New energy information service set to connect with the public
Renewables Connection – which aims to lead the way for similar services to be rolled out across Scotland – will hold a special all-day event in the Academy Centre courtyard, Belmont Street, on Country Fair day on Saturday (25 August 2007) to show off a wide range of the technologies available. Aberdeen Lord Provost Peter Stephen will officially launch the event at 10am.
Free expert advice and information will be available from Renewables Connection staff and representatives from 12 partner installation companies – and people will also get the chance to book a free site visit to their property for more detailed information on the renewable technologies that would meet their home-energy needs.
The display, running from 9am-4pm, will include working examples of small-scale wind turbines, heat pumps, solar panels and wood-fuel technologies. An air-source heat pump will also get its first UK showing.
Renewables Connection is a pioneering new pilot project covering Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire, funded by Aberdeen City Council, Scottish Enterprise, Save Cash and Reduce Fuel (SCARF) and Shell UK Ltd, with support from Aberdeenshire Council and the Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group (AREG). All are represented on the steering group.
The organisation – the first of its kind North of the Border – has been set up to offer impartial advice to householders, small businesses and public sector organisations to guide them through the increasing range of technologies they could tap into to power homes and other buildings.
Renewables Connection staff can also help with grant applications, planning applications and securing competitive quotes. They will also give advice on reducing heat demand at a property before any installation goes ahead and support schemes from the idea stage through to completion. A target of 50 installations a year has been set for the first two years, rising to 100 by year-three.
The local North-east economy will also benefit in the shape of new jobs and training opportunities, and new companies establishing themselves in this area to take advantage of a burgeoning market in renewable technologies.
Research has shown that many organisations and home-owners are interested in installing sustainable technologies to provide their power but fail to proceed because of a lack of impartial information.
Renewables Connection has already used a tendering process to pinpoint the best-value partner companies who can supply wood, wind, solar and heat pump technologies.
The organisation, which is managed by SCARF at 1 Cotton Street, Aberdeen, has three staff – development officer Jane Fraser, technical officer Kevin Christie and administration officer Kasia Buzcak. It aims to be financially self-supporting by 2009.
Jane Fraser said: “We want to encourage people to come and talk to us on Saturday if they’re interested in renewable energy but not sure what the next step should be. Anyone who can’t make it along on Saturday is welcome to phone us on (01224) 213005 or visit the website at www.renewablesconnection.org.uk.
Jean Morrison, Chief Executive of SCARF, said: “The Renewables Connection further advances SCARF’s aims and objective to provide a one-stop-shop advocating the sustainable use of energy and creating sustainable employment and training opportunities. The three-year pilot project has created three new post-holders, who will provide consumers with impartial advice on the renewable technologies most suitable to their individual needs, grants for installations and at the same time make the connections with local installers.”
Sarah Hillyear, of the Scottish Enterprise Energy Team, commented: “We are supporting Renewables Connection because we believe it will be a useful tool in raising awareness of small-scale renewable energy systems and will lead to an increase in the number of householders and organisations installing such systems. This should in turn help businesses which install the equipment in the North-east, which is good news for the renewables sector overall and for the Scottish economy.”
Janice Lyon, Home Energy Co-ordinator at Aberdeen City Council, added: “We are delighted that Renewables Connection will be offering a one-stop-shop for people in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire who are interested in installing renewable technologies in their homes and businesses.
“When we carried out research two years ago as part of the council’s energy-efficiency strategy, we identified a number of barriers to the take-up of renewables. Renewables Connection has been developed to overcome these barriers. The council looks forward to working with them in the future, both as a funder and user of its services.”
Fiona Bayne, Scottish Affairs Adviser with Shell UK Ltd, commented: “Shell UK Ltd is pleased to be one of the core funders of this initiative. The importance of micro-generation as part of the effort to tackle climate change is recognised by Government and it is great that the North-east is taking a lead in this area. This initiative is a good illustration of how we can all play a role in managing CO2 responsibly.”
Aberdeen Renewables Champion Iain Todd said: “The Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group is delighted to have been part of setting up Renewables Connection. This project fills a real need for independent technical advice on renewable systems. I'm sure it won't be long until this Aberdeen model is in use elsewhere in Scotland – we have already had enquiries about it from Edinburgh.”
Industry Sector Manager and Renewables Champion with Aberdeenshire Council Roddy Matheson said: “Improved insulation and the adoption of renewable energy equipment, particularly for heat generation, makes increasing economic as well as environmental sense, particularly for householders who don't have access to mains gas. The provision of impartial advice to encourage the more widespread adoption of well-proven and affordable heating solutions for North-east Scotland is an initiative we fully support and are delighted to be associated with.”
Further information from Renewables Connection development officer Jane Fraser, telephone (01224) 213005
Scottish Enterprise is the main economic development agency for Scotland covering 93 per cent of the population from Grampian to the Borders. The Scottish Enterprise Network consists of Scottish Enterprise and 12 Local Enterprise Companies. Working in partnership with the private and public sectors the Network aims to build more and better businesses, to develop the skills and knowledge of Scotland's people, and to encourage innovation to make Scotland's businesses internationally competitive.