Arup supports tidal energy experimental rollout in Wales

05 June 2018

Tidal energy represents a huge untapped source of renewable energy – promise has been long in the making however, with the region to, as yet, yield few successful ventures. In a bid to change that, Arup has supported a new venture Minesto, to test their underwater tidal energy rig.

Generating enough sustainable energy will be one of the major challenges of the early 21st century. As it stands, wind and solar energy, networked across vast regions, are picking up the slack left by legacy fossil fuels, such as coal and gas, leaving the scene. However, much work will need to be completed across multiple fronts, from distribution to generation, for our dependence of fossil fuels – and their wide scale negative impacts – to be mitigated.

Wind and solar are only two of a growing body of technologies that provide increasingly cost-effective generation capacity. Tidal energy is a growing body of experimentation that leverage sea currents, largely from tidal shift, to generate energy. One such experiment is Holyhead Deep, located 6.5 kilometres off the coast of Anglesey in an area away from major shipping lines.

Arup supports tidal energy experimental rollout in Wales

The system leverage Deep Green device, developed by Minesto, which operate around 80-100 metres below the surface, with optimal currents of between 1.5–2 m/s mean peak flow. The device will be tethered to the sea floor, and use the lift created by the current to carve figures of eights, generating electricity from a 500 kW propeller driven by the movement. The initial test will see the installation of a test devices, if successful a total of 10 MW of production will initially be sought. Similar projects using the devices could – according to their makers – generate up to 600 GW of capacity in exploitable regions around the UK.

Engineering consulting firm Arup has been tasked with verifying the devices potential, by tapping expertise in naval architecture, structural and marine engineering to give the test its best chances of success. The base from which the device is tethered was constructed by Jones Bros Civil Engineering in a dry dock, and has been towed and lowered onto the site. In addition, the firm has supported the installation of the Arup designed gravity-based structure, which moors Minesto’s DG500 power plant to the foundation.

Commenting on the project, Gordon Jackson, Lead designer of offshore structures, said, “This constitutes significant progress for Minesto and we are happy we could play a part in helping the UK transition towards a more sustainable energy future by designing the base structure. We utilised skills from across our energy team to deliver a detailed design for Minesto and it’s great to see the design now finalised, built and in place.”

DC David Collier, Chief Operating Officer, Minesto, said, “We’re happy to be under way and to have the first piece of hardware installed at the site in Holyhead Deep. This is milestone in the DG500 project.”

Arup has an expansive portfolio of sustainability projects to call on for experience. Recently the firm was involved in the construction of an innovative solar gate in Hull to celebrate the city’s status as UK City of Culture, while earlier in 2018, the firm was commended for its role in the construction of the largest timber building in Western Europe, helping to explore alternatives to the environmentally damaging use of concrete in the built environment.



Private equity firms ramp up sustainability focus

19 April 2019

In line with business leaders across the industrial gamut, private equity firms are increasingly on board with sustainability projects. According to a new study, the investment arms for major funds are implementing a number of strategies aimed at supporting sustainable economic development in line with global goals.

While the business world has finally begun to acknowledge the danger of climate change, effective action plans remain difficult to achieve. The Paris Agreement has stipulated a clear target for the decades leading up to 2100, although massively reducing emissions while not crashing the economy could be a tall order.

Businesses that are able to acquire capital can use it to boost productivity and output, thereby creating a virtuous cycle of development. However, some businesses are better able to utilise resources than others, both in terms of their relative productivity, as well as the value of the respective outcomes relative to costs (including environmental harms). Financing can therefore provide an avenue to select businesses that are aligned with various global sustainability goals, while shunning those that drive little or unsustainable social value creation.

Top moves made by investment arms towards responsible investment

Profit has for the longest time been the central criterion for investment decisions. Yet profit at any cost is increasingly seen as creating considerable social harms, while often delivering only marginal value. As a result, the private equity sector, which was initially sluggish to change its ways with regards to sustainability, has started to see the topic as an opportunity as much as a challenge.

A new study from PwC has explored how far sustainability goals have become part of the wider investment strategy for private equity (PE) firms. The report is based on analysis of a survey of 162 firms and includes responses from 145 general partners and 38 limited partners.

Maturing sustainability

Top-line results show that responsible investment has become an issue for 91% of respondents. For 81% of respondents, ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) was a board matter at least once a year, while 60% said that they already have implemented measures to address human rights issues. Two-thirds have identified and prioritised Sustainable Development goals that are relevant to their investment segments.

Change in concern and action on climate-related topics over time

While there is increasing concern around key issues, from human rights protections to environmental and biodiversity protection, the study finds there are mismatches between concern and action. For instance, concern among investment vehicles around climate change has increased since 2016.

In terms of risks to the PE firm itself, concern has increased from 46% of respondents in 2016 to 58% in the latest survey. However, the number who have taken action remains far below those concerned, at 9% in 2016 and 20% in 2019. Given the relatively broader scope of investment opportunities, portfolio companies face higher risks – and more concern – from PE professionals, at 83% in the latest survey. However, action is less than half of those concerned, at 31%.

Changing climate

In terms of the climate footprint of the portfolio companies, 77% of respondents state concern in the latest survey. 28% of respondents are taking action through the implementation of measures to mitigate their concerns.

Concern and action taken on ESG issues

In terms of the more pressing issues for emerging responsible investment or ESG issues, governance concern of portfolio companies comes in at number one (92% of respondents), while 60% have taken action on it. Firms have focused on improving awareness – setting up policies and a range of training modules for their professionals around responsible investment decision making. Cybersecurity takes the number two spot, with 89% concerned and 41% implementing strategies to mitigate risks.

Climate risks take the number three spot in terms of concern for portfolio companies (83%), but falls behind in terms of action (31%). Health and safety track records are a key concern at 80% of businesses, with 49% implementing action. Gender imbalance within PE firms themselves ranks at 78%, which is being dealt with by 31%. A recent survey from Oliver Wyman showed that there is gender balance at 13% of GP teams in developed countries.

Biodiversity is also an increasingly pertinent topic, with risks from pollution and chemical use increasingly driving wider systematic risks around environmental outcomes. It featured at number eight on the ranking of most likely global risks for the coming decade, with its impact at number six. As it stands, biodiversity is noted as an issue at 57% of firms, with 15% implementing action.