“There is no planet B”, Emmanuel Macron

This was loudly applauded –  & not just by those who were there.

The march of renewables continues …. but it continues to be slow. If we are to slow, halt & reverse the effects of climate change we need to deliver more, sooner.
As someone involved in seeking funding for renewable projects & businesses with a background of delivering debt & equity into challenging sectors I have something of an overview of the challenges. There is no doubt that technology developers & project owners could do a better job of organising themselves & really understanding & narrating what they have that would attract investment. Nor is there any doubt that those with appetite to invest, including those driven to diversify from fossil fuel sectors, could stretch their risk appetite to encompass a wider spread of technologies & projects. Greenbackers Investment Capital & Deja Blue are both working hard with companies & investors to address these issues
BUT it is those with their hands on the policy levers that need to intervene to maintain & increase the momentum behind the sector.
Support in Europe is consistent & strong. The European Commission’s DG Clima are putting together an expert group with companies from each of the relevant sectors, to help design the future Innovation Fund. Ocean Energy is one such sector. The expert group will input into the design of the Innovation Fund & this is an important opportunity to influence a scheme that will be worth an estimated €3-4bn across many industrial sectors. Deja Blue is seeking to be part of that expert group.
The UK picture is sadly different. It is deeply concerning that a support mechanism – the Contract for Difference – that has so demonstrably delivered huge growth in offshore wind is effectively unavailable to the next generation of renewable technologies. The economic & social arguments on value for money for the consumer that are deployed to explain this don’t stand scrutiny when the headline commercial arrangements for the nuclear plant at Hinkley point are examined. EDF has negotiated a guaranteed fixed price – a “strike price”– for electricity from Hinkley Point C of £92.50/MWh (in 2012 prices), which will be adjusted (linked to inflation) during the construction period & over the subsequent 35 years tariff period. Decommissioning liabilities fall on the UK & the plant is being provided with a grid connection. This playing field is anything but level. The technology has NOT been built & operationally tested yet. This will NOT establish any new industry in the UK that could grow & export & help with post Brexit trade.
In the face of this lack of ongoing support the tidal sector has developed the Innovation PPA – offering tax breaks equivalent to the amount of support offered beyond commercially available pricing to companies signing up- as a possible mechanism that will offer support to that sector – let us hope it will gain traction.
In the meantime it is incumbent on us to start all the conversations that we have on these issue with reference to the fact that we depend on planet A & “There is no planet B”

……………thoughts from Deja Blue

“Look Who’s Coming to Dinner”

As Christmas fades into memory I reflect on those family games that emerge- if at all, as they struggle to survive alongside more modern equivalents – at this time of year, and my mind turns to the question of who I would have at a dinner party.
Lord Lawson, Donald Trump, Stephen Hawking & Elon Musk would be candidates.
I would take up Stephen Hawkins offer “Next time you meet a climate denier,” he said, “tell them to take a trip to Venus. I will pay the fare,” and I would prevail upon Mr Musk to help organise the transport. Once Messrs Lawson and Trump were safely on their way Bill Gates and Paul Wheelhouse …….would join us along with whoever is running the UK at the moment.
The end of the meal would see two amazing things – a small fund created that would use debt & equity to do small , hard investments that can transform the way we generate, store, transmit and use our energy and a properly funded long term study with open access to the results that would gather and make available the evidence of the real changes in communities – to health (mental and physical), employment, housing – that having access to and at least shared ownership of, reliable, clean, affordable, locally generated and distributed power can deliver not only to those communities but to the budgets of local and central governments that have to deliver services to them.
For so long as the U.K. seeks to set its energy policy and deliver its market interventions on the basis solely of the “cost to the consumer” – a largely illusory figure that is plucked out of the complex economics of energy generation and delivery – we are doomed to fail; and that failure is against our climate change commitments, will be at the cost of securing new, long term, high growth, exporting industries and will see our grandchildren looking back and shaking their heads at us in despair.
I was in China before Christmas forging links with and speaking to companies looking to invest in sustainable, low carbon and renewable solutions; I see huge effort there to deliver such solutions and to build high growth exporting businesses; I also see – and indeed represent – companies that are turning to China and other jurisdictions for the support and investment that they should be able to get here;  and I know that Scotland and the U.K. will, once again, lose out on securing the economic benefits that flow from that support …. and I want to invite to dinner all those who have a hand in that and who could – with a little imagination and leadership – change the direction we are travelling in – and before they eat offer them a look through Stephen Hawkins telescope trained on Venus and ask them if they want a one way ticket……….

…………… thoughts from Deja Blue

“A Nation that forgets its past has no future”. W.S.C.

