Friday, 22 October 2010

Biomass Power Plant Applications

Forth Energy, a company formed by Scottish and Southern Energy and Forth Ports plc, has recently submitted planning applications to develop biomass powered energy plants at the ports of Dundee, Grangemouth, Leith and Rosyth. These power stations would have a total energy capacity of up to 500MW. Because of the large bulk of wood fuel required the four sites are all in port locations and it would appear that the greater part of this wood fuel will be imported from overseas by ship. Details of the applications can be found on the forth energy website. 

Wood fuel can be a sustainable source of energy if the wood that is used is being supplied from sustainably managed forests, or if the fuel is coming from another reasonable source such as the waste stream.  It can provide a contribution to Scotland’s overall energy mix and could help reduce Scotland’s carbon footprint.  Forth Energy argue that the proposals will help meet Scottish Government targets for renewable energy and heat, and contribute towards the long term ambition of reducing Scotland’s emission of greenhouse gases by 80% by 2050. The plants would generate both electricity and could, if arrangements were put in place, provide heat for a district heating scheme.  Biomass plants are not new, there is already one at Steven's Croft near Lockerbie in Dumfries and Galloway . The plant can produce 44MW of electricity and is currently the biggest biomass plant in Scotland.  The £90m scheme was opened by First Minister, Alex Salmond, in March 2008.  The plant can burn up to 475,000 tons of wood fuel a year, most of which is sourced locally.  The new plants proposed by Forth Energy would be substantially larger than the Lockerbie plant.

However, although the technology is not new, several questions come to mind:

• Will district heating systems be put in place or will the plants be just electricity generating stations?

• All the proposed plants are in built up areas: is this the right location for new power stations?
• Is the scale of the proposed plants appropriate or are they too big to be ‘sustainable’?
• Where will the wood fuel come from: what is the carbon footprint of importing fuel from as far way as North America or Russia and can this be called a sustainable source?
• What will be the impact of harvesting wood fuel and will the wood be from forests accredited by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)?

Opposition to the Plants. There has been some opposition to these proposals, particularly the plant in Leith as a a joint letter to the Scottish Government.  The signatories do not object to biomass powered energy plants in principle but do object to the scale of the Leith proposal.  Details of the letter and its signatories can be found at the Greener Leith website.

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland debated energy generation at its meeting in May 2007. The report of the Church and Society Council discussed the energy options facing Scotland and identified two preferred options to help reduce Scotland’s carbon footprint: the development of renewable energy and the promotion of energy efficiency measures. The same report was much more critical of coal fired power plants and, on this basis, the Church opposed the proposal to develop a new coal fired power station at Hunterston in Ayrshire. The Church has not objected to the biofuel proposals submitted by Forth Energy as they appear to be consistent with the deliverances of the General Assembly. However the Kirk is  aware of the concerns of local and national groups, including members of congregations.

Get Involved. Adrian Shaw, climate change oficer therefore urges  members of congregations to learn more about the proposals and get involved in the debate. You can do this in a number of ways, says Adrian, for example, you can

• Exercise your influence on the market in your choice of energy supplier, in the products you buy as a consumer, in your investments or pension. Participate as a shareholder in company AGMs.
• Get involved in the planning process for local energy developments; become informed and play a pro-active role in shaping the developments.
• Use your democratic right to influence government. Get involved locally and nationally by asking questions, lobbying, and using your vote.

Check the websites listed above for details about the proposed developments and the opponents, and get involved in the debate!

Monday, 11 October 2010

Visit from members of the Reformed Church of Hungary

Members of the Reformed Church of Hungary visited the Church of Scotland offices in Edinburgh last week and had a chance to meet with members of the Climate Change project, as well as with the Convener and the Secretary of the Council. A number of cooperation possibilities were discussed with the view for an eventual cooperation agreement. It was very instructive to have their visit and have first hand information of the extent of grassroot involvement in environmental issues stemming from churches in Hungary.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Sludge Flood in Hungary

lg sludgeA flood of sludge from a bloken reservoir in an alumina plant has created a state of alert in Hungary. some people received severe burns and unfortunately there were some caualties as the waste, resulting from the refining of bauxite sewpt through several villages including Kolontar. Cars were swept off the road as the estimated 700 000 cubic meters of red sludge made its way through villages in the regions of Veszprém, Győr-Moson-Sopron and Vas counties, which are now in a state of emergency. measures are being taken to stop the refuse to enter the Danube. For the full story, please go to the following link.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Manager for Eco-congregation/Job Advert

EcoCongregations scotnad is looking for a full time manager's position.

Help eco-congregations make a big difference by providing inspired leadership and sound business sense!
Objectives of the post:

  • Helping create greener congregations
  • Ensure we deliver on our charitable objectives – including reducing our carbon footprint and achieving Scottish Government climate change targets
  • Help make us more commercially sound
  • Increase income from church denominations, related funds and congregations
  • Set up a supporters scheme to optimise support and raise awareness

Eco-Congregation Scotland is a growing movement of over 250 churches across Scotland – both small and large, Protestant and Catholic. Together we’re working to help care for the earth. And as an ecumenical charity, we help eco-congregations understand environmental issues, so that they can in turn take practical action and a spiritual response. No small task, we’re looking for an experienced manager who can really help us grow.

Particulars of the post:
  • You’ll have experience of working in the third sector
  •  You will be passionate about the environment and our cause
  •  You will have a proven track record of achieving successful growth
  •  You will be an inspired people manager 
To obtain further information please call 0131 240 2249 (24 hour answering service) or email

Closing date: 22 October 2010. 
Find out more about Eco-Congregation Scotland at: .
Eco-Congregation Scotland is a Scottish Charity, No. SC041287