There has been a tremendous reliance on fossil fuels over the last half-century. In particular, fossil fuel use has risen by more than fivefold. Oil use peaked at 1.7 billion tons in 1950 and peaked at about 8 billion tons in 1999. These estimates specifically indicate that fossil fuels account for 85 percent of global energy use. The transportation business consumes the majority of this energy. It has been suggested that the reliance on fossil fuels has negative consequences for cities, especially in terms of the construction of new housing, roads, and other urban facilities. These areas, should they continue to depend on fossil fuels, they risk the occurrence of being dysfunctional in the future. The problem with using fossil fuels to provide power and electricity is that in addition to not being environmentally friendly, these fossil fuels are easily depleted (Gowdy 1998). In fact, it has been predicted that if the world were to still depend on fossil fuels such as oil, there is a high occurrence for oil to expire in the year 2050. Other fossil fuels have been predicted to deplete within the years 2020 to 2030. Natural gas, on the other hand, has been predicted to not be available in the market anymore by the year 2040. Consequently, coal as an energy resource has also been predicted to expire before the year 2100. Uranium as well, has been said to reach the stage of depletion starting from the middle of the 2030s (Droege 2002).
The UK Renewable Energy Advisory Group (REAG) has identified renewable energy to be energy that is produced naturally by the environment to be used by man for his own use and benefit (REAG 1992). In Europe, it has been said that renewable energy resources supply 5.3 percent of the total energy being consumed by the entire continent. In the United Kingdom, renewable resources make up only 1 percent. However, in a green paper presented by the European Commission in the year 1996, it has been revealed that members of the European Commission shall increase its target to 12 percent by the year 2010. This easily translates to a significant decrease in the carbon dioxide emissions to around 250 million tonnes. Of course, over the years, the percentages have increased and according to a report released by the EU, it has been revealed that the target of EU member countries would be to make sure that at least 20 percent of their energy needs are derived from renewable energy resources by the year 2020. Based on the report, it has been mentioned that the majority of renewable energy acquired would come from the renewable gas produced by sewage and other wastes. This would have an effect of significantly reducing the cost needed to meet the target set, since huge investments are already needed to just upgrade sewage treatment infrastructure just to meet water quality directives. In addition, to make sure that wind and solar energy is used, it has been suggested that new electricity grids that link member states of the EU with North Africa have to be constructed. Finance investments can be provided by the EU itself. Furthermore, in order to make sure that the target for renewable resources are met, it has been suggested that certain agricultural activities such as livestock farming, be reduced in order to also decrease the usage of artificial fertilizers which are harmful to our environment (Tindale 2010).
The concept of geoeconomic time refers to the time period that is needed in order to analyze global warming. This time period is determined by paying attention to how the economic system interacts with the earth’s biophysical systems. Basically, geoeconomic time allows individuals to be able to emphasize on both the future and the past. It is what allows researchers and experts to analyse the future of global warming in an economic context. Put simply, the future geoeconomic time frame is based on the expectations held by an individual with regards to the interaction of geological resources. This includes sticks of fossil fuels. Thus, the geoeconomic time frame includes the earth’s situation in the past and whether this is similar to the condition expected in the future. Based on research studies, the amount of carbon dioxide produced in the earth was much higher eons ago. Since the beginning of the earth’s existence, the main source of carbon dioxide came from the plants, due to the photosynthesis process where carbon dioxide was released in order to create hydrocarbons. In the study conducted by Hall (1996), it was revealed that man has been quite ignorant with regards to the consequences brought about by global warming. Based on the research studies conducted, it has been concluded that energy policy is part of the global warming policy. In fact, energy policy consists of three factors. These are environmental pollution, national security and finally, uncertainty. Policy analysis is one that only calculates the costs and the benefits of decreasing the amount of carbon dioxide. Policy options refer to the options that help cut down carbon dioxide emissions, thereby also reducing acid disposition, decreasing urban air pollution, increasing national security and reducing the possibility of economic uncertainty. Policies addressed to combat global warming from carbon dioxide production and emissions are done if there are alternative sources to fossil fuels. It is widely known the pollution is caused as a result of the combustion of burning coal, oil and natural gas (Hall 1996). Thus, in this study, the researcher would like to investigate the various ways in which the occurrence of global warming can be reduced by placing emphasis on the usage of alternative energy resources.
Aim of the Study
Through this study, the researcher plans to find out whether Scotland has the potential of reaching its target of generating 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by the year 2020. Thus, the researcher shall approach this study by gathering relevant information that can present the potential of Scotland to catch up with other countries all around the world in attaining the same goal.
Objectives of the Study
Through this study, the researcher shall:
- Gain thorough knowledge of the disadvantages brought about by fossil fuel dependency.
- Present information about alternative and renewable energy resources.
- Gain thorough knowledge about the current environmental situation in the United Kingdom, with the focus being on Scotland.
- Provide recommendations on how Scotland can attain their goal of decreasing fossil fuel dependency and relying instead on alternative and renewable energy resources.
Significance of the Study
The increase of cities and infrastructures all over the world, especially in the 19th, 20th and 21st century also meant the increase in the usage of fossil fuels (Abernethy 1993). Currently, the growth and operation of cities all around the world meant that the world uses up around three quarters of the fossil fuels available in the world. This easily translates that fossil fuels supply 85 percent of the energy used up by the world. Due to the large frequency of dependency on fossil fuels, the world has to look for alternative sources of energy before fossil fuels completely vanish. In addition to this, the usage of fossil fuels also contributes to global warming, thereby giving way to climate change. The main fossil fuels responsible for this is the coal and oil, the combustion of which produces the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide. As a result, there is indeed a demand to look for and use alternative sources of power. In addition to this, cities all over the world may also have to make use of new technologies to redesign and reengineer existing and future infrastructures, transportation and land use systems, as well as other facilities.
