Water, water everywhere

News Editor

On February 7 Briefing was censured by a reader who wrote in to speak up for tidal energy over offshore wind power.

Said reader dismissed the content of an offshore wind event as ‘balderdash and bunkum’.

In order to redress the balance, Briefing looks west to Wales and a half-day seminar taking place on Wednesday that will consider marine renewables.

The organisers say that by 2025 Wales could generate more electricity from renewables than it consumes as a nation and that much of this will be from marine sources.

Organised by IET and held at Cardiff University, three sessions will look at marine energy policy and ongoing research, tidal energy technology and deployment, and wave energy technology and deployment.

According to the event’s publicity material, speakers will consider the design and development of marine renewable technology and discuss the challenges presented in their construction and commissioning along with discussion of typical connection arrangements.

The final session will look at Wales’ marine energy policy and ongoing research to create a sustainable framework in which the country can move forward to capture energy from the sea.

From harnessing the power of the sea to mitigating floods caused by rising sea levels and news that Britain’s biggest ever emergency exercise is to take place this week.

Exercise Watermark has been designed to test a number of disaster scenarios that could arise from flash floods, overflowing rivers and a North Sea tidal surge.

Exercise Watermark is one of the recommendations made by Sir Michael Pitt in his review of the summer 2007 floods, where almost 7,000 businesses were flooded. Similarly, in 2009 hundreds of businesses were severely affected by flooding in Cumbria.

One-in-six properties in England and Wales are said to be at risk from flooding, and Exercise Watermark will bring together ten government departments, 34 local ‘resilience forums’, emergency responders, water and energy companies, plus hospitals and schools to assess preparedness.

According to the Environment Agency, five water companies and nearly all electricity providers will be using the exercise to consider the resilience of their sites and review their existing flood plan to ensure that critical infrastructure is prepared for future flooding.

Skills are back on the agenda with news that the government has today launched the Growth and Innovation Fund (GIF).

The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills says that annual investment of up to £50m per year could deliver new training to boost innovation and productivity, enable industries to set new professional standards, or support new or extended National Skills Academies.

The investment fund – which will be delivered in partnership by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) and the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) – invites proposals from employer organisations, professional bodies and trade associations.

The National Motorcycle Museum plays host this week to The Low Carbon Best Practice Exchange, where anyone involved in carbon reduction initiatives for their organizations can get together to discuss best practices.

Attendees are likely to be aware of the new low-carbon finance scheme launched last week by the Carbon Trust and Siemens. The scheme will provide finance worth up to £550m over the next three years for businesses invest in cost-effective energy-efficiency equipment or other low-carbon technologies. Click here to read more.

Finally, Thursday marks the start of the Big Bang Fair at London’s Excel Centre.

Designed to celebrate and inspire science and engineering for young people, the event will host the finals of the National Science & Engineering Competition.

According to the organizers, 2010’s competition saw 349 competitors presenting 190 award-winning science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) projects.

This year sees three age categories: Junior (11-14); Intermediate (15-16); and Senior (17-18) compete for one individual and one team winner in each age category for the science/maths stream and for the engineering/technology stream.

The two individual winners in the senior category will be given the titles the UK Young Scientist of the Year and the UK Young Engineer of the Year.

Good luck to all involved.