Going green likely to put businesses in the black

RENEWABLE energy has faced a turbulent time of late, yet in a time when just about everything else seems in flux, it seems more important than ever that we shore up our commitment to low carbon energy production.

At Mackie’s there has definitely been a green streak in our activities since my father first installed a small lone turbine providing electricity to heat a piggery back in 1983.

That one broke down a lot, and indeed fell apart, yet even then the real excitement was to see energy being created from wind – surely a cheap (plentiful) source of power – rather than altruistic policy considerations on carbon or the ozone layer.

Sign up to our Opinion newsletter

Sign up to our Opinion newsletter

Technology has come on a long way since then – across all forms of renewable energy. Our own investment means that four turbines and a solar farm now provide 70 per cent of our energy demand and that overall the business is carbon positive – producing more electricity than is used – with the extra power being sold via the grid.

This is a pattern which could be repeated across the land.

Even the staunchest climate change sceptics would surely back any kind of energy production that uses natural resources and makes them money rather than draining the coffers.

Not all businesses have the resources – or space – to plant large commercial wind turbines and solar farms, but some co-operative projects or other energy-reducing efficiencies and technology can also be sought.

Technology is beginning to catch up in offering affordable products that save money in the medium term rather than the long. From Elon Musk and his Tesla solar roof tiles to electric transport, innovation is increasing and prices are starting to drop on green commerce.

That is vital in producing the wholesale change we hope to see not just in Scotland but across the globe.

We feel optimistic that increasingly the means exist to enable the country to be self-sufficient in renewable energy to meet the Scottish Government’s ambitious targets.

Every business will have its own approach and own needs but this must be used as motivation for continuing Scotland’s proud tradition of innovation.

So while some make the most of the tools already available to us, we must also back efforts in the universities and renewable business sector to improve not only our means of energy production but our ability to store and transfer energy – to help connect both urban and rural businesses to the green potential of our natural resources.

More than ever, going green will put you firmly in the black.

Karin Hayhow (nee Mackie) is marketing director at Mackie’s of Scotland, which operates both a 1.8MW solar farm (consisting of around 7,000 solar panels) and four wind turbines.