According to Leva & Zaninelli (2006), the world’s energy sources has changed due to the attention provided to and the environmental concerns towards the effects brought about by the generation of energy. Due to the increasing environmental concerns and the spread of media focusing on the effects of a lack of energy resources, the impact of producing electricity has been minimized and efforts are being made to make sure that electricity can be driven from sources that are renewable. The energy policy is one that consists of the renewable energy sector. The latter possesses the ability to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions and pollution, to exploit local and decentralized energy sources, and to make use of the world’s high technology industries (Brander & Taylor 1997). The main benefits to be received from the generation of electricity from renewable sources is that once this happens, the occurrence of harmful gas emissions is lessened significantly, and the sources that would be used is infinitely available. Apparently, there is a relation between the quality of the living environment and the generation of energy, therefore meaning that the usage of fossil fuels as the source of energy has generated environmental effects that negatively affect the well-being of all individuals (Dilworth 1994). These days, the European energy markets are faced with both the liberalization issue and the fulfilment of environmental targets. Since the most that man can do is to develop the principles of sustainability and protect nature, it helps to make sure that the future generations have enough energy resources to meet their needs (Wang et al., 2006). There are three different factors that help influence the development of a community. These are namely 1) the availability of energy resources, 2) the cost of producing energy and 3) the impact of the energy sources that man has chosen (Leva & Zaninelli 2006),
According to the Commission of European Communities (2007), the European Union’s usage of renewable energy should only make up 20 percent of its energy mix by the year 2020. This is a challenging fear since 6.5 percent of the energy used up by all the members of the European Union is currently acquired from renewable sources. However, the target percentage cannot be reached if there is not a properly functioning energy market that would make certain that the development of an effectively functioning emission trading mechanism and an industry that runs on renewable energy. It has been said that a single European market for renewable energy shall bring forth a competitive environment in which renewable energy production will rise and develop in a manner that is efficient. Thus, the goal of all member countries that are part of the European Union would be to meet the target. This way, greenhouse gas emissions are reduced as well as import dependence (Zervos 2007).
According to NERA Economic Consulting (2005), achieving the European Union’s energy policy objectives will necessitate the creation of tradable green credential systems by member states. The standards will be defined as a result, and a certain amount of electricity would be produced using renewable energy sources and other “green” energy sources. A tradable green credential is one that requires member states to meet their clean energy production targets in deregulated power markets. The core idea behind green certificates is to provide a support mechanism through which the market determines the amount of support given to electricity produced by renewable energy. Producers of energy from renewable sources will be the ones to obtain a certificate for each fixed unit of electricity produced under such a scheme. This credential would act as a representation of the importance of energy to humanity and the community. The aim of establishing green certificates is to create rivalry among producers of “green” electricity. As a result, policymakers are under pressure to ensure that the green quota is met in a cost-effective way. A tradable green certificate scheme guides the production of two distinct goods through the development of energy from a sustainable source. Both are 1) power, which is known to be sold in a traditional sector, and 2) renewable certificates, which are known to be exchanged in a green certificate market. The scheme of tradable green certificates ensures that energy produced from sustainable markets can be sold as regular electricity. The added expenses of generating energy from sustainable energies, on the other side, was offset by the sale of green certificates. As a result, a major demand for renewable energy has emerged. To put it another way, the markets for renewable certificates and energy are not the same thing. In fact, the two are distinct. In order to introduce a green credential scheme, incentives for the generation of energy from sustainable sources must be given. As a result, a long-term electricity generation scheme is developed (Nilson & Sundqvist 2007).
In Sweden it is the policy of the Swedish government that the country shall acquire its energy from renewable energy sources for years to come. In the country, there exists two reasons to continue the support for promoting electricity production from renewable resources. This is due to the high security of supply and the continuous transformation of the energy system itself. In addition, increasing the production of renewable resources and the usage of this also leads to a reduction in the import dependency of non-renewable resources such as oil for instance. Therefore, there is then an increased security that non-renewable resources would not cease to exist as was predicted. The green certificate system in Sweden was first introduced in the year 2003, and has been established for the purpose of producing renewable electricity and making this process even more cost efficient than before. The green certificate system in this area is based on the quota obligations from the people who use the electricity themselves, and there are penalties for those who do not comply with the rules set by the Swedish government. Thus, all electricity users are expected to really support and use renewable resources such as solar energy, wave energy, hydro energy, bio –fuel and peat. Ultimately, it is the market that makes the decision on which technologies would be useful in helping them achieve the target set by the governments, and this in itself encourages the deployment of renewable energy resources in a manner that is cost efficient. Or Can Scotland Reach its Target of Generating 50 Percent of its Electricity from Renewable Sources by 2020?
In Sweden, the production of renewable electricity is supported by all customers who use the electricity for their own basic needs. The electricity producers in turn are expected to receive electricity certificates from their local government. They are also obliged to purchase and submit electricity certificates based on the production that is incurred by the company and the electricity that is consumed by the customers. There is an increased demand for renewable electricity due to the varying quota required of the producers every year. In this context, there is also an increased production of electricity certificates. Since the production of such certificates requires money to make, the customers are charged with extra for these certificates and in exchange, the environmental impact brought about by the generation of electricity is reduced. The producers of electricity are also required to provide information to the Swedish Energy Agency, wherein they are expected to declare the electricity that they have sold for the year. Their quota obligation can be calculated by the amount of electricity that is sold and the quota that they have reached for the previous year. New green certificates must be purchased in order to meet the new quota obligations for the following year. Through the sale of electricity certificates, the electricity producers are able to gain a certain amount of income, thereby making it easier for them to invest in projects that promote the usage of renewable energy sources (Nilson & Sundqvist 2007).
Green Certificates in Scotland
The case for green energy schemes in the UK is powerful since it requires electricity providers in the UK to purchase a growing proportion of their electricity from renewable sources. In reality, the government of the United Kingdom has set a goal of producing 10% renewable energy by 2010 and another 20% by 2020. (Office of Gas & Electricity Markets 2007). The Renewables Obligation in Scotland, as well as the Renewables Obligation in Northern Ireland and the Renewables Obligation in the United Kingdom, were all created to encourage the use of green energy in the power generation sector. A variety of agencies assisted with the implementation of those plans. The Department of Trade and Industry (formerly known as the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform), the Scottish Government and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, as well as the Gas and Electricity Markets Authority, are among them. The Renewables Obligation’s basic premise is that energy providers in England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland must source a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable sources. In the year 2002 to 2003, England, Wales and Scotland sourced at least 3 percent of their electricity from such renewable generators. This percentage increased to 5.5 percent between the years 2005 to 2005, and then in 2006 to 2007, this percentage increased to 6.7 percent. 2007 to 2008 required the 3 areas to increase their percentage to 7.9 percent and in the year 2008 to 2009, this increased further to 9.1 percent. In the year 2015 to 2016, this increased to 15.4 percent and this level is expected to be maintained until the year 2026 to 2027 (Office of Gas and Electricity Markets 2008).
In Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom, the certificates issued by the Renewable Obligation state that the sources of electricity have to be derived from sewage gas, landfill gas, wave power, wind power, tidal power, hydro power, photovoltaic cells, biomass, and biogas from anaerobic digestion processes. Basically, the Renewables Obligation is designed to provide incentives for electricity generation that stem from renewable resources. This was established in England in 2002, along with Wales and Scotland, and it was introduced in Northern Ireland in 2005. Electricity suppliers are obliged to present their green certificates or Renewables Obligation Certificates. In cases when electricity suppliers are unable to fulfil their obligation due to the lack of certificates, payments are made into the buy-out fund. The money invested in such funds are then paid back to the suppliers depending on the certificates that they are able to present (OFGEM 2010).
Renewable Resource Management
According to Ullah (2007), overexploiting renewable resources and mismanaging them is nothing new. Other resources that have been overexploited by man over the years include forests, groundwater reservoirs, soils and even fish and whales. There are two reasons why overexploitation of resources occurs. The first reason is due to the ‘tragedy of commons.’ Under this theory, individuals who have access to a resource compete with other individuals in order to benefit from the resource. As a result, the common pool community suffers because of such an imbalance. Aside from the ‘tragedy of commons,’ the other theory that contributes to the overexploitation and mismanagement of resources is the ‘commons’ problem. This refers to the overexploitation of common renewable resources. However, despite the elimination of the latter problem, overexploitation shall still exist. One other explanation for its existence is that the people themselves are not aware regarding how they can manage their resources properly. This has been attributed to their tendency to systematically have misconceptions with regards to the dynamics of bioeconomic systems.
The study conducted by Ullah (2007) suggested that the performances of individuals with regards to managing their resources can help through the development of accurate mental models of renewable resource systems. This is done by training these individuals through the usage of computer simulation-based interactive learning environments, abbreviated as CSBILEs. Sessions would include debriefing these individuals as well. Through the study conducted, a comprehensive model was also developed and used. This model consisted of four evaluation criteria, namely 1) knowledge, 2) heuristics, and 3) time that it takes to make a decision and 4) task performance. The results of the study revealed that the process of debriefing proved to be effective across all four criteria. Such a process was found to improve task performance, allowed users to gain more knowledge about the decision domain, heuristics were also developed and less time was needed in the dynamic decision making process (Davidsen, 1996). These findings are crucial for the renewable resource management process because decision makers are more able to reflect on their performance and they are also able to assess their own perceptions with regards to the task at hand in a constructive manner.
Renewable Energy and Social Enterprise Activity
Power supply companies (ESCOs), according to van der Horst (2008), are not known to offer power or energy. Instead, these companies focus on expanding, implementing, and financing policies aimed at rising energy efficiency, reducing greenhouse pollution, and minimizing long-term plant maintenance costs. With the advent of climate change and increasing oil prices, it is important that renewable energy efficiency increases, in addition to increased government support. Since the early 1990s, renewable energy technology is said to have been grown in the United Kingdom. Energy provision in developed countries is largely described by the relationship between fuel types and other technologies that utilize that energy. For eg, automobiles run on fuel, while storage heaters run on nuclear power and electricity. Mining and exporting infrastructures have started to use state and continental coverage foil and gas pipe lines over time, in addition to a power grid. Such distribution grids were initially utilized by entrepreneurs, and the usage of these grids slowly expanded. In the 1990’s, neo-liberalism was able to influence the privatization of national electricity markets as well as the deregulation of these markets. This decade also saw the threats brought about by climate change, which was in turn brought about by the increase in human activities. As a result, the government started to take control, and there has been an increasing support from the state to continue using renewable energy resources (Byrne & Rich, 1992). In the United Kingdom, technologies that help bring about further developments in renewable energy was really supported, and these technologies were sold through the grid. In the same decade, a funding programme known as the non-fossil fuel obligation or NFFO, was able to make sure that renewable energy sources were used up. However, there were some disappointing projects that failed to carry out the wishes of the government with regards to using renewable energy. In fact, the planning process itself served as the key obstacle since many projects that were proposed were also opposed by the general public. There were also some projects that were rejected altogether and at the very least, delayed. To date, developing renewable energy in the private sector has not resulted in what was first expected. The results have been quite disappointing and fallen behind the target set by the UK government. Thus, within the EU, the United Kingdom is really behind with regards to renewable energy development. However, the government itself has been performing well enough in making sure that allocated funding for such projects have been well spent. This is thanks to the increased support of domestic renewables.
According to a report undertaken by van der Horst (2008), alternative energy sources such as solar water heaters, biomass energy, and land source heat pumps have replaced the bulk of social enterprise-renewable energy projects in the United Kingdom. In reality, schools have resorted to utilizing solar photovoltaics to partake in the use of green resources. While social enterprises that use green energies are still uncommon in the UK, their numbers are growing. In reality, many wind cooperatives in the world that run on small windfarms have demonstrated their productivity in recent years. Such windfarms can be found in England in Baywind, Wales in Bro Dyfi, and Scotland in Findhorn. Bro Dyfi and Findhorn were also involved in group living projects in the 1960s and 1970s, which resulted in the founding of the Center of Alternative Energy (CAT) and the society of Findhorn. The Scottish highlands are home to the second association of green energy social enterprises. It is here where urban residents have been able to buy the private estates on which they have existed thanks to laws and state assistance. As a result, this mechanism became a resurrected mode of shared land ownership (managed as a trust), allowing local communities to assess income-generating potential on their land.
