Finnish heat enterprises investing in solar power

Solar PV at Eno
Satellite picture based 3D model of the solar PV plant in Eno (Kim Blomqvist, Karelia UAS)

The heat entrepreneurs have been actively involved in the latest developments of the solar power in North Karelia, Finland. Several investments will take place this autumn to provide renewable electricity for district heating plants.

Finnish heat entrepreneurship is mostly based on biomass. The number of heating plants has increased steadily between the early establishments in 1990’s, to 330 plants in 2006 and 618 in 2015. About 25 % of the plants were connected to the district heating network, and the median size of the heating plants is 500 kW. The heat enterprises are mostly private companies (43%), cooperatives (12.7%) and other types of firms, mostly single entrepreneurs (44.5%).

The heat entrepreneurs have become increasingly interested in solar power integrated to the heating plans. The plans have stable electricity consumption profiles, i.e. less hourly variations compared to many other end-users. The systems require very limited service and maintenance work, and profitability is better than in solar thermal. The economic analyses indicate that the new investments in DH plans located in North Karelia will have approximately 11-15 years paybacks and 5-9 internal interest rates.

The Power from the Sun project, run by Kim Blomqvist from GREBE project partner Karelia UAS, has supported the establishment of the systems in four energy enterprises in Eno, Tuupovaara, Kiihtelysvaara, Kontiolahti and Biowin Karelia Ltd. The investments have received 25% energy support from the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation. Seven solar power plans have total capacity of 70 kW, varying between 5 to 21 kW, and estimated annual production is 52 000 kWh. The systems will be provided by a local company Mirotex Ltd. and installed in September.

Fair Isle, one of the UK’s most remote inhabited islands, will soon have 24/7 supply of electricity

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Fair Isle, is a three mile long, island in northern Scotland, belonging to the Shetland island group. It is located 24 miles south of the Shetland mainland, between Orkney and Shetland.

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Since 1980, the community of Fair Isle, currently totalling 55, has been reliant on a combination of diesel generators and wind power for its electricity needs. However, none of the two, has proved to be sufficient to provide the required amount of energy. One of the two turbines has stopped working, while the other one is reaching the end of its days.

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In addition, the back-up diesel generator frequently is turned off during the night, in order to preserve fuel stocks, as deliveries are reliant on the ferry running. Thus, currently, if the wind is not blowing at Fair Isle, the lights need to be off between 11pm and 7am. Furthermore, at present there is no storage ability or capacity for new residents.  Fair Isle is yet another example of the challenges faced by peripheral, isolated, island communities. The community has acknowledged the significance of developing an infrastructure, to allow them to sustain and grow its population, as well as, to transform life on the island.

In the beginning of this year, the project was awarded over £1m of capital stage support by the Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme’s (LCITP) funding call for large scale transformational low carbon infrastructure demonstrator projects. LCITP is supported through the European Regional Development Fund and is a partnership programme led by the Scottish Government, with support from HIE, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Futures Trust and Resource Efficient Scotland. The Scottish government has promised half the cost of the project (£1.325m), with Scottish Water and HIE Shetland pledges to match fund the project. The Big Lottery Fund has been approached for £600,000 (not yet confirmed),  the National Trust may contribute up to £100,000 and Fair Isle Electricity Company will put in £20,000. The Shetland Islands Council (SIC) political leader Gary Robinson said:

“It is clear that no stone has been left unturned in this one in search of funding. What we have here is a well thought through and carefully worked up proposal. It’s absolutely clear that Fair Isle needs to have a reliable energy scheme. I am really pleased to see the lengths gone to bring in external funding”.

The £250,000 funding granted by the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), marks the completion of the full funding package totalling at £2.6m. Fiona Stirling, development manager at HIE’s Shetland area team, said: “It’s a key factor in attracting new people to the island as well as helping businesses to develop.”

Great Glen Consulting was selected to be the project manager assisting and developing the project, while the technical design and engineering of the project will be carried out by Arcus. The project is being led by a community group, known as the Fairs Isle Electricity Company. The company director Robert Mitchell said:

“Having a constant electricity source may help to attract more people to live in Fair Isle as well as benefit the residents. It will also bring new employment opportunities and sustain existing employment. This ambitious project is the first step in ensuring that the community of Fair Isle continues to thrive.”

