Knowledge and Technologies for Effective Wood Procurement – GREBE partner Luke is involved in granted new project

luke blog pic 28.04.16

TECH4EFFECT just received a positive funding decision under the Horizon2020 BBI (Bio-Based-Industries) programme by the European Union. The project is led by the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO) and has partners from Italy, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Poland and Finland. GREBE partner Luke is leading the working package 1 “Increasing access to wood resources“ and involved in other working packages. The total budget of the project is 5.3 million euros.

The expected impacts are improving efficiency in silviculture and harvesting operations, improving accessibility to wood resources leading to a significant increase in productivity in forest operations over a representative period of time, increasing forest operations output minimising environmental impacts: reducing soil disturbance, efficiently & more efficiently extracted grot (residuals) and reducing fuel consumption in the forest harvesting process by at least 15%.

The specific objectives of TECH4EFFECT are:

  1. To increase access to wood resources with focus on accelerated growth rates, improved silvicultural operations and improved business models for more efficient transactions in forest management.
  2. To increase the efficiency of forest harvesting and collection with focus on infrastructure improvements, forest machine data exploitation, and improved work practices.
  3. To reduce and monitor soil impacts from forest operations through machine technologies and machine mounted sensors combined with information technology.
  4. To develop the TECH4EFFECT web-based benchmarking tool to collect and systematize data from forest management and provide a foundation for knowledge-based management of European forest operations in the future.
  5. To implement TECH4EFFECT in a global European version and in country specific adaptations through industrial leadership.
  6. To assess the environmental and socio-economic performance of the project results for the whole wood value chain.

The TECH4EFFECT project objectives are relevant also for the Northern Periphery regions and GREBE partner countries.

Iceland focuses on Climate Change

iceland post 27.04.16

The Icelandic Government has announced a growth plan regarding climate change for the next three years, which is designed to sharpen Iceland’s focus on climate change and promote the work in the field to reduce net emissions. The projects and priorities which are presented under the growth plan are diverse and many of them are independent but all have the common aim of strengthening  the fight against climate change and empowering  individuals and businesses.

The growth plan consists of 16 projects that aim to reduce emissions, increase carbon sequestration from the atmosphere, support international climate change projects and strengthen the government’s ability to handle more stringent obligations on climate change. The emphasis is on cooperation between government and market to reduce emissions in certain sectors and encourage innovation and climate-friendly solutions.

Two of the sixteen projects are targeted at transport and Iceland has great potential in that field.

Energy exchange in transport: this action plan for the coming years is focused on energy exchange, both on land and at sea, and will be submitted to Parliament as a proposal. The plan is prepared by the Ministry of Industries and Innovation and Green Energy (an initiative for energy conversion in transportation), which aims to increase the share of eco domestic energy sources at the expense of imported fossil fuel. The Icelandic government has set the goal that by 2020 the proportion of renewable energy in transport will be 10% and the forthcoming parliamentary proposal is aimed at achieving that goal.

Strengthening of infrastructure for electric cars: Efforts will be made to strengthen the infrastructure for electric vehicles in the coming years. There has been great increase in sales of electric cars in Iceland in the past few years but the lack of infrastructure is hindering further development. It is considered important that the state makes a temporary effort to build the infrastructure for electric cars to ensure access for most Icelandic people to climate-friendly solutions in transport.  Green energy will be assigned to implement this effort, which will be incorporated in the above action plan for energy exchange.

 

100% Renewable Ireland— Can it be done? The Long and Short-term Changes Required to Eliminate Fossil Fuels

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Professor David Connolly, Associate Professor in Energy Planning at Aalborg University in Copenhagen, recently gave a presentation on Green Plan Ireland  at the Institute for International and European Affairs (IIEA)  in Dublin. The presentation outlined the steps required in Ireland to transition away from fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy.

He discussed how Ireland could produce all of its energy needs from renewable resources without increasing the price of energy and also addressed the theme of heating, including district heating and heat pumps, showing what can be done in the short-term.

