Fife Renewables innovation centre (FRIC)and environmental thoughts
It’s day 2 of Climate week. Fife Council has arranged a number of visits to ground breaking carbon reduction projects and today’s visit was to Fife renewables Innovation centre in Methil . This world class innovative project sees hydrogen energy produced from water using wind turbine electricity. This low carbon energy is then used to fuel hydrogen powered vehicles (like Fife’s hydrogen waste trucks -the first in the UK ) and kangoo vans for use by local business and community groups . The hydrogen is also used to heat buildings and hot water and is linked to the micro grid system within the energy estate. For more information and visits see their website. http://www.fiferenewablesinnovationcentre.co.uk/
You may be asking yourself but why go to the effort of trailing new technology’s? Why not use the old carbon fuels? Cat Payne a climate expert working for Fife Council gave us a real wakeup call with her impressive presentation on climate. As she says climate change doesn’t care whether you are a believer in climate change or not. It will happen regardless of what any of us wants to happen. Because of time lags in the atmospheric system, we are still waiting for the carbon emitted over the last 30 years to affect the climate – the changes we are seeing today are from emissions released back in the 1980s. Cat suggests we in Fife need a two-fold plan of attack on climate change: mitigation and adaptation. “We have to ‘avoid the unmanageable’ by cutting carbon emissions to stop adding fuel to the fire, and limit the impacts of climate change” and “we have to manage the unavoidable” by adapting our area to the physical impacts of climate change.
We can do this by ensuring our buildings are built appropriately and can deal with extremes of heat and cold. We can build in areas that will not be prone to sea level rise and flooding from heavy rains. We need to protect our communities along our coast line and we need to start doing that now. I suggest as many Fife councillors and staff as possible hear Cat’s presentation. She will be presenting again on Thursday lunchtime at Fife House as part of Climate week. It’s important to understand the urgency so we in Fife can act now and influence policy, building and transport decisions today so we are ready for tomorrow.
After touring the hydrogen centre we came back to watch the live web broadcast from Scottish government by the Scottish Government energy policy lead: Chris Stark – he explained how the Scottish Government is planning to decarbonise Scotland’s economy. Key messages that came out were that Scotland is doing very well in decarbonising our electricity supply. But that is the easy bit! We now need to tackle transport and heating in homes and businesses – a much bigger and more complex challenge. By building well insulated homes that do not need heat we not only reduce our need to use carbon-heavy fuels, we reduce fuel poverty and improve Scotland’s balance of trade and energy security. By having electric cars we can reduce the cost of travel for citizens and increase air quality. An energy master plan delivered for Burntisland in March showed that if all the light vans and cars in the town were replaced by equivalent electric vehicles it would save residents £2.7 million a year. That is a lot of money no longer leaving the town to line the pockets of multinational fuel companies but instead available to be spent in the local economy.
A low carbon economy can make Fife a fairer healthier place to live. On that note my environment thought for today. We must not hide from uncomfortable truths . We must be aware of what lies ahead and prepare ourselves for it.
With best wishes
Cllr Ross Vettraino