Case Study of North Assynt Estate in Scotland
Hanley and Nevin (1998) conducted a study on the North Assynt Estate, located on the North West coast of Scotland. In the study conducted, three scenarios were presented for the development of renewable energy on the Estate, to both visitors and residents. Apparently, on the Estate, there existed a three turbine wind farm on the Stoer Peninsula, a biomass development located at Culkein and the Stoer Peninsula. Finally, there was also a small scale hydroelectric scheme on the Loch Poll. The methodology of the research study conducted included the researcher resorting to a simple random sampling technique. Prior to the actual testing stage, there was also a pre-test stage and a final visitor questionnaire was administered. The researchers made sure that the a four part questionnaire was administered during the pre-test stage, and the process itself proved to be valuable when making the final questionnaire. Overall, around 76 respondents agreed to participate in the study, and this number basically makes up 8 percent of the estimated total visits during the entire sampling period set by the researchers. During the data collection process, the researchers showcased the three scenarios for renewable energy, and this was done through the presentation of the three scenarios with the use of photomontages. These photomontages showed the exact locations where the renewable resource projects would be established and the predicted effects on the environment. The respondents were then asked to determine their answers through the Likert scale, where they were to score their opinions on a scale of 1 to 5. Basically, they were asked to share their opinions while at the same time considering the environmental effects of each option. They were also asked whether the development of the mentioned areas may affect any future trips to the area, while affecting spending habits and behaviour as well. In other words, the study focused on the economic and tourism impacts on the mentioned areas and whether the development of renewable energy resources would affect the tourism sector.
Judging from the results, it was seen that from both the perspectives of the visitors and the residents, the small scale hydro scheme was the most preferred option for the ideal renewable energy source. Due to the low visitor expenditure in the area, the local economic impact study had problems in ranking the options chosen by the respondents with the basis on the effects of tourism spending. In conclusion, the researchers concluded that renewable energy developments are very beneficial for communities in rural and remote areas. It is particularly beneficial for these areas if there is a sense of community ownership is exhibited and the community members themselves are involved in the projects supporting the usage of renewable energy. Thus, the findings of the researcher show that should there be other areas in Scotland to adopt the usage of renewable energy resources, then other areas would also enjoy similar advantages (Hanley & Nevin 1998).
Alternative Forms of Energy
According to Wang & Singh (2008), there is an energy crisis occurring in several areas around the world. At the same time, man is also experiencing environmental crisis brought about by changes in the climate, and the increase of greenhouse gas emissions, which contributes to climate change. The main purpose of developing renewable energy technologies would mean that mankind does not have to dependent on the earth’s natural resources, which are depleting over time. In addition, the development of renewable energy also brings about more benefits. Taking this seriously means that healthier environments are created and the Earth is protected (Ponting 1991). It must be mentioned that most of our energy resource comes either directly or indirectly from the sun. This easily means that using the sun as an energy resource will not deplete in the near future. However, the sun is only available for a certain period of time. When night time strikes, people have to rely on other resources, such as imported fossil fuels. Fossil fuel combustion is something that contributes largely to the change in climate due to the emission of the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide. Coal, for the longest time, has been a resource that used to be abundantly available. It has also been very reliable but the usage of coal for energy and power generation has had to face extreme pressures due to the environmental regulations set in almost all areas around the world. As a result, it is indeed essential for man to start looking for other alternatives that would not pollute the environment and would not deplete over time. It must be noted that using fossil fuels as an energy resource is non-renewable. Upon using fossil fuels for energy, man does not only consume limited resources, but using such resources can prove to be detrimental to the environment in so many ways. In addition to this, using such fossil fuels are cost effective as well.
In Wang & Singh’s (2008) study, a number of alternative energy sources have been described. One of the popular renewable energy resources include wind turbine generators (or WTGs). Wind power generation has gained popularity in areas such as Germany, Spain, the Netherlands and Denmark, occupying around 84 percent of the total European wind capacity. It has been predicted that by the year 2020, wind power will fulfil the residential demands of about half of the population in the European region. In the United States, on the other hand, the usage of wind energy has grown in the last 5 years to as much as 24 percent. Wind energy is something that is widely available, is renewable and is clean (Kamp, et al. 2004). It is something that can be easily converted into electricity and this can happen via the usage of wind turbines that can be installed both onshore and offshore (van de Wekken & Wien 2006). Large scale wind farms can use them for nation-level power grids, and at the same time, small turbines can also be used for homes in the rural areas or grid-isolated locations. Wind turbine generators are usually powered by windmills, which are in turn, operated by utilities and independent power producers (or IPPs). Such windmills are also usually built either onshore or offshore, and the usage of such structures make sure that energy can be brought about without giving way to pollutant emissions (van de Wekken & Wien 2006). The only drawback of wind power is that it is highly dependent upon the weather conditions. This means that the weather is the major determinant on whether energy can be produced or not. Thus, the volatility of wind power is something that should be considered well when designing a renewable-based power plant. Based on the study conducted by Wang & Singh, other sources of power are also being taken advantage of in order to mitigate or balance the fluctuations that occur as a result of the intermittency of wind power (Wang & Singh 2008).
Solar power can be utilized to produce electricity via Photovoltaic cells, otherwise known as PVs. PV panels make use of the photovoltaic effect of semiconductors to produce electricity from the sunlight. In the United States and in Europe, PV power plants with capacities of 300 Kilo Watts to 500 Kilo Watts have been linked to power grids. Just like power generated from wind power, solar energy from the sun is influenced by meteorology. Due to its intermittent power supply, solar energy may need to be supplemented by storage batteries in order to smooth out any fluctuations. The main advantage of OV panels is that they do not produce direct emissions, and can therefore be considered to be environmentally friendly. In addition, it does not take a lot to maintain PV panels, since there has been significant improvements in technology in recent years. Furthermore, PV panels also require minimum financial investment. Further research is currently being conducted to make sure that the usage of PV cells will be less expensive and more efficient in the coming years (Wang & Singh 2008).