Green Plan Ireland is based on a peer-reviewed scientific paper published in the International Journal of Sustainable Energy Planning and Management, which outlines how Ireland can transition to a 100% renewable energy system without increasing the costs of energy, while creating 100,000 additional jobs.

The key steps required in a 100% renewable energy system are:

  • Expanding electricity production from onshore wind, offshore wind, and solar panels
  • Converting the heat supply in Irish cities from gas boilers to district heating
  • Converting the individual boilers in the rural areas from coal and oil to electric heat pumps
  • Converting our cars from petrol and diesel to electricity
  • Producing liquid and gaseous fuels from a combination of carbon dioxide and hydrogen, which are known as synthetic fuels

Prof. Connolly is an Associate Professor in Energy Planning at Aalborg University in Copenhagen, Denmark. His research focuses on the design and assessment of 100% renewable energy systems, with a particular emphasis on the integration of intermittent renewables (such as wind and solar power), district heating, electric vehicles, and the production of alternative fuels for transport. He is the coordinator of the Heat Roadmap Europe series which played a key role in the creation of the EU’s first ever heating and cooling strategy, launched in February 2016.

In other work he has quantified the impact of one potential transition for Europe from fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy, based on the Smart Energy System approach. This project was carried out in collaboration with the European Commission. Here is a short video about that study along with some links to the various publication formats.

See more about the IIEA presentation here.

Powerpoint: Download Prof. David Connolly’s presentation in .PDF format by right-clicking here and choosing ‘Save link as’.

Podcast: Download the keynote audio podcast from this event by right-clicking here and choosing ‘Save link as’.

Here you can download more about Green Plan Ireland:

GREBE Pilot Scheme opens for Applications from SMEs in the Renewable Energy Sector in Northern Ireland

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Fermanagh and Omagh District Council’s role within the GREBE project is to deliver an ‘Entrepreneur Enabler Scheme’ pilot in the Fermanagh and Omagh area. The aim of the pilot scheme is to equip businesses in the renewable energy industry with the skills and confidence to overcome the challenges they face because of their peripheral location in the Northern Periphery & Arctic (NPA) region.

The pilot scheme will engage with 12 SMEs in the sector (both existing businesses and new start-up enterprises) and offer them 6 days free mentoring support tailored specifically to their business needs. Examples of support available include:

  • Business financing
  • Business planning
  • HR issues
  • Sales & marketing
  • Technical support
  • Research & development support

Through a publically advertised open call, SMEs interested in participating in the pilot scheme have been asked to complete an expression of interest form and return it to the Council by the deadline of mid-April. The GREBE Co-ordinator for the Council, Una Porteous, will then arrange visits with applicants to complete a diagnostic assessment of their business and determine whether they will be selected to participate on the pilot programme.

Successful SMEs will be matched with suitably qualified mentors in the areas of support required and will participate in one-to-one half day mentoring sessions over a period of 9-12 months. The pilot scheme will then be reviewed, refined and rolled out by other GREBE partners across their own regions for the remaining duration of the project.

Finnish investment aid for key energy projects resulted in 55 applications – total projects value of about EUR 3.3 billion

 

The Finnish Government has approved the Government Decree on General Terms of Granting Investment Aid for Renewable Energy and New Energy Technology. The aid scheme is primarily connected with “Towards carbon-free, clean and renewable energy cost-efficiently”, the key project 1 in the Government’s focus area “Bioeconomy and clean technologies”.

The investment aid is intended for future energy solutions so that Finland can achieve its national targets and the targets laid down at EU level for 2030. Under the Government Programme, the use of renewable energy will be increased in a sustainable way so that its share will rise to more than 50 per cent during the 2020s and the self-sufficiency to more than 55 per cent. The Government Programme also envisages that the share of renewable transport fuels will be raised to 40 per cent by 2030 and that Finland will stop using coal in energy production and halve the use of imported oil for domestic needs during the 2020s.

energiamanty_maassa

The