The GREBE logo and branding has arrived !

social_mdeia_grebe-05GREBE has a new logo and branding, created by Future Analytic Consulting in Dublin

Choosing a logo for a project can be a difficult process, and the GREBE partners agreed on our branding in the most democratic method, that is, the most popular won!   James Sweeney, our designer in Future Analytics Consulting provided the project partners with a choice of seven different logos.  Partners ranked the logos in order of preference and the most popular was chosen.

The logo takes inspiration from the NPA programme and the priority (entrepreneurship) under which GREBE is funded.  The three hexagons reflect the entrepreneurs networking and sharing ideas which will be through our virtual ideas hub in work package 7, the renewable energy technologies, and the importance of renewable energy in everyday life.  The letters ‘RE’ are emphasised in ‘GREBE’ to highlight this important sector who are our target audience (renewable energy start ups and SMEs).

This concept will follow through in all our design and publication for the duration of the project.   We hope you like it !

CREST: Supporting businesses in renewable energy & sustainable technologies

CREST image 25-01-2016

The Centre for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technologies (CREST) is an exciting adventure that has been set up to help small businesses in Northern Ireland, the Irish border counties and Western Scotland to develop and adopt renewable energy and sustainable technologies.

CREST provides industry R&D, demonstration and testing facilities for new renewable energy products and sustainable technologies. The facilities are available for use by small companies within the region who have ideas for new products but who currently do not have the physical and/or technical capacity to develop, test and commercialise them.

Within CREST facilities staff are accessible to develop, demonstrate and test new technologies and show how these can be integrated practically and sensibly to achieve energy savings. Services offered by CREST include:

  • R&D in renewable energy systems and sustainable technologies
  • Development and testing of sustainable construction methods and materials
  • Innovative product and component design
  • Development of demonstration prototypes and models
  • Testing of renewable energy systems and products
  • Demonstration and testing of retrofit technologies
  • Data analysis and performance monitoring
  • Advice and consultancy on renewable energy and sustainable technologies

CREST operates across a network of educational institutions including Cavan Innovation & Technology Centre, Institute of Technology Sligo, and Dumfries and Galloway College in Scotland. The flagship facilities for CREST are located at South West College’s Technology and Skills Centre in Enniskillen and comprises of three areas; the CREST Passive Pavillion, the R&D Laboratory and CREST Hub.

It’s hoped that CREST will be a useful resource for businesses participating on the GREBE mentoring programme.  For further information please visit:

GREBE International Project Launch & Renewable Energy Seminar – Save The Date

The Western Development Commission are holding the launch of the GREBE project and information and networking seminar for renewable energy businesses.


This will take place at the Twin Trees Hotel, Ballina, Co. Mayo, Ireland – Wednesday 24th February, 2016 from 9.30 – 14.00 

Participants will have the opportunity to engage with the speakers in the discussion forum and informally during the seminar lunch. There shall be presentations outlining the work of GREBE in the partner regions, these will include

  • Renewable Energy Policy and Funding Mechanisms
  • The Influence of Environmental Conditions and Challenges for Renewable Energy Business
  • Linking Renewable Energy Technology and Resources in the Northern Periphery & Arctic Partner Regions
  • Business Models and Business Development Support for Renewable Energy Business
  • Knowledge and Technology Transfer and Business Delivery of Renewable Energy

Register your interest in attending via email to or by phone to the WDC offices at +353 94 986 1881.  Closing date for registration is Wednesday 17th February 2016.  While this event is free of charge, registration is required. Further information and a full schedule for the event will be forwarded in the coming weeks.

For further information on the GREBE project, please contact Pauline Leonard ( or

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The Synergy between Biomass Power and the GREBE Project

Wood biomass

A new regional renewable energy project, ‘Biomass Power’, is launched in North Karelia Finland. The project supports the adoption of decentralised bioenergy solutions and enables knowledge and technology transfer activities, as well as networking in national and international contexts.

 The GREBE associate partner Pielinen Karelia Development Center, PIKES Ltd. coordinates the consortium involving also the Finnish Forest Centre, Central Karelia Development Company, KETI Ltd, and GREBE partner Karelia UAS.

 The share of renewable energy from the total energy use of the region is about 63%, of which the share of wood energy is 82%. However, the decentralised solutions have still significant development needs. For instance, the first small-scale chp-plants based on wood fuels have barely entered the market and require user experience and high quality assurance in wood fuel production. There are also plans for the farm-scale biogas investments but they have not yet realised due to vague support mechanisms and underdeveloped markets.