Tidal power has also been described to be a great alternative source that does not pollute the environment. The concept of tidal power is that it produces energy contained in moving water mass because of strong waves of rides. It is fairly efficient and is also fairly reliable. However, it is a source of energy that requires the investment of large capital, but once barrages are successfully installed, there is little need for labour and maintenance. However, using tidal power as an energy resource is something that may significantly affect the water inside the basin in addition to disturbing fish activities. Aside from such disadvantages though, tidal power has been considered to be capable of supplying continuous and predictable power and it has been anticipated to increase significantly in a matter of time (Wang & Singh 2008). According to Strategic Direction (2009), the United Kingdom possesses one of the best tidal and wave energy resources, thereby suggesting that depending on such resources alone can easily make up a fifth of the United Kingdom’s electricity demand. Given such resources, it has been suggested that the only factor missing would be the innovation of existing technologies that support the usage of such renewable resources. In addition, further research studies can also be carried out to ensure optimum development. This way, the United Kingdom can really compete with other countries around the world to make sure that they utilize their tidal and wave energy resources in a manner that it can really be used and benefitted from on a much wider scale. The SeaGen has been identified to be one of the most advanced devices for generating tidal streams, especially when it comes to commercial usage. The device was first developed by the Bristol based Marine Current Turbines (MCT) and it measures 122 feet long. An ‘inverted windmill’ helps to capture some of the energy by allowing the water instead of air, turn its sails during the flowing process. The SeaGen has been identified as the world’s first tidal stream generating system and it has already been installed in Northern Ireland- in Strangford Lough to be exact. As compared to other tidal current systems, the SeaGen has been identified to be more than four times as powerful, and as soon as it is fully operational. It has also been mentioned that once it is commercialized, its twin rotors shall operate for up to 18 to 20 hours per day with a generating capacity up to 1.2 Mega Watts. Current research studies at the Oxford University reveal the development of what is regarded as second generation tidal turbine. In comparison to existing turbines, the newly designed tidal turbine with its longer cylindrical rotor and triangulated blades, the newly developed tidal turbines have more potential to make use of tidal energy in a highly efficient manner. This is due to the designing being incorporated with the largest possible area of available flow. In addition, the costs associated with the newly developed tidal turbines are much lower than the existing ones. To further illustrate how promising the newly designed tidal turbines are, the manufacturing costs are estimated to be around 60 percent lower and the maintenance costs are also 40 percent lower as compared to the current equipment being used to harness tidal energy. Another system, currently being developed by Pulse Tidal is also on the way to being commercialized. It is supported by funds given out by the UK government and soon, there shall be a prototype tidal stream generator to be released in the Humber Estuary. The system shall be available for trials, and this will be done through the help of underwater currents, which shall move a pair of 11m hydrofoils in a vertical motion to generate electrical current. Yet another device that can be used to help bring about tidal energy, is the Pelamis Wave Energy Converter, which is another introduction in the marine renewable energy scene. This new piece of technology has been developed by the Edinburgh-based Pelamis Wave Power, and has gone through several years of engineering tests. It is also one of the world’s most advanced offshore wave energy converters. Four long cylindrical sections are connected together at hinged joints, and this is done through the help of power conversion modules, all of which house a power generation system. The device is semi-submerged and the motion produced at each joint is resisted by hydraulic rams. Thus, the waves are used to pump high pressure fluid through the hydraulic motors through smoothing accumulators. The hydraulic motors, in turn drive electrical generators to create electricity. A number of devices can be connected together and they can also be connected to the shore through one seabed cable. Other breakthrough devices include the Oscillating Water Column (or OWC), which works by allowing the sea to rise and fall within a chamber. This movement compresses the air and drives the turbine generator that creates the possibility of electricity. For a while, this has been one of the preferred solutions for applications that seek to convert wave energy into electricity. The key of such a device is to keep the entire system as simple as possible. This means that there are no moving parts. Wavegen is one of the companies that operates the Limpet, which is the world’s ‘first commercial scale wave energy plant.’ At the moment, the company is currently developing the Siadar Wave Energy Project (or SWEP), which aims to harness the power produced by waves from the Atlantic Ocean, in Siadar Bay in particular. This is done by the construction of a new breakwater that will ‘house the Wavegen turbines.’ This project is based on the OWC technology, but it must be noted that OWC is still not as efficient as many would hope it would be. However, researchers are at work to make sure that the OWC would be much more efficient in the coming years. Finally, the Anaconda is also one of the latest innovations built on the concept of wave energy. This innovation is one that consists of a giant rubber tube, is closed at both ends and is filled with water completely. It has been designed in such a manner that it is set just below the surface of the sea, with one end of the tube being made to keep contact with the oncoming waves. Thus, a wave that hits the end squeezes it and this causes a bulge wave to be formed inside the tube. As soon as the bulge wave runs through the tube, pressure is created and the tube is squeezed more and more, allowing the bulge to be bigger. This bulge wave, due to the pressure is then able to turn a turbine fitted at the far end of the device and power is produced. Finally, a cable is used to gain advantage of the power and convert it to electricity. Due to its design and the materials used to make it, the Anaconda is much lighter and easier to not only make, but also use, as compared to other devices that are meant for taking advantage of wave energy.
Geothermal energy is also another energy resource that is renewable. It usually refers to heat found in the earth and can be used to generate power. It is a resource that is more competitive in areas that have restrictions on fossils fuels as energy resources. All over the world, the usage of geothermal energy for generating electricity has been gaining popularity, reaching an estimate of 8,000 MW. The increase of fluctuating power prices have made geothermal energy an ideal source of energy because of its economic disadvantages (Wang & Singh 2008).
Another source of renewable energy comes in the form of hydrogen and fuel cells. A fuel cell is basically an electrochemical device that has the capabilities of converting hydrogen and oxygen into water. While doing so, it also produces electricity. The best features of using fuel cells is that they do no emit pollutant gases and that they also do not need to use up oil. These fuel cells have also been especially useful when it comes to producing power and electricity in locations that are in rural or isolated areas. Isolated areas include the location of spacecrafts. The power generated from fuel cells can be used in producing base-load power supplies, along with heat and power generation (El Shatter et al. 2002). They can be used to run electric and hybrid electric vehicles, off-grid power generation and so much more. The fuel cell has been considered to be the ‘microchip of the energy industry,’ because of its promising advantage to generate power and electricity in a clean manner (Wang & Singh 2008).
Production of power and electricity can also be acquired from biomass, which refers to plant matter that is grown in order to produce biofuel. In addition, biomass can also be used to produce biodegradable wastes that can be burnt to produce fuel as well. Primary components of biomass include biofuels, landfill gas, sewage treatment plant gas and solids. It is energy that is very sustainable, but it still contributes to global warming because of the gas produced from the combustion process. If biomass is burnt without considering combustion filtering measures, it is highly likely that environmental pollution problems will occur as a result. Available technologies have shown that the production of liquid fuels from the combustion of biomass is not cost effective because of the expenses incurred during the biomass production process along with the conversion procedure. The conversion procedure is one that converts biomass into alcohol, for use in generating power and electricity. However, by the year 2030, it has been predicted that the usage of biomass to produce electricity will increase three fold, thereby making up 2 percent of the demand for world energy (Wang & Singh 2008).