£57.50! Offshore wind for 2022/23 ……… job done …. not exactly …… what was the job again…?
Yes it is a great demonstration that the CfD mechanism has delivered …. something ……. for the UK economy……. but WHAT has it delivered?
Well, firstly, a halving in price in just over 2 years …good; secondly a multi-billion pound industry with great benefits for the UK supply chain – good; thirdly a new, home-grown industry with manufacturing, jobs and profits all retained in UK and with the knowledge and expertise anchored here which can become a strong, post brexit, high growth, exporting industry ? …… well NO – all of that was lost to UK when we failed to carry on supporting the development of the turbines just a few short years ago……..
But we can learn from that ……… the next 2 big off shore technology sectors that will dominate the energy business worldwide are happening right here off the UK coast – floating wind and tidal energy and the third, the much larger but harder to crack wave sector is “anchored” here too!
Easy then – the CfD works – let’s get these sectors in there – support these industries, grow and anchor them here and we can be the world leader in generating clean energy from the world’s oceans.
But NO ….. it seems the lesson the UK takes from the success of the CfD in driving down costs for offshore wind is that no other technology will get as low (this notwithstanding that not even the most ardent, optimistic proponents of the sector would have predicted the £57.50 price even 2 years ago) – so they must just fight on for every scrap of funding they can secure from anywhere and try to build these industries as best they can.
Here’s a thought – move offshore wind to pot 1 (it should have been there already – how can a sector that can get £500m at less than 3% be regarded as “emerging”?) – and reserve pot 2 for real emerging technology like off shore floating wind, tidal and wave energy. If we don’t – the signs are there – the French tidal round will attract the leading technologies – including those currently based in the UK – and (just guessing here) it seems likely they may become quite French – quite quickly.

Some positive developments …..
– the Clean Growth Strategy published by BEIS 0n 12th October 2017, the Scottish Governments suite of measures including the Energy Strategy and Climate Change provisions will de carbonise the economy and drive activity and investment and wind projects on the remote islands of Scotland that directly benefit local communities will be eligible for the next Pot 2 auction; can we avoid them bidding against one another…..?
………… thoughts from Deja Blue

Read the Runes

The Scottish Governments Programme For Government sets out the actions it will take in the forthcoming year. Importantly it sets out the drivers &  provides context for the upcoming legislative programme. Understanding these drivers and the new Scottish Government Energy Strategy referenced in Deja Blue blog 1 is key to successfully shaping the narrative around projects, businesses and technology developments to attract investment. It also suggests areas where those agencies , programmes and funds that the Government supports will choose, or be directed, to co invest.
The Programme is explicit on the benefits of “Transitioning to a resource efficient, low carbon and circular economy…” and the “…. massive opportunity for business and for jobs” this represents.
It presages the establishment of “….. a Scottish National Investment Bank to provide patient capital for growth and support our overall economic strategy” and of “ … a new Strategic Board…” to co ordinate the enterprise and skills agencies”.
There are hints that the National Performance Framework will be embedded with the low carbon targets trailed in the Energy Strategy.
Of the 27 Bills listed for action those covering Climate Change, Crown Estate, Planning, Transport, & Warm Homes will all be of direct relevance to the low carbon sector and of those already announced Forestry and Land Management, Housing & the Islands Bill will similarly be of great interest. It is very informative how many times the importance of the “community ” & its place in driving and anchoring economic activity is repeated.
All of this makes it an important read; a document that should be part of the suite of things you look to when seeking to do business in Scotland or when thinking about investing in, growing or setting up your business in Scotland………………

………….. thoughts from Deja Blue

First Webinar
Andrew Smith delivered a Webinar on 5th September in conjunction with Johnston Carmichael and Atlantis organised with the excellent assistance of the International Tidal Energy Summit 2017 . Thanks to all who signed on – if you didn’t and would like the slide pack let me know via the contact page and I will e mail it to you.

“Earth’s sigh of relief as green and blue replace black”

This is the post excerpt.

I posted the headline on twitter on the April day in 2017 when Britain went without coal for the first time since the Industrial Revolution, That was not long after Scottish Renewables Annual Conference during which I learnt that BT was in the top 10 of the greenest companies in the world (!) and watched Chris Stark deliver the Scottish Governments Energy Strategy . Placing energy at the heart of the Scottish economy and linking it to a new Climate Change Act is hugely ambitious and, I believe visionary. The generation of electricity in Scotland is largely decarbonised – thanks in no small part to the activities of one Margaret Thatcher – but the real challenges in heat, transport, storage, a distributed energy generation system, new look utilities, empowered communities owning or part owning generation, and more, all lie ahead.

How do we deliver against these ambitions and challenges?

There are excellent agencies, advisory groups, funds, guides, examples and more out there – but there are still gaps.

We need to use the ambition central to the policy, SMEs, communities, agencies, funds, technology developers, project developers & investors to create the economic activity that anchors the decarbonisation of the economy into everyday life.

………….. above all we need to debunk those who deny climate change and join with those that recognise the real threat it poses ……..  

………thoughts from Deja Blue