 In the ‘Biomass Power’ project, Karelia UAS develops new industry projects, finds opportunities for the technology and knowledge transfer, and establishes international contacts for the developers and SMEs in the region. The GREBE business mentoring service, the Entrepreneur Enabler Scheme, will be rolled out to the region in cooperation with the regional development companies. The synergies with GREBE are evident and cooperation will take place through the GREBE Industry Advisory Group and everyday practices of project partners.


NSP image
Illustration of the planned Mine Datacenter in Maloy, Norway


With an energy system almost entirely based on renewable hydropower, Norway is well suited for hosting power consuming data storage centres. This is one of several business opportunities the Norwegian Minister of Petroleum and Energy – Mr. Tord Lien, recommend that the GREBE-Project look closer into.

According to a story in the Telegraph, teenagers spend on average 27 hours on the internet every week. The parent generation is quickly catching up, spending about 20 hours per week. We read the newspaper online, interact with friends and family on social media, stream music and films, and even buy our Christmas presents on the internet.

As we see a growing trend from physical products to digital services, the need for storing data has exploded. Enormous amounts of data needs to be processed and stored, and the computer facilities depend on energy intensive cooling systems. This also affects the climate, as much of the power comes from fossil fuel power plants.

This is where geography matters and why Norway is an attractive location for such power-consuming datacentres. With an energy system almost entirely based on hydropower, Norway is one of the very few countries in the world with a surplus production of renewable energy. This has also resulted in one of the lowest electricity prices in Europe. Nearly all projections indicate that Norway will enjoy such an abundance of renewable energy for a long time. Furthermore, the Norwegian climate is quite cold and chilly. This provides excellent conditions for natural cooling.

Norway has both the green energy and the climate to be a suitable host for energy consuming datacentres. Together with favourable investments conditions, this makes us a great location for the digital revolution. Geography still matters, even though computing is moving into the clouds.

A new target for Scotland: 50% renewable energy by 2030


Scottish Renewables (the body representing the renewable industry in Scotland) has in its latest manifesto, Renewed Ambitions: Defining the Future of Renewable Energy in Scotland, put forward that Scotland should aim for 50% of all its energy too come from renewable sources by 2030. The aim is seen as a progression from the Scottish Government’s own targets; a summary of which, and current progress on, is provided below:

  • Overall renewable energy target: 30% of total Scottish energy consumption from renewables by 2020. As of 2013 13.1% had been achieved.
  • Renewable electricity target: 100% of gross electricity consumption to come from renewables by 2020. As of 2014 49.7% had been achieved.
  • Renewable heat target: 11% of non-electric heat demand from renewables by 2020. As of 2013 2.7% had been achieved.
  • Renewable transport target: 10% of transport petrol and diesel consumption to come from biofuels by 2020. As of 2014 3.9% had been achieved.
  • Energy consumption target: 12% reduction in final energy consumption by 2020. As of 2013 14.1% had been achieved.

All of the targets listed above are framed within a 2020 timescale. Niall Stuart, the chief executive for Scottish Renewables, considers it, “…time to look beyond 2020 and for Scotland to set a stretching target for renewables to produce the equivalent of at least 50% of all energy use across electricity, heat and transport by 2030.” The manifesto sets out a strategy for government, as to how Scottish Renewables believes this can be achieved. The course of action suggested shows the pertinence of the GREBE project; with much of the strategy being aimed at creating an environment to encourage renewable enterprise. This ranges from making energy storage viable for business investment to adjusting feed-in tariff policies, changes to which (as shown in a previous Apple Juice blog post) will have a large impact on small scale renewable generation enterprises.

The release of the manifesto is timed to come ahead of Scottish elections in May, with the hope of ensuring the topic is high on the political agenda. The timing is important as there is currently a high level uncertainty in the Scottish renewable industry, with UK wide cuts and changes to funding. The extent and impact of these changes were highlighted recently by Ed Davey, the ex UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, who described the approach of the current UK Government as: “…butchering the UK’s successful renewables industry.”

Bioenergy Industry Meeting

Michael Doran and Orlaith McVeigh, of Action Renewables, attended  a joint meeting between officials from the department of Energy in Northern Ireland, DETI, and representatives of the Bioenergy Industry in Northern Ireland on Friday 8th January 2016.  The meeting was held at a farm in Greyabbey, Co.Down, owned by the BENI Chairman John Martin. The meeting discussed a number of pressing issues within the biomass industry in Northern Ireland, in particular the Renewable Heat Incentive and the effect of impending legislation on the Bioenergy industry. Representatives from DETI were questioned over the long term future of support for the renewable heat sector, with a modified renewables scheme probable in the near future. The value of bioenergy to the NI economy maintains a positive trend, supporting job creation within the industry at every level from energy crop production to marketing. The meeting was attended by Executives from IrBEA, the Irish Bioenergy Association and members of BENI, Bioenergy Northern Ireland.

group (2)

Group photo: Members of BENI, Irbea and two representatives from DETI (Seamus Hughes and Peter Briggs) discuss the RHI issues at the willow field of Farm owner and BENI chair, John Martin

Weather records in Finland – Opportunities for renewables

Kuittila Farm CHP

Finland has seen extremes in weather conditions within the recent weeks, December 2015 has been exceptionally mild whereas the new year starts with cold records in January. Those extreme conditions offer chances for renewable energy, especially energy from forest resources.

