Renewables Event Addresses Current Topics and Challenges in Sector

The topic of Renewable Energy opportunities was covered in depth at the first Scottish Highland Renewable Energy Conference (SHREC) held on 28th April, 2010 in the Drumossie Hotel, Inverness. Recognising a need for more information about the potential for renewable energy in Scotland, leading law firm Harper Macleod brought together key industry experts who delivered advice and information to more than 200 land owners, developers, professional advisors and local community members.

The key subject of funding for projects was covered by Chris Rodgers from the Co-operative Bank plc, which currently has £400 million available to lend to the sector. Rodgers offered sound tips on alternative groups which offer funding and grants, such as ethical Venture Capitalists, EIS Share Issue, JV partners or grant support schemes such as SRDP. Concerns about Grid Connectivity were also addressed by Alec Morrison, Major Connections Contracts Manager for Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution, who stated that the organisation's long-term proposal was to "create additional transmission capacity for further renewable generation".

David Bone, Lead Partner at Harper Macleod and Legal Adviser and Company Secretary to the Scottish Renewables Forum, gave an overview of the Scottish renewables scene, helping bring newcomers to the industry up to date on current topics. Bone, who has been described as "a standout figure in the sector" and as having "been involved in more wind farm work than any other human being" (Chambers UK 2008 and 2009) succinctly addressed current and key topics including targets, challenges and ensuring security of supply.

Inspirational words and advice were given by Maitland Mackie, Chairman of Mackies Ice-cream, and owner of four wind turbines. Mackie stressed that the Scottish rural sector should not miss "the biggest chance in the history of rural development" by failing to keep ownership of its land - land that could potentially be used to host wind turbines. According to Mackie, there is a £1 billion opportunity currently slipping through the fingers of the rural sector which could be harnessed by implementing innovative initiatives, such as forming a local consortium. This would help share costs among site owners and give collective purchasing power and borrowing strength. Mackie believes that forming a consortium could also help address the issue of funding the development and planning period, which is not offered by the banks.

Professor Lorne Crerar, Chairman of Harper Macleod, said the event gave encouragement and invaluable advice to many people involved with, or wanting to enter, the sector, "With government targets stating that 20 per cent of energy and 50 per cent of electricity should come from renewables by 2020, there is no doubt that renewable energy is an area which will receive increasing focus over coming years. Couple that with many land owners looking to use their land for wind power generation then you have a large group of people who need to know more about renewable energy. As a leading advisor in the renewables sector, that's what Harper Macleod aimed to achieve through SHREC.

"The feedback we have received so far is that it was a much needed and well-received event that provided valuable insight, inspiration and food for thought. Harper Macleod has provided sound legal advice for many years to operators in the energy and renewables sector and we will continue to organise events like SHREC in order to best serve our clients and the industry."

Harper Macleod also hosted ĎAn Introduction to Renewables' event in Edinburgh on the 21st April, which provided an overview of the renewable energy industry and the market opportunities available. More than 130 delegates attended the event and heard from speakers David Bone, Harper Macleod, and Simon Tribe, co-owner of Wind Harvest Limited, an independent wind energy development company.

Established in 1988, Harper Macleod has 43 Partners, 126 Fee Earners and a complement of over 255 staff based in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness. The firm is noted for its expertise in Social Housing, Public Sector, Corporate, Real Estate, Energy and Renewables, Litigation (including Recoveries & Insolvency, Employment and Insurance & Reparation). Clients include The Scottish Government, The Department for Work & Pensions, The Forestry Commission Scotland, Highland & Islands Enterprise, The Scottish Premier League, William Hill, Airtricity, Optical Express and Tulloch Homes.

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