The £2.65m investment is for three 60kW wind turbines, a 50kW solar array and lead-acid battery storage of 500 kW hours. According to the project manager Maurice Henderson the summary of costs is the following: £620,705 will be spent on the high-voltage system; £609,435 on the storage; £660,000 on the wind turbines; £125,000 on the solar power; £98,000 on new diesel generators; £192,000 on project management and £345,786 on a contingency fund. Mr Henderson acknowledges that the scheme is not of the highest technology quality available, but he asserts that it is intended for robust reliability, which is an essential consideration for a remote island. It is envisioned to make best use of the use of wind in times of low demand. The scheme will also extend a high voltage network to the north of the island to enable grid connections to the Scottish Water treatment works, Fair Isle Bird Observatory, the airstrip and the North Haven harbour.

South Mainland councillor Allison Duncan believes that the project would help secure the future of Fair Isle, as three new families were moving in, after years of population decline. Project manager Maurice Henderson said: “I would consider this as a key project in the development plan for Fair Isle for growing more population.”

Responding to the announcement, Stephanie Clark, Policy Manager at Scottish Renewables, said: “Renewable technologies are bringing power to remote communities which otherwise either wouldn’t have electricity, or would have to rely on diesel generators for their supply. It’s great to see Fair Isle will soon join the likes of Eigg and Gigha in taking advantage of a green electricity network. Scotland’s geography and abundant renewable energy resource make it the perfect place to test these advanced energy system.

Interest grows in large-scale solar in Ireland

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Irish power utility EBS and wind specialist Bord na Móna are planning a giant solar project across three counties in the middle of Ireland. Meanwhile, large-scale PV projects with a combined capacity of 1.47 GW were submitted to the local grid operator for approval.

Ireland’s state-owned power utility Electricity Supply Board (ESB) and local wind power specialist Bord na Móna announced a plan to develop a giant PV project across four locations in Roscommon, Offaly and Kildare, in the middle of the country.

In their press release, the two companies said the plant will be able to power 150,000 homes and businesses in the area, without releasing additional information. Local media, however, reported that the installation will have a capacity of 570 MW, and that it will require a global investment of around €500 million ($545.9 million).

The Irish Minister for Communications, Climate Action, & Environment Denis Naughten welcomed the co-development agreement between ESB and Bord na Móna claiming that it will place solar technology “at the heart of the solutions needed by the Irish economy and society.”

“Wind will continue to have a major role to play in supporting the decarbonisation of our energy system, but I am acutely conscious of the need to diversify our renewable generation portfolio in order to meet our ambitious climate and energy objectives. I therefore expect other technologies, including solar, to have a growing role,” Naughten said.

This is not the first investment that ESB has made in the Irish solar sector. In October 2016, the company invested €2.5 million to acquire a majority stake in Irish company Terra Solar. “This strategic investment will see the development of multiple solar PV farms within Ireland in the future, which will result in a lower carbon footprint and contribute to increased energy production from renewable sources,” the company said at the time.

That interest in large-scale solar project is increasing in Ireland was confirmed to pv magazine by the local grid operator EirGrid, which revealed that, as of the end of February 2017, it had received approximately 1,474 megawatts of solar applications from approximately 20 developers. All of these applications were for PV projects exceeding 40 MW. “It is worth noting,” said EirGrid, “that this represents a minority of solar generation applications, the majority of which are seeking connection to the distribution system operated by ESB Networks.”

Despite this growing interest for MW-sized PV projects, Ireland has currently an installed PV capacity of around 6 MW (which is almost entirely on rooftops), according to the report Ireland’s Solar Value Chain Opportunity recently published by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.

SEAI said that the main driver for this 6 MW was Part L of the domestic building regulations, which requires a proportion of the energy consumption of a dwelling to be provided by renewable energy sources. According to the report, almost 4,000 new dwellings recorded in the country’s Building Energy Rating (BER) database have included some solar PV generation capacity.

