GreenPower harnesses not only the energy of the sun, wind and rain, but also the competitive and independent spirit of entrepreneurs to achieve their goals. By being conscientious of the environment and the local community, the organisation operates in accordance with several of the Sustainable Development Goals. Namely, Goals 7, 12, 14 and 15, which all come together through both the company's operations and their internal culture.
Glasgow Caledonian University
Innovation within GreenPower takes a different role than other companies in similar sectors. Whereas competitors in the sector focus entirely on the innovative green energy products or solutions they can provide, GreenPower looks inwardly at the company structure and culture, cultivating a sense of self-reliance that is drawn from the company’s independent nature. Operating, typically, in 50/50 joint ventures with larger energy supply firms or maintaining full operational ownership in sole projects, GreenPower utilise their independence in a number of ways, most of which might not translate into exact figures in terms of productivity or profit gained but are certainly beneficial in the eyes of staff in the long-term operations of the company. This can also be seen from the long-term relationships the organisation builds with stakeholders, such as landowners and communities that are affected by their operations.
One of the key benefits to this company’s structure is the efficient use of centralised decision making. Although such decision making is often criticised for inefficiency, the small scale of GreenPower allows the organisation to make most of its key decisions in its open plan office headquarters in Alloa, where team members overseeing different parts of the company weigh in all on discussions, allowing for quick and informed decisions to be made, especially in times of crisis. This is of paramount importance to an organisation dealing with multiple project deadlines at once, and often having to undergo large amounts of fieldwork to meet these deadlines. This fieldwork can involve tasks such as surveying, one-to-one public interactions and local authority obligations, often demanding out of hours working.
Another key benefit of the independence held by GreenPower is the creative freedom that they can deploy when faced with unforeseen challenges. A recent example of this was the construction of the West Loch Awe Timber Haul Route (WLATHR), a collaborative effort between GreenPower and the Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) that resulted in a new 35km stretch of road that allowed GreenPower to access a previously inaccessible project space, what is now the Carraig Gheal Wind Farm. In return, this has provided FCS with long term access to a strategic haul route, which now sees around 4000 truckloads of timber a year taken off the local public roads, enhancing safety and both decreasing the workload of the local council and decreasing the time needed and fuel used to haul timber from the forests. Although it cannot be said definitively that GreenPower’s independence was pivotal to this project’s success, it is clear that it played a significant role, by allowing for quick decisions to be made and for long lasting, productive relationships to be formed.
Carraig Gheal Wind Farm and the WLATHR.
The origins of GreenPower came from owner Rob Forrest and his accumulated experience in consultancy, serving companies such as Scottish Power and National Wind Power. Rob identified renewable energy during the 1990s as a niche market for entrepreneurship, and an opportunity to become a developer. Necessary experience had already been attained including terms of land rights, financial support and consultancy. He bundled these together to form the GreenPower business.
Furthermore, the relevant expertise to manage all stages and aspects of high-quality renewable energy project development, as well as operations already existed. Additionally, the UN's Sustainable Development Goals became consistent with everything GreenPower strives for in terms of responsible development to evolve both landscape and visual designs.
With the growing concerns of the escalation and effects of climate change, renewable energy is a UK priority and increasingly sought by consumers. In order to have a substantial impact and achieve this “responsibly while making a difference,” GreenPower believe that the world should be powered by sustainable renewable energy in the form of wind, hydro and solar energy.
The main impact that is immediately identified is the environmental impact of the GreenPower innovation. Projects developed by GreenPower are now saving over 43,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions every year and generate enough electricity for around 40,600 homes. This shows that GreenPower have made a significant impact on reducing emissions but also producing energy in an environmentally responsible manner.
The construction of the WLATHR road also has a significant social impact as it diverts traffic from “C-class” roads used by local people, to a new purpose-built route. The way that this road route was constructed, with multi-stakeholder engagement, to enable the construction and maintenance of the Carraig Gheal Wind Farm, had to take into account the safeguarding of endangered species and environmental sensitivities in order to produce a shared benefit to the Wind Farm, the local forestry economy and the wider community.