Storage batteries have been used by both wind turbine generators and photovoltaic cells in order to fix any fluctuations that may occur. Thus, storage batteries can be utilized to make sure that the supply and demand relationship is balanced by serving as a buffer. When the power generated by wind turbine generators and photovoltaic cells goes over the load demand, a certain amount of surplus power shall be stored in the batteries for use in the future. In addition to this, the stored power in these batteries can be used to enhance the reliability of the system, thereby reducing the occurrence of power dumping and minimizing the operational cost (Wang & Singh 2008).
Encouraging Low-Carbon Living
In a study conducted by Broer & Titheridge (2009), it was reported that the UK government aims to set its carbon dioxide emission target to 80 percent by the year 2050. In addition to this, targets have also been set at 20 percent in the year 2010 and 30 percent in the year 2020. These percentages refer to reductions in carbon dioxide gas emissions that the UK plans to attain. Despite the fact that setting such targets have been described to be quite ambitious, the UK seems determined to reach the set targets in the near future. In so doing, obvious solutions come in the form of energy efficiency and renewable energy. In the domestic sector, there are current government policies that aim to make sure that there is a significant decrease in the carbon dioxide emissions that have so contributed to the pollution experienced by the world in general. Since the domestic sector is largely composed of infrastructures, the government has decided to implement policies that target construction projects. Thus, in the United Kingdom, new homes are required to meet Part L regulations with regards to energy efficiency. Such regulations are aimed to reduce the occurrence of carbon dioxide gas being emitted when it comes to the construction of the house itself and all the other activities that would take place inside the house once the construction has been completed. From this alone, the government aims to gradually improve the emission of carbon in new homes. This is done by achieving a 25 percent reduction in energy that is consumed within the home by the year 2010, which will increase to 44 percent by the year 2013 and then zero percent by the year 2016. The final stage aims to make sure that by the year 2016, there are zero homes that give off carbon emissions. Simply put, the main idea of a zero carbon home is that there are no net carbon dioxide emissions from the energy consumed by the house’s inhabitants. However, this goal excludes the actual energy used for constructing the infrastructure, and the energy that is contained in the construction materials. Research studies have found out that homes in the United Kingdom consume 11 percent of the total energy to satisfy their needs with heating and lighting. However, even though there are potential solutions to make sure that energy and carbon savings are achieved through the construction and design process (for example: building insulation, high performance glazing and an efficient energy system), there are still other issues to be addressed with regards to the behavioural and lifestyle changes of the people instead. This extends to their activities outside the home as well. Since carbon emissions are also common in the transport sector and naturally, an individual has to spend more in order to travel from one place to another, it is wise to make sure that the land planning process is conducive to the reduction in carbon dioxide emission foals. For instance, when planning a new housing project, it is wise to really study the proximity of the housing project with other services and facilities. Thus, if a person who lives in House A wants to go to a shop, it is best if the shop is already located near the person’s residence in order to save on the amount of energy consumed for travel purposed only.
The Climate Challenge Tool is the tool used to calculate the carbon missions being saved by each individual and the cost implications that are available to builders in the construction industry. Besides capital costs, other costs that are accounted for include energy savings and the maintenance costs. Other further costs include the costs required for replacement. With regards to energy resources, it has been found out that the costs of energy resources range from approximately £ 200 to £700 for each ton of carbon dioxide gas saved. Based on such findings, it has been suggested that the UK establish cost-effective energy efficiency measures before renewable. In order for this to happen, it has been suggested that homes begin to gain energy resources from solar energy for their heating needs. It has also been suggested that the entire UK begin to start looking into developing wind parks. Instead of simply focusing on reducing the carbon dioxide emissions produced by each household in the domestic sector, it has been concluded that the government instead focus on achieving the carbon dioxide targets by focusing on sustainable lifestyles. This is because supporting low-carbon lifestyles have more advantages towards the residents than energy efficiency and renewable energy measures. Thus, the government should really look into providing good low carbon transport provisions ( supporting activities such as walking, cycling, using public transport, and car pooling), providing easier access to jobs, amenities, recycling facilities and the like. It has also been suggested that employing sustainability officers could help control and maintain the lifestyles held by UK residents, instead of merely focusing and paying attention to the renewable energy and energy efficiency measures (Masters, 2006).
In the previous chapter the researcher was able to gather relevant information that would show the potential of Scotland to reach their reduced carbon dioxide emissions by the year 2050. The main aim of most countries including the United Kingdom would be to revert to alternative sources that are renewable and are environmentally friendly. In this chapter, the researcher shall present the methodology used for the rest of the study, with the focus being on content analysis.
Since the researcher plans to focus on content analysis for this research study, the research can therefore be said to be qualitative. According to the Colorado State University (2009), the qualitative method presents data the way it is and thus does not require as much data analysis as would be expected. As compared to quantitative data that requires numerical facts in order to present information, the qualitative approach is one that depends on words and written facts.
Content analysis has been defined to be the study of recorded works with regards to information that these works hold. Thus, content analysis can come in the form of books, websites and the like, all of which contain information that can further be studied. When it comes to studying content, there are a number of details that must be taken care of. The researcher has to be able to find out 1) the data being analyzed, 2) the definitions included in the data being gathered, 3) the population from which the data is being gathered from, 4) the context from which the data is being analyzed, 4) the limitations of the boundaries of the research being analyzed, and 5) the target of the inferences. However, despite the fact that these are all ideal questions that must be answered, the analysis is still largely dependent on the content used for the data analysis process (Krippendorff 2004).
For this study, the researcher made use of valid Internet articles and journals in order to gather necessary data for the literature review section or Chapter 2 as well as the Introductory section or Chapter 1. This type of method is known as secondary data collection since it makes use of the theories, ideas and works of other individuals, most of whom are already experts in the field of education. This information shall also serve as a good backdrop when it comes to drawing conclusions about the data retrieved from primary data collection, as well as summing up conclusions for the entire study. Thus, when presenting the gathered data in the discussion section later on in this study, the researcher shall make references to the literature previously mentioned in the second chapter when appropriate, in order to satisfy the objectives as mentioned in the very first chapter.