The Irish government has certainly shown a clear commitment to renewable energy sources within the country, but has yet to finalize its renewable energy policy or the financial incentives that will be made available to renewable developments. One thing that makes the country particularly attractive for solar PV development is the growing deployment of energy storage solutions across Ireland, which should make solar technology easier to integrate.

The Irish solar landscape could grow to around 3.7 GW by 2030, said a report released in November 2015 by the Irish Solar Energy Association (ISEA).

The report concluded that the rapid cost reduction of solar seen globally since 2008 could deliver large-scale solar in Ireland at a cost of €150/MWh, and if just €670 million in investment in the sector was forthcoming between 2017 and 2030, the solar industry of Ireland could support around €2 billion of Gross Added Value.

Further information is available at https://www.pv-magazine.com/2017/05/02/ireland-interest-grows-in-large-scale-solar/

Another record in Finland: “Record-high consumption of wood fuels last year”

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Photo: Erkki Oksanen / Luke

Another record in Finland: “Record-high consumption of wood fuels last year”

“In 2016, heating and power plants consumed a total of 19.3 million solid cubic metres of solid fuelwoods, representing an increase of 6 per cent from the previous year, and more than ever before. The total consumption of wood fuels reached an all-time record as well.

In 2016, wood fuels were the most important source of energy in Finland, accounting for 26 per cent of the total energy consumption.

Forest chips used as in the previous year

The most significant solid wood fuel used by heating and power plants was forest chips, the consumption of which increased by one per cent year-on-year to 7.4 million cubic metres.

The use of forest chips in the combined production of heat and power continued to decrease, shrinking by 6 per cent year-on-year to 4.5 million cubic metres, says Senior Statistician Esa Ylitalo of Natural Resources Institute Finland.

However, the use of forest chips in the generation of heat only increased by 14 per cent, to 2.9 million cubic metres. Together with the forest chips burned in small-scale housing, total consumption reached 8.1 million cubic metres.

Small-sized trees the most significant raw material of forest chips

More than half, or 3.9 million cubic metres, of the forest chips consumed by the plants were manufactured from small-sized trees, i.e. pruned small-diameter stems and unpruned small-sized trees. The second most common source, 2.5 million cubic metres, was logging residues. The use of stumps as raw material for forest chips came to 0.8 million cubic metres, and that of large-sized timber, not suitable for the manufacturing of forest industry products, to 0.3 million cubic metres.

The use of solid by-products for energy generation on the rise

Plants consumed 8 per cent more forest industry by-products and wood residues than in the previous year, a total of 10.9 million cubic metres. The main material used in burning was bark, accounting for almost 70 per cent, or 7.3 million cubic metres, of by-product wood. The use of nearly all types of solid wood fuels increased from the previous year. Proportionally, the greatest increase (+31%) was seen in the consumption of wood pellets and briquettes, and recycled wood (+29%).

The consumption of solid wood fuels was highest in the Central Finland region, while most forest chips were burned in Uusimaa and most forest industry by-products and wood residues in South Karelia.

Record-high amounts of wood used in energy generation in 2016

Based on preliminary data by Statistics Finland, the consumption of wood fuels in energy generation was record-high in 2016, a total of 96 terawatt-hours (TWh). Of the total consumption of wood fuels, solid wood fuels of heating and power plants covered 37 TWh, the combustion of black liquor 41 TWh, the small-scale combustion of wood 17 TWh and other wood fuels 2 TWh. Wood fuels were the most important source of energy, accounting for 26 per cent of the total energy consumption.” (Luke News)

The Original news article can be found from Luke´s news section under:

https://www.luke.fi/en/news/record-high-consumption-wood-fuels-last-year/

Iceland Geothermal Conference to be held in Harpa, Reykjavik on 24-26 April 2018

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Registration is now open for the 4th Iceland Geothermal Conference (IGC) will be hosted in Harpa, Reykjavik in April 2018. The conference offers an in-depth discussion of the challenges in development of the geothermal sector.  It also focuses on the business environment built on three separate themes: vision, development, and operations.

