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Renewables RD is key

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Much has been made of the Scottish Government’s laudably ambitious renewables target.

By: Dr Charles R Gamble, NGenTec

With last year’s interim 31 per cent target having been met, we are on track for 100 per cent by 2020, as planned. Yet there is a risk that despite such early success, we may struggle to attain the truly low carbon society that is possible without the right set of conditions in place.

In theory that’s simple: The recipe for success calls for bold and innovative thinking combined with political will and sustained commercial investment to build a renewables industry that can generate sufficient clean energy at the least possible cost to manufacturers, operators and consumers.

Yet barriers to the innovation required remain that are a cause for concern. Statistics released in November by Scotland’s Chief Statistician showed that between 2009 and 2010 expenditure on manufacturing research and development decreased by 9.2 per cent in real terms. This is worrying because there are few immediate signs that levels of private-sector R&D investment will substantially increase in the year ahead.

NGenTec is a Scottish company that designs and supplies novel generators for wind turbines. Our pioneering technology will significantly decrease the cost of wind energy – independent analysis has shown that our generators could significantly reduce the lifetime operation and maintenance costs of an offshore wind turbine.

The company simply would not exist were it not for world-leading research undertaken at the University of Edinburgh, combined with the investment required to commercialise that academic groundwork.

That’s why First Minister Alex Salmond is to be congratulated on his recent visit to Abu Dhabi today to sign a ground-breaking deal on renewables. The landmark agreement will see Scottish universities working with renewables giant Masdar to produce new wind, wave, tidal and solar energy technologies.

If, as has been suggested, today’s deal sees Scottish R&D projects tapping into Abu Dhabi’s massive financial resources, then bring it on. The net result can be a flourishing of the technical innovation needed to get Scottish firms’ home-grown solutions to national and international energy needs off the drawing board and into production.

NGenTec Quick facts

1. NGenTec designs and supplies low, medium speed and direct drive permanent magnet generators for MW scale onshore and offshore wind turbines.

2. Its world-leading technology, first developed at the University of Edinburgh’s School of Engineering, addresses some of the fundamental drivers of the wind energy market by decreasing costs, increasing reliability and maximising energy yield.

3. Based in Edinburgh NGenTec has received funding and investment from both the Scottish and UK governments, SET Venture Partners, the University of Edinburgh Technology Fund and David Brown Gear Systems. It has also established a world-class management team, attracting global experts in the wind energy field, led by Dr Makhlouf Benatmane as chief executive officer.

4. The company was formed in 2009 and is the first indigenous generator supplier for MW-scale wind energy production to be established to help Scotland realise its enormous potential for offshore wind generation.

5. NGenTec employs 15 members of staff and is currently building a 1MW demonstrator with David Brown Gear Systems.

6. Dr Charles Gamble will be speaking at the Scottish Renewables Offshore Wind and Supply Chain Conference (31 Jan – 1 Feb 2012)

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