December 2015 warm – January 2016 cold.

Finland has seen higher temperatures in December 2015 than ever before, with a new record broken on Sunday 20th of December. The exceptionally mild winter continued in Finland, with temperature records broken twice already in December. On 6 December Åland basked in a relatively balmy 11.1 degrees, but that record was broken on Sunday 20th in Kokemäki, where monitoring stations recorded 11.2 degrees.

That has, however, changed now in January. Cold air from the Arctic is dominating weather conditions in Finland, with the coldest temperatures of the winter so far recorded on Wednesday 6th of January. Finland is enveloped in a Siberian deep freeze this week, severe cold continues to chill Finland, with temperatures below -20 degrees Celsius across the country – and a new winter low recorded in Muonio, Lapland. Up there the mercury dipped to -40.7 degrees at 6am on Thursday, before dropping to -41 at 8am. That is colder than at any time this winter. (Sources: Yle)

Opportunities for renewables.

The cold can cause power cuts affecting especially households dependent on electricity for heating, which is still very common in rural areas. Also milder conditions with an increased number of storms cause problems to the supply of energy to the customers. Storms have caused power cuts as a result of trees falling on power lines.

Renewable energy from forests can offer a solution in those extreme conditions. Fireplaces, stoves and other wood-based heating systems often function as back-up systems and additional heating sources. Wood energy consumption per capita in Europe is highest in Finland and Sweden. In Finland, wood-based energy accounts for approximately 85 % of the total consumption of renewable energy.

The use of chopped firewood, pellets or wood chips is very common in the rural parts of Finland. Larger scale combined-heat-and-power (CHP) plants cover the heating of large cities through district heating systems. They are often based on renewables such as wood chips from nearby forests. More than half of the energy wood purchased in the third quarter of 2015 as raw material for forest chips was pruned stemwood. This was the most valuable type of energy wood; crown mass accounted for one third of energy wood sales. (Sources: Natural Resources Institute Finland)

Forest energy based heating systems are ideal when facing extreme weather conditions in the Northern Periphery and Arctic regions. The Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) is working with forest energy within the GREBE project and will deliver solutions to other regions through technology and know-how transfer.

Renewable energy and Iceland

Geotermisk område på Island
Geotermisk område ved Krysuvik, Reykjanes Halvø, Island Foto: Yadid Levy /

Why is Iceland taking part in GREBE project?

During the course of the 20th century, Iceland went from one of Europe’s poorest countries, dependent upon peat and imported coal for its energy, to a country with a high standard of living where practically all stationary energy is derived from renewable resources. In 2014, roughly 85% of primary energy use in Iceland came from indigenous renewable resources. Thereof 66% was from geothermal sources.

Icelands unique geology allows it to produce renewable energy relatively cheaply, from a variety of sources. Iceland is located on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which makes it one of the most tectonically active places in the world. There are over 200 volcanoes located in Iceland and over 600 hot springs.  There are over 20 high-temperature steam fields that are at least 150 °C [300 °F]; many of them reach temperatures of 250 °C. This is what allows Iceland to harness geothermal energy and these steam fields are used for everything from heating houses to heating swimming pools. Hydropower is harnessed through glacial rivers and waterfalls, which are both plentiful in Iceland.

Even though Iceland is rich in terms of renewable energy there are regions in Iceland that are dependent on importing energy from others parts of the country.  Most common reason for the energy dependency is that some regions have few options in hydro or are far away from the grid, and regions are based on low geothermal areas.  These areas are often characterized with high mountains and fjords.  It is difficult to maintain the power lines plus it´s expensive.

It is important to Iceland as other countries in the NPA region to develop solutions in RE sector especially because of with dispersed settlements in Iceland, small population and dramatic weather conditions. There is a need for more entrepreneurs and SME´s within RE sector and solutions designed to fit each community based on their specific situation. GREBE project will enable local entrepreneurs and SMEs to grow their business, to provide local jobs, and meet energy demands of local communities. GREBE will support diversification of the technological capacity of SMEs and start-ups so that they can exploit the natural conditions of their locations.  So there is a lot to gain for Iceland as well as other countries within NPA region that the GREBE project delivers valuable results to the communities involved.