires this efficiency.  New efficient appliances will reduce consumption as old ones are replaced.

Over the 10 years to 2023, an annual reduction of 1,250 GWh (2.5%) is required from existing modes of consumption to achieve the 25% reduction target. This will be achieved in the early stages from the switchover to efficient lighting (1 – 3 years).  Once saturation of this measure is reached, the more gradual and capital intensive insulation and appliance replacement measures will begin to take effect for domestic consumption (2 – 10 years).  In the longer term, the larger industrial and commercial adaptations will account for efficiency induced reduction in electricity consumption (5 – 10 years).

3.2  Green Electricity Displacing Fossil Fuel.

Although reduction in current electricity use is desirable, increased Renewable Energy capacity is being rapidly developed.  In order to displace Fossil Fuel consumption, in line with Climate Change targets, increases in overall electricity consumption will be seen.

Besides renewable energy displacing Natural Gas and Coal directly in Electricity Generation, as Transport vehicles, cars and trucks are gradually powered by electricity or hydrogen, and not petroleum, there will be an increased demand for electricity either directly or as part of hydrogen production.

There may be a reduction in Transport use and the associated energy consumption, but an overall increase in electricity consumption is likely.  Overall efficiency improvements should see a decrease in total energy consumption overall by 2023.

According to ‘The Scottish Energy Study’ of 2006 [19], Oil based fuels in Transport of 46.77 TWh were consumed in 2002.  Of this, 71% (33.2 TWh) was for Road Transport, 18% for Aviation, 7% for Marine Transport and 4% (1.9 TWh) for Rail Transport.  Focusing on the land based Transportation of road and rail, there is potential to convert 35.1 TWh annually from fossil fuel to renewable electricity.  These figures are valid for 2013 as patterns of road and rail use have remained fairy constant in the past few decades.

Assuming a direct replacement of vehicle petroleum energy by renewable electrical energy, this 35.1TWh is converted to electrical consumption and added to the total.  The enormity of this switch over in terms of infrastructure in charging points, increased electrical output, and availability and uptake of electric vehicles, not to mention opposition from oil companies and other oil stakeholders, suggests that this is a medium to long term scenario.

CHART_Scotland Onshore Wind Capacity 2010-2012

Figure 3.0: Scotland Onshore Wind Capacity

However, at the rate of Renewable expansion currently occurring, the energy capacity issue is being addressed.  For the purpose of this forecast I see an initial switch over of 5% at year 5 (2018), with a 2.5% increase annually.  The first five years will see patchy improvements in uptake of these vehicles, but as infrastructure improves, vehicle prices fall and the technology is developed further, more people will be willing to make the switch.

There are currently more charging points being added every month throughout the country.

3.3  Phasing Out Nuclear Energy 

Scotland’s two Nuclear Power Stations: Hunterston B and Torness are both expected to operate until 2023, at least.  Replacement of the baseload power provided by these stations offers significant challenges, if Renewable sources are to be used in place.  The intermittent nature of Wind and Solar energy is the main issue.

Solutions to cope with this intermittency include increasing current pumped storage capacity of 700 MW.  Depending upon the extent of upgrades to the transmission network, it is estimated that an increase in energy storage capacity of between 3.5 GW and 7 GW would be required [20].

There are two large-scale pumped storage schemes currently being planned for the central Highlands by Scottish and Southern Energy.  These plants have a combined capacity of 900 MW.

Other technologies for large scale storage such as flywheel and battery storage may be part of the solution.  One idea for the future is the use of vehicle battery storage that allows for plugged in vehicles being charged up to act as energy stores, to feed back into the grid as necessary.  Control mechanisms to ensure that vehicles are available for use by owners would form part of such a scheme where financial incentives for participation in grid storage are offered.

4.0  Problems Barriers and Policy Issues

Today in our well developed society we have vastly improved analysis and communication tools at our disposal.  As we are better equipped to foresee potential problems, such as resource depletion and environmental degradation, we are also able to adjust our behaviour in order that we avoid or mitigate the worst consequences of natural phenomenon.

However, there is an inertia which works against major upheaval and change in society.  This is one of the major challenges as we work towards having a better and more sustainable energy industry.  In this section of the report, we identify some of these issues and propose solutions where they exist.