In any research study, it is crucial that the time taken to conduct the research should be carefully considered. This paper is no exception. One of the most important factors that the researcher had to take note of was the time required to conduct the entire study, while focusing on the tasks that need to be accomplished. Before proceeding with the study, setting aside a time period allows the researcher to be more organized when it comes to keeping up with the set schedule. This way, the researcher would be able to know which tasks have to be prioritized and which tasks may be kept aside for the meantime. Should the researcher fail to keep up with the set time period, the schedule can be adjusted appropriately in order to complete the work required.
In order to write up the literature review, the researcher utilized a period of 1 month in order to gather the necessary materials required. As was mentioned in the previous paragraphs, the data collected was mainly sourced from valid journals, in relation with the topic at hand. For the data analysis period, the researcher took a total of five days to go through the relevant material, as well as write up the material that would be included in this study. For the convenience of the researcher it is important to set aside a timeline wherein the researcher can list down the tasks that need to be accomplished along with the deadlines set for each task completed and each task that has yet to be prioritized. Such an organized manner of setting aside dates and deadlines allows the researcher to know what tasks need to be completed first before the others, thereby ensuring that the study to be carried out in an organized and efficient manner (Oppenheim, 1992).
Literature Search / Search Strategy
In order to accomplish this study, the researcher had to go through several articles that could be found through online databases. Three online databases were used to search for the relevant journals. These are namely: 1) Sage Online, 2) Science Direct, and 3) Emerald. With regards to actually searching for the materials online, the researcher made sure to use the search words of ‘renewable energy,’ ‘UK,’ and ‘Scotland,’ in order to generate appropriate journals that could be used for this study. However, although there were numerous journals pertaining to renewable energy resources, the researcher found it challenging to look for journals that particularly focus on Scotland and the renewable sources sector. This was because most of the research studies conducted previously focused on the situation in other countries such as the USA and China.
The researcher decided to focus on a total of journals. The works included for the data analysis process were namely : ‘Enabling low carbon living in new UK housing developments, by Broer and Titheridge (2009), ‘Debriefing can reduce misperceptions of feedback,’ by Ullah (2007), ‘Social enterprise and renewable energy: emerging initiatives and communities of practice,’ by Van der Horst (2008), ‘Hybrid design of electric power generation systems including renewable sources of energy,’ by Wang and Singh (2008), ‘Innovations: taming sea energy, leading marine renewable energy technologies, from the journal Strategic Direction (2009), ‘Using the market at a cost: how the introduction of green certificates in Sweden led to market inefficiencies,’ by Nilsson and Sunqvist (2007), ‘Renewable energy and the city: Urban life in an age of fossil fuel depletion and climate change,’ by Droege (2002), and ‘Appraising renewable energy developments in remote communities: the case of the North Assynt Estate, Scotland,’ by Hanley and Nelvin (1998).
In the previous section, the researcher presented the methodology utilized in order to conduct this study. It was mentioned that the researcher has planned to conduct a content analysis of the data gathered with regards to non-renewable energy resources and whether Scotland has the capability of reaching its target to depend on renewable energy by at least 50 percent. In this chapter, the researcher shall analyse the content gathered from the journals that are the focal point of this study.
The study conducted by Wang and Singh (2008) outlined the various renewable energy resources that is not easily exhaustible. The most popular energy resource has proved to be wind turbine generators (or WTGs), which is also currently being used in a number of European countries. Based on the information provided, it has been predicted that the usage of wind power as a source of electricity and power shall be able to fulfil the demands of half of the population by the year 2020. The main advantages of using wind as a reliable energy resource is that it is not only clean, but it is also widely available. In fact, wind turbines can also be constructed in offshore places and not just onshore. At the moment, wind energy is being powered by windmills. The only disadvantage of being dependent on the wind for energy is that using wind as such would also mean that man would have to constantly be on the lookout for weather conditions that would help wind energy to be efficient.
Solar energy has also been identified to be a source of energy that can be used for a variety of uses- lighting and heating mostly. This can be done through the use of Photovoltaic cells, which may also be known as PVs for short. The main concept of PV panels is that they take advantage of the photovoltaic effect of semiconductors and electricity is easily generated with the help of sunlight. Although solar energy is indeed capable of providing energy up to 500 Kilo Watts, solar energy is still largely dependent on weather conditions just like wind power.
Other great alternative resources include storage batteries, which are used by both wind powered turbine generators and solar power as well. The usage of such batteries is not as popular but despite this fact, it is undeniable that they are very helpful in making sure that the reliability of the system is enhanced and they also have the advantage of minimizing operational costs. Hydrogen fuel cells have also been identified to be a renewable energy resource. The basic concept of fuel cells is that they are capable of converting hydrogen and oxygen into water. This then makes it possible for electricity to be generated. The main advantage of such a method is that no pollutant by products are produced, making the method extremely environmentally friendly. Another renewable source of energy can be found in the combustion of biomass to produce biofuel. This is a very good method to recycle wastes especially since it means that materials that go into sewage are put to good use and can produce energy. However, despite such good advantages, this method is still discouraged due to the pollution that is still causes to the environment. This is because the gas produced as a product of combustion contributes to increased levels of global warming, and the combustion of biomass itself is not cost effective due to the financial investments that are needed during the conversion process of generating energy.
Judging from the studies conducted, it appears that for an area such as Scotland, the best bet would be to support energy produced by tidal waves. Not only is this method very reliable, it is also quite efficient and does not need to depend on the weather in the same way as wind power and solar power does. In addition, there are also several devices that help improve the rate of tidal power and its contribution to generating more energy. In fact, by depending on tidal power alone can already make up a large percentage of the demand for power by the entire United Kingdom. Technologies that help bring about tidal power and increase its efficiency include the SeaGen, the Pelamis Wave Energy Converter, the Oscillating Water Column and the Anaconda. In the future, there may be more devices developed for the sole purpose of increasing the usage of tidal power as the top source for running energy all across the world. Since the United Kingdom is surrounded by the ocean, it is highly likely and it would be wise to develop further technologies to make sure that tidal power is used as the preferred energy resource (Strategic Direction 2009).