This conference in 2018 offers science trips to nearby geothermal areas and easy access to Icelandic geothermal experts.  IGC historically offers quality lectures presented by carefully selected speakers from around the world.  This conference is the home for networking where buyers and sellers get the opportunity to form new relationships that could lead to new business opportunities.  The founders of IGC are familiar of the fact that networking is the key to any good conference.

Past IGCs have been a success, with an average of 700 participants each year.  IGC is a nonprofit event sponsored by the Iceland Geothermal Cluster Initiative.  The conference was set up as an international platform for the geothermal industry and project developers, to gather and share views on how to improve the business environment for geothermal projects.

Iceland Geothermal Cluster Initiative (IGCI) is a non-profit organization which goal is to promote geothermal energy as a competitive renewable energy solution for businesses and society. Geothermal resources in general are renewable and ideally suited to supply baseload energy improving energy security and encourage growth.

The IGCI and its members take part in hosting events and workshops, receiving delegations, sharing knowledge and experience, and assist in promoting geothermal energy. The cluster participates actively in defining best practice methodology for the sector and building up international cooperation to map best practice methods across the world, as well as performing energy related analyses and publishing reports and paper.

Registration and further information about the conference can be found on the IGCI website www.igc.is

Furthermore a youtube video on the IGC 2018 can be seen by following this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y7o_zAWMFMk

Ireland’s first National Mitigation Plan is published

Denis Naughton
Minister Denis Naughton

Irelands Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten T.D., published Ireland’s first statutory National Mitigation Plan last week, in line with its Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act, 2015, and designed to complement the country’s Paris Agreement commitment towards lowering its emissions. The 200-page document, with a foreword by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, it outlines the nation’s next era of energy engagement through to 2030 and 2050.

The first National Mitigation Plan represents an initial step to set Ireland on a pathway to achieve the level of decarbonisation required. It is a whole-of-Government Plan, reflecting in particular the central roles of the key Ministers responsible for the sectors covered by the Plan – Electricity Generation, the Built Environment, Transport and Agriculture, as well as drawing on the perspectives and responsibilities of a range of other Government Departments.

The measures that will be implemented through this first Plan will lay the foundations for transitioning Ireland to a low carbon, climate resilient and environmentally sustainable economy by 2050. This is the Government’s new blueprint for reducing greenhouse emissions in Ireland by 80 per cent before 2050.  To support this ongoing work, the Plan also includes 106 individual actions for various Ministers and public bodies to take forward as Ireland moves to implementation of what will be a living document. Importantly, the Government recognises that this first Plan does not provide a complete roadmap to achieve the 2050 objective, but begins the process of development of medium to long term mitigation choices for the next and future decades.

Environmental analysis was undertaken as part of the development of the Plan and information on how environmental considerations and the views of consultees and stakeholders influenced the Plan are set out in the Environmental Statement and the final Natura Impact Statement.

The plan has been described by Minister for Climate Action Denis Naughten as the “initial step to set Ireland on a pathway to achieve deep decarbonisation”.

The National Mitigation Plan can be downloaded from the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment website Here

Fermanagh & Omagh District Council continues commitment to sustainable development

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Fermanagh and Omagh District Council are committed to positively contributing towards the achievement of sustainable development and as such have a Sustainable Development Policy in place which is also accompanied by an annual Sustainable Development Action Plan.

Sustainable development is about meeting the needs of people today and providing them with a good quality of life without compromising the quality of life of future generations.

It is characterised typically as achieving an optimum balance between social, environmental and economic considerations.  In achieving this balance, sustainable development aims to maximise the benefits of social, environmental and economic initiatives by mitigating negative and increasing positive impacts.

By working in accordance with our Sustainable Development Policy, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council will:

  • Consider sustainability in all its actions and decisions
  • Progressively integrate sustainability principles into its daily activities
  • Seek to increase the awareness of sustainable development generally
  • Ensure that where possible, council activities support the achievement of sustainable development
  • Strive to act as an exemplar for sustainable development, ensuring policies and actions provide a lead to the local and wider community

To download a copy of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council’s Sustainable Development Policy and Action Plan, or to find out more about sustainable development projects and initiatives which the Council are involved in, visit https://www.fermanaghomagh.com/your-council/sustainable-development/

For further information on sustainable development in general, visit http://www.sustainableni.org/