4.1  Identification of Social Barriers to Energy Improvements

People are often resistant to change if it brings increased effort and expense for little or no apparent lifestyle improvement.  The level of awareness of issues like peak oil and global warming will have a large bearing on responsiveness to such problems.

Unless the majority of people are convinced that alterations to consumption levels or long held habits are absolutely necessary, en-mass buy in is unlikely.

Capital investment in more efficient appliances presents an extraordinary strain on personal finances.  The transfer rate to reduced energy consumption achieved when people only replace equipment at end-of-life is low.  Rates are increased as people are encouraged to adopt more efficient equipment sooner.

A particular issue of split incentives is prevalent in rented buildings, both for domestic homes and commercial property.  The cost of upgrading is met by the owner, but the improved facility is enjoyed by the tenant.  Most of the time, short term planning prevails and upgrades are not made.

For large capital projects, the initial spend is usually very large and the payback in terms of reduced energy bills is less apparent.  For this reason, people usually delay this type of project until it becomes absolutely necessary.  This is linked to a lack of finance or access to it.

As well as the financial issue related to energy improvements such as insulation upgrading in homes and commercial premises is the disruption to the space during a refit.

A particular social barrier to the development of wind turbines is the opposition by some people who think that they are unsightly and/or too noisy.

4.2  Solutions to Social Barriers

With respect to social awareness of issues like peak oil and global warming, there needs to be accepted agreement by the establishment: scientists, politicians, economists and business, that the problem exists.  After years of skepticism, global warming is now accepted by governments and is now being tackled at international level.

Peak oil is less well accepted, and until it is, measures to mitigate for oil shortages and subsequent increases in fuel prices are unlikely to be adopted.

Awareness campaigns by governments, using internet, television, radio and other media must be implemented well, to raise public awareness and enlist their support and efforts.

It is known that low cost and basic habit changes, such as using efficient low energy light bulbs and appliances, and reducing phantom loads can reduce energy consumption dramatically.  Also, newer more energy efficient appliances are being developed to reduce consumption.

Government backed finance initiatives, such as the UK’s ‘Green Deal’, allows home and business owners to have approved upgrades carried out and pay back the cost in instalments as the portion of energy cost saved in monthly fuel bills.

Whilst we are still heavily reliant on petroleum for public and personal transport, better driving techniques: lower speeds and acceleration rates, less braking and better use of geographical elevations, all reduce consumption.

In industry, inefficient or oversized motors and equipment can be replaced with newer and better controlled units.


4.3  Identification of Political Barriers to Energy Improvements

Currently, in the midst of a global economic slump, national governments have less capital available to invest in large energy projects and infrastructure.  In the UK, the current Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government are executing an austerity programme, which extends to energy investment, so no additional funding is being made available.

In Scotland, the coastal waters extending out 12 miles (19 km) are owned by the Crown Estates and generates income for the Queen.  In effect any offshore wind wave or tidal energy company operating in this area must agree a split of profits with the Crown.

Planning law and the administration of development is carried out at local authority level.  Restrictions are in place for small scale building for both upgrades and new builds.  Administration fees and effort required to negotiate planning are a disincentive to development.  Large scale energy and infrastructure projects usually have an element of national government involvement in terms of administration and finance.

4.4  Political Policy

The Department of Energy and Climate Change commissioned the ‘Electricity Demand Reduction’ report, published in November 2012.  The report analysis identifies key areas of improvement and quantifies potential savings across all sectors.

The report highlights national benefits resulting from a general energy efficiency awareness and broad public and business buy-in.  Reduction in energy demand means that fewer power stations and lighter infrastructure would be required, so reducing system costs.

Reduced energy bills make businesses more competitive in a global marketplace, and stimulate growth.  Also, individual households with lower fuel bills have more disposable income to spend locally, so completing the virtuous circle.

4.5  Environmental Issues in Energy Development

As part of the planning process in Scotland, Environmental Impact Assessments are required for developments.  This is especially true for sites of wind and marine energy, which have previously been undeveloped, Greenfield sites.

Many of the proposed sites for these renewable projects are in remote and rural areas, where the natural environment is prized for its rich diversity of flora and fauna.  The aesthetics of the natural and rugged beauty of the Scottish wilderness is guarded by a host of environment stakeholders including: Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, Scottish Natural Heritage, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, John Muir Trust, and the National Trust for Scotland.