In relation to tidal wave power, the study conducted by Hanley & Nevin (1998) revealed that out of all the respondents chosen to participate in the survey administration process, it was pointed out that the majority of tourists and community members feel that developing the small scale hydro scheme is ideal for serving as the power source in the North Assynt Estate in Scotland. The researchers add however that in order for such projects to be successful, it is also wise to encourage the participation and the support of the community members as well.
On the other hand, the study conducted by Broer & Titheridge (2009) made it clear that if an area such as Scotland plans to attain its target of increasing dependency on renewable resources, it is best that the UK government invest more in building infrastructure that also does not depend on non-renewable resources. Thus, when it comes to constructing new infrastructure and facilities, it would be wise to really make sure that energy and carbon savings are achieved from the start of the design process, the construction process and even after the infrastructures and facilities are used. This means that construction builders and engineers have to make sure that the activities to be conducted by the inhabitants or the users of infrastructures and facilities would not harm the environment. Since 11 percent of the energy used in homes throughout the UK are used for heating and lighting, it would be advisable if all buildings (especially new buildings) were to contain or consist of devices that need not depend on non-renewable energy resources. However, although the government can help with this matter, it has been suggested by Broer & Titheridge (2009), that the activities of the human population residing in the UK be monitored as well to make sure that carbon emissions are kept at the lowest levels possible. The researcher agrees with Broer & Titheridge because the design and the engineering process can only do so much in reducing the dependency on non-renewable resources. Individuals must be informed and provided with constant information on how they can reduce their carbon footprints in order to help the environment and preserve resources for use in the future.
In the study conducted by van der Horst (2008), it was mentioned that the United Kingdom is not oblivious to the positive effects brought about by the usage of renewable energy resources. In fact, it was in the early 1990’s when renewable energy started to be developed and supported as a new source for powering electricity all over the UK. However, despite the efforts of the government to ensure that renewable energy resources are used for all household and industrial activities, it seems that the UK still falls behind the standards set by the EU. This can only imply that the UK government needs to implement stricter rules and regulations with regards to the resources being used to run the activities of the nation. There have been several problems in the past that showed the lack of importance given to renewable energy resources. Projects that were set to support the issue have previously been cancelled and delayed, contributing to the depletion of non-renewable energy sources such as coal and oil. Apparently, there is a need for the nation’s government to keep their priorities in check. If the opposite were to be true, then the United Kingdom and the whole world, may face a future without any resources at all to depend on.
The concept of green certificates is that member states are required to create a support system wherein renewable energy resources are used in order to produce electricity. This means that the producers of electricity are to receive certificates that show the value of electricity on both the society and the environment. It is a method to encourage competition between electricity producers, and at the same time, the government is able to make sure that the electricity produced reaches a quota which depends on renewable resources and which is cost effective. In Scotland, it is expected that through the method of issuing green certificates, the region would be able to achieve its goal level of producing electricity from non-renewable resources to 15.4 percent by the year 2027 (Nilson & Sundqvist 2007, Office of Gas and Electricity Markets 2008). As compared to other countries like Sweden, the United Kingdom places more obligations to the electricity suppliers and the government itself in making sure that the targets are met for producing renewable electricity. In Sweden, even the users of electricity are obliged to comply with the rules and regulations set by the Swedish government. Otherwise, they are subject to penalties. The researcher feels that the UK can take a few tips from the Swedish government with regards to handling their electricity production and making sure that the sources of electricity are from renewable resources.
Clearly, there is a need to really support projects that aim to use electricity from renewable resources due to the alarming rates of the depletion of non-renewable resources. These are mainly oil, coal, natural gas and even uranium. It has been estimated that later on in the 21st century, such fossil fuels would have ceased to exist completely due to the pressure put on them by the demand of mankind (Droege 2002). If the UK government were to take action, and policy makers are actually able to deliver in achieving their goals of using renewable resources by the set year, then the entire nation would have saved on using non-renewable resources by up to 250 million tonnes (Tindale 2010).
Conclusion and Recommendations
In the previous chapter, the researcher outlined the information gathered from the journals selected and the information was discussed. In this final chapter, the researcher shall provide the final conclusion derived from the data collected and also provide recommendations based on what has been learnt about the electricity sector in the United Kingdom.
It has been found out that as compared to other countries such as Sweden, the United Kingdom is one that depends more on the electricity producers and the government in order to reach the targets set regarding renewable sources. Although this means that the government is indeed serious about reaching their set targets and that non-renewable resources are well on their way to being conserved, it also means that there is more pressure on the electricity producers and the government itself to comply with set obligations. This leaves out the consumers who are also largely responsible for the energy that is being used up. The researcher therefore feels that there should be obligations also to be fulfilled on the part of the public and that they should be aware of the consequences faced by the depletion of non-renewable resources. Further usage of such sources like oil and coal also further lead to global warming contributions due to the production of greenhouse gases. In addition, if individuals all over the world were to continue support of such gases, it would mean that there would be less left for future generations to consume, if there was any left at all.
In this study, the researcher has outlined the major renewable resources to be used by the nation in order to produce electricity in a cost effective manner, which is also environmentally friendly. Out of all the renewable resources that would be beneficial for Scotland, tidal power has been described to be the most desirable renewable energy resources that is reliable, efficient and abundant, due to the geographical location of the United Kingdom itself. In fact, based on the case study by Hanley & Nevin (1998), tidal power has been identified to be the preferred choice of tourists and community members as the top electricity provider. In the same study, it has also been mentioned that the development of such projects would not have been possible if there was no support on the part of the general public. Thus, if Scotland is indeed serious about reaching their target goals for generating renewable electricity by the year they have set, it is absolutely necessary that the government not only collaborate with the electricity providers, but also collaborate with the electricity consumers.
Another study conducted by Broer & Titheridge (2009), also pointed out the consumer’s part in making sure that there is a significant reduction on carbon footprints. The researcher would like to suggest that the government pay time and attention to informing these consumers on how they can best conserve electricity and energy resources, and in so doing, it would be even more possible for the government to reach its target goals. The researcher would like to suggest that school curriculums in schools be modified in such a way that they include information about renewable electricity resources and conserving energy, so that at a very young age, individuals can be aware of the effects brought to the environment if continued support of non-renewable resources were to exist. After all, in the future, it would be the children who would benefit from the resources left behind. Thus, aside from investing large amounts of money towards the development of new devices and equipment, the researcher would like to suggest that the government also invest in the education that is imparted to the new generation.
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