It is therefore evident that the impact of GreenPower can be expressed in terms of “triple bottom line”: with benefits for people, profit and planet. GreenPower emphasise their commitment to reporting responsibly “We pride ourselves in having a high level of environmental responsibility...”
“In the development phase we are scrutinised by statutory consultees on the environment, principally SNH (Scottish Natural Heritage) and SEPA (Scottish Environment Protection Agency) but also non-governmental organisations, such as the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds)...” John describes the high level of reporting expected of the industry and stated that GreenPower has achieved and even “upped the quality of environmental impact assessment”
The business benefit of being independent and 50/50 in joint ventures is the level of control GreenPower manage to retain. Investing alongside partners allows the company to share the same risks, and be on the same level as partners, thus, building strong business relationships. This independence has been beneficial for GreenPower when looking for new stakeholders and investors.
GreenPower’s experience with numerous joint ventures mean that they have been exposed to all elements of the construction phase of all projects. Their successful portfolio of knowledge and experience places trust in future third party relations. Although their renewable energy processes can be replicated, they pride themselves on their independence and their high duty of care. GreenPower value their public relations participating in events and exhibitions to understand all personal viewpoints. They also work to mitigate any effects on wildlife, highlighted, for example, during the WLATHR road process where they worked with SNH, to avoid compromising the territory of an endangered species, the golden eagle.
GreenPower’s independence allows employees to get personally involved and meet face-to-face with those in the community close to GreenPower’s wind farms. GreenPower has found these meeting with community councils and public exhibitions to be extremely useful in reassuring those who have concerns about potential wind farms.
GreenPower’s projects supply many thousands of homes with sustainable electricity (refer to the GreenPower Energy Production Summary). The Carraig Gheal project, for example, supplies the equivalent of the average domestic electricity demand, for approximately 34 thousand homes on an annual basis. This follows GreenPower’s belief that the world should be powered by sustainable renewable energy.
GreenPower’s independence allows the company to enact their strong environmental values as shown in their environmental statements.
When preparing for the construction of the WLATHR, GreenPower’s Environmental Impact Assessment identified several endangered species and the company worked closely with its environmental advisors and consultees to avoid or mitigate any possible effects on such species including the Red Squirrel, Pine Martin, the Golden Eagle, the White-Tailed Eagle and the Red Throated Diver. During construction of the Wind Farm and the WLATHR, in respect of the Golden Eagle, GreenPower applied the safeguarding protocol it had developed with SNH and GreenPower was pleased to learn that during the year of construction, an eagle chick had been hatched and successfully fledged.
GreenPower employs licensed ecologists to make observations in relation to wildlife and the conditions of the planning consent for the wind farm require that certain surveys are carried out periodically during the operation of the project. GreenPower also plans to carry out additional surveys for the Red Throated Divers on the Wind Farm, even though the corresponding condition does not require that these are done every year.
John Morgan, Director
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Business Website: http://greenpowerinternational.com/
Year Founded: 2000
Number of Employees: 2 to 10
GreenPower is a renewable energy company based in Alloa, Scotland. The company contributes to reducing the UK and global carbon emissions, and to the welfare of the communities in which the company operates. The company have won several awards over the years, including ‘The Best Green Business’ Award in 2014 at the Clackmannanshire Business Awards and in 2018, their joint venture with Thrive Renewables to construct and operate the 3-turbine Drumduff project on a former open-cast coal mining site secured them the ‘Sustainable Development’ Award at the Scottish Green Energy Awards.
John Morgan, the interviewee, is the company director. He was hired in 2002 as the company’s first employee. His role consists of staff responsibilities, including; hiring, monitoring and assigning tasks, as well as strategic business development and certain engineering responsibilities.