Wind turbines are assessed particularly for impacts on bird migration and habitat, as well as visual impact on the landscape.  Great care is taken to avoid unnecessary disruption to the natural environment during construction and operation of the turbines.

Similarly, marine assessments are carried out for wave and tidal hydrokinetic schemes to ensure minimal disruption to marine life, local to the devices.

In the end, the relative costs and benefits of the development, after public consultation are evaluated at the planning stage.

5.0  Lists and Graphs of Renewable Sources and 10 Year Projections.

TABLE_Scot Renewable 2011 DATA DEC Sect 5.0

MAP_Scot Wind Intalled Cap Sect 5.0

TABLE_Scot Renewable Elect Sources 2014-2023 SEct 5.0

Table 5.0: Renewable Energy Sources


  • See section 2.6 for Wind and Marine Energy projection rationales.
  • Typical Capacity Factors for Scottish conditions used.

CHART_Scot Renew Output 2014-2023 Sect 5.0

Figure 5.0:  Graph of Renewable Output

TABLE_Scot Total Energy Cons 2011-2023 DATA DEC Sect 5.0

Table 5.1:  Total Energy Consumption


  • See section 3.2 for explanation of Petroleum transfer to Electricity consumption.
  • Solid Fuel and Natural Gas for space heating reductions to reflect insulation upgrades.

CHART_Scot Total Energy Cons by Fuel 2014-2023 Sect 5.0

Figure 5.1:  Graph of Total Energy Output

TABLE_Scot Elect Gen 2011-2023 DATA DEC Sect 5.0

Table 5.2:  Projected Electricity Generation


  • It is anticipated that a conservative reduction of 50% in Coal and Natural Gas will result from increased Renewable generation.
  • Nuclear shall remain constant throughout life of existing plant.
  • It is anticipated that production shall outstrip consumption by nearly 3:1 by 2023, with excess going to export in UK and Europe.

CHART_Scot Elect Gen 2014-2023 DATA DEC Sect 5.0

Figure 5.2:  Graph of Projected Electricity Generation


  • Renewable energy is on the cusp of displacing Fossil Fuels in electricity generation.
  • Conservative reductions in Coal and Natural Gas may be increased as Renewable technology matures.
  • Nuclear energy remains constant until end of current plant lifetime.

CHART_Scot Elect Supply 2014-2023 DATA DEC Sect 5.0

Figure 5.3:  Graph of Electrical Energy Supply 


  • Losses are due to generator use, transmission and distribution losses.
  • Projected losses calculated at 2011 percentage of total electricity generated.
  • Exports currently to England and Northern Ireland.  Future export interconnector possible to Europe.

CHART_Scot Total Energy Renew 2014-2023 DATA DEC Sect 5.0

Figure 5.4: Percentage of Total Energy Consumption by Renewable Sources 


  • Percentage of Renewable energy generated as a percentage of total energy consumption (all fuel types).

6.0  Report Summary

Summary of Major Issues surrounding Global Energy:

  • Peak Oil, Resource depletion and Global Warming illustrate that current Energy Consumption patterns are not sustainable.
  • Renewable Energy sources are the Key to reducing Fossil Fuel dependency and reduction in Carbon emissions.
  • Political, Economical and Social inertia to major change present Barriers in adopting better practices and technology.
  • Greater awareness of the issues by the masses and positive political assistance will accelerate required changes.
  • Additional efficiency benefits accompany the main consumption reduction goals: Lighter infrastructure requirements, lower pollution levels, freeing up of finances at both the national and individual level.
  • Better energy security from a national scheme, with less reliance on foreign energy sources.

Summary of Recommended Steps in Implementing the Plan.

  • Increase the capacity of national and local Renewable Energy generation.
  • National assistance in the Research and Development of new Renewable Energy technologies like Hydrokinetic Marine devices and static wind energy generators.
  • Develop low and zero carbon Transportation vehicles.  Adopt more efficient Driving Techniques.
  • Reduce personal Electricity Consumption by switching appliances and lights off when not in use.
  • Replace appliances and light bulbs with more energy efficient ones.
  • Better insulate buildings to reduce HVAC energy consumption.
  • Government to encourage energy efficiency by providing information on best practices and financial assistance for capital intensive upgrades.
  • Governments to set and meet targets for Carbon reduction and energy efficiency.


