Monday, 22 December 2014
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The week ahead: defusing a volatile situation

As far as targets go, Scotland’s plans for renewables take some beating.

In Routemap for Renewable Energy in Scotland, the nation plans to generate an equivalent of 100 per cent of electricity demand from renewable sources by 2020, along with at least 11 per cent renewable heat.

With the largest offshore renewable energy resource in the EU, Scotland is set to push the boundaries further with the deployment of the UK’s first floating wind farm.

An agreement announced on November 23, 2013 gives Statoil consent to progress Hywind, a project that has so far been in operation since 2009 off the coast of Norway.

This new phase of the project will see deployment of five, 6MW floating turbines operating in waters exceeding 100m in depth at a site in Buchan Deep, which is around 20-30km off the coast of Peterhead.

The Buchan Deep site will help demonstrate that the technology can operate as part of an array and show how lessons learned from Hywind’s first stage has been incorporated into the latest designs.

Statoil are now working to secure the necessary consents from Scottish government.

One well-worn criticism of renewable energy is intermittency, a situation that could be rectified with robust energy storage solutions, a topic that is high on the agenda this Thursday in Nottingham.

The IMechE/IDGTE seminar, taking place at the Belfry Hotel, is firmly focussed on 2020, asking how the UK will meet its renewable energy targets by that date, and considering the dual scenario of volatility in grid dynamics as a result of changes to the nation’s energy mix.

During Demand Response and Flexible Operation in UK Power Stations Richard Smith, head of Energy Strategy and Policy at the National Grid, will explain the anticipated challenges facing industry and the future energy strategies the grid has to manage them.

Demand response may well be one of the solutions and the subject is open to discussion, as are energy storage technologies, reciprocating gas engines, and modifications to CCGT Power Station to increase flexibility.

Energy is just one of the many sectors competing for the next generation of talent, a situation Airbus is addressing this coming weekend with budding aerospace engineers, logisticians and technicians being encouraged to visit the company’s site in Broughton to learn about routes into the industry.

Broughton makes wings for the A380 and the Apprentice Information Event, taking place on Saturday November 30, 2013 from 1.30pm to 4.00pm, is open to anyone who wants to find out more about the apprenticeship entry route to a career with Airbus.

In publicity material an Airbus spokesman said: ‘Apprenticeships in general have been seen historically as a poor relation to university but we want to demonstrate to those who are making their career choices that an apprenticeship with Airbus can also mean going to university and studying for a degree.’

A further initiative to boost skills has been announced by Lloyds Banking Group, which has launched a £1m-a-year sponsorship of the Lloyds Advanced Manufacturing Training Centre at the Manufacturing Technology Centre (MTC) in Coventry.

Lloyds say the centre will develop over 1,000 engineering apprentices and trainees during the initial Lloyds Banking Group partnership. The building of the centre will begin in 2014 and it will open in 2015.

The launch follows on from the recent announcement by the government that £18m is to be invested in an elite training facility at MTC.

MTC is currently developing approximately 50 apprentices and trainees, with the apprentices aged between 16 and 19 and the trainees all graduates. With the launch of the Advanced Manufacturing Training Centre, the MTC will now be able to expand its training programme.

The bank adds that all apprentices will become Lloyds Manufacturing Scholars and will be registered with IMechE, which will formally recognise apprentices as engineering technicians on graduation.

‘We are optimistic that we will develop the next generation of world-leading engineers,’ said Andrew Bester, CEO, Commercial Banking, Lloyds Banking Group.

Further optimism can be found in the Manufacturing Advisory Service’s latest MAS Barometer and EEF’s latest credit survey, both of which present evidence of improvement in UK plc’s fortunes.

Timed to coincide with the beginning of Manufacturing Matters week the MAS Barometer shows a desire from over 500 manufacturing SMEs to bring production back to the UK in order to drive down costs.

More than a quarter of respondents to Barometer stated that concerns over the cost of offshore production was the principal reason for reshoring, followed by a fifth wanting to improve quality and 18 per cent looking to reduce lead times.

Respondents have indicated that they’re also embracing new technologies (42 per cent), and investing in machinery and premises (51 per cent).

Furthermore, two thirds of firms are expecting to grow between now and April 2014, whilst 39 per cent are planning to take on new staff.

The latest credit survey from EEF shows that more companies are seeking finance as they look at new investment opportunities, and the availability of funds is improving. The cost of borrowing, however, has risen for some.

Released ahead of the next official Bank of England Funding for Lending statistics, the manufacturers organisation says the balance of companies reporting increased availability on both new and existing credit lines is in positive territory.

‘In a further sign that Funding for Lending might be having an impact on easing the flow of finance to small companies, this group also saw a positive net balance on the availability of new borrowing,’ they said in a statement.


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