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Focusing our energy; Companies in Scotland are coming up with clever ideas to tackle harmful emissions - proving once again that we are a nation of innovators.

WIND turbines dot the countryside and environmental issues dominate political debate - perhaps the tide is turning.

Most of the world's nations have ratified the Kyoto Protocol to tackle greenhouse gas emissions, with individual governments starting to put plans in place to meet their targets.

The Scottish government have set the nation even more ambitious targets - of cutting CO2 emissions by 80 per cent from 1990 levels by 2050.

Holyrood want 50 per cent of our energy to come from renewable sources by 2020 from a 2007 level of 12 per cent.

Energy analyst David Hunter, of independent energy consultancy McKinnon and Clarke, said: "The emergence of energy security and climate change as prominent political issues on the international stage is exceptionally timely for this country.

"While UK continental shelf oil and gas reserves dwindle and the economy adjusts to being a net importer of fossil fuels, the potential for Scotland in particular to demonstrate competitive advantage in new low-carbon technologies is huge. The chance must not be lost."

Fortunate, then, that Scotland seems to breed innovation, but not just clever ideas, clever ideas born out of often difficult circumstances.

VerdErg have been providing invaluable engineering services to the North Sea oil industry for the best part of 20 years, learning as they went.

It's this experience that is allowing them to develop their Spectral Marine Energy Converter, which can harvest energy from any moving body of water. They are currently considering a project in the Solway Firth.

Managing director Peter Roberts said: "Working for years in some of the world's harshest environments means we understand the level or robustness and reliability that is necessary.

"There are many areas around Scotland that lend themselves to be exploited by our technology that will not have an adverse effect on the environment."

Scotland's other leading industry - distilleries - is a less obvious target to improve their sustainability.

Many of them have been producing whisky for hundreds of years in a largely natural and, seemingly, environmentally friendly way.

However, today's version of the age-old process burns oil and produces a high CO2 output.

But an inventor from the north-east has come up with a system that uses indigenous algae to capture that CO2 and convert it into useful protein.

David Van Alstyne, founder and chief executive of Scottish Bioenergy Ventures (SBV), this month celebrated the launch of his carbon capture project at the Glenturret Distillery in Crieff, home to the award-winning Famous Grouse Experience.

The project was switched on by Green MSP Robin Harper.

St Cyrus-based SBV won a prestigious Shell Springboard award earlier this year for a trial of the innovative process capturing CO2 from the distillery's boiler exhaust and percolating it through algae reactors, converting it into protein and vitamin-rich animal feed.

The company will also trial a novel oil extraction system with the aim of creating biofuels from the algae. David said: "In time Scottish Bioenergy Ventures plan to roll out technology for use in other industries which emit CO2. The process is carbon negative and can play a large role in helping Scotland to become a low-carbon economy and leader in this field."

Glenturret's production manager Neil Cameron added: "We have a strong commitment to protecting the environment and are always looking for new ways to minimise the impact of the distilling process.

"The Famous Grouse, like all Scotch whiskies is a natural product. So it's exciting to be working with nature to reduce our carbon emissions."

Elsewhere, other natural substances are being used to reduce the country's impact on the climate while creating useful energy. For example, Green Energy UK have power generators throughout the UK, including a biomass plant at Gask Farm near Aberdeen that runs on pig waste.

Challenge ensures schoolkids lead by example

WHILE Scotland is already making its mark when it comes to innovative green solutions, today's schoolchildren will be the ones to continue to blaze a trail.

The Make Your Mark challenge is part of the Government's Determined To Succeed initiative to encourage enterprise at school, and this year's theme is Don't Be A Carbon Copy.

Pupils from Airdrie's Caldervale High School have won the competition for the past two years and are now looking forward to coming up with green business ideas. Make Your Mark spokeswoman Hannah Bourne said: "The notion of carbon footprinting is fast becoming part of people's subconscious.

"We wanted to use this hot topic to get students and pupils' creative juices flowing and challenge them to come up with a green business idea."


SCHOOL OF THOUGHT: The pupils at Caldervale High School in Airdrie launch the Make Your Mark challenge, above, and, right, MSP Robin Harper at the Glenturret Distillery in Crieff with David Van Alstyne
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Oct 20, 2009
Previous Article:Goodalls have seen the light.
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