[1]        Gazetteer for Scotland Grangemouth Power Station

[2]        Wikipedia Cockenzie Power Station

[3]        Consumer Focus Scotland Our Goals

[4]        Scottish government ‘2020 Routemap for Renewable Energy in Scotland’, August 2011.

[5]        Scottish Development International

[6]        Wikipedia Wind Turbine

[7]        REWIRE article April 2013

[8]        Union of Concerned Scientists Website

[9]        Scottish Development International

[10]      Scottish Power Renewables ‘Whitelee Wind Farm

[11]       Scottish Power Renewables ‘Construction Update

[12]       Scottish government publication ‘Conserve and Save: The Energy Efficiency Action Plan

[13]       Scottish government publication ‘2020 Routemap for Renewable Energy in Scotland’

            Part 5

[14]       Scottish Power Renewables, ‘Offshore Wind

[15]       The Crown Estate ‘Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters

[16]       Scottish government publication ‘Blue Seas – Green Energy

[17]       European Marine Energy Centre

[18]       UK government publication ‘Electricity Demand Reduction’ DECC November 2012

[19]       Scottish Energy Study – Volume 1 – Energy in Scotland, Supply and Demand, 2006

[20]       Scots Renewables website ‘Pumped Storage Hydro In Scotland’ February 2011

Useful Weblinks (Updated June 2014)

BBC: Tidal energy: Pentland Firth ‘could power half of Scotland’ (20 January 2014)

BBC: Pentland Firth tidal turbine project given consent (16 September 2013)

Scottish Government: Marine Scotland – Marine and Fisheries, Offshore Renewable Energy

European Marine Energy Centre (Orkney, Scotland)

Climate Change Attitudes Survey

titles_energy efficiency_4

For the Coursera (MOOC) Class – ‘Turn Down the Heat, Why a 4oC Warmer World Must be Avoided‘ by the World Bank, I conducted a small survey to gauge perceptions and attitudes (UK May 2015).

Most of the participants live in Scotland, UK  and are a mix of rural and urban dwellers.

I was primarily interested in:

  • Personal Carbon Footprints
  • Family and Community Awareness
  • Future Trends and Behaviour
  • Plans of Action

I calculated each respondent’s carbon footprint from the lifestyle and consumption survey data.

Sect 1 Graphs Carbon Footprint

  • The results in the graph show that the highest carbon footprint was just over 14 tonnes of CO2 per year, and the lowest just under 5 tonnes.
  • The group average was 9 tonnes of CO2 annually per person, which is lower than the Industrial Nations average (11 tonnes) and the UK average (9.8 tonnes).
  • However, the group were above the World average (4 tonnes) and the United Nations target of 2 tonnes of CO2 emissions per person.

Sect 2 Graphs Community _PERC

  • Most are aware of Global Warming and report that coverage by UK news media indicate some of the threats.   With more choosing the ‘agree’ option, there may be some dissatisfaction on how well the issue is reported.
  • There is broad acceptance that anthropogenic Climate Change is real.
  • Government policy as it affects basic commodity prices seems less well observed.  The neutral responses may indicate a perception that Governments are not taking a strong enough lead in combating Climate Change.
  • There is broad agreement that renewable energy projects and other progressive initiatives are on the increase.

Sect 3 Graphs Trends _PERC

  • Adverse conditions due to Global Warming and Climate Change are seen as imminent.
  • At a national and international level, it is agreed that adaptations to our way of life as the climate changes will demand an increased share of public finances.
  • There is almost universal agreement that more should be done to mitigate CO2 emissions now in order that we limit environmental damage for future generations.

Sect 4 Graphs Behaviour _PERC

  • Where changes in behaviour are easier to accommodate, in food and energy consumption, most have done so to reduce CO2 emissions.
  • Transportation is a more difficult element of lifestyle to change given the reliance on petroleum vehicles and air travel.
  • All respondents place some weight on environmental policy when choosing their political representatives.
  • Most are aware of other people’s altered behaviour recently linked with environmental concerns.

Sect 5 Graphs Action _PERC

  • Most people seem engaged with the Global Warming problem, and see the need to take action now.
  • While most propose individual action to tackle CO2 emissions, some feel that broad international agreement by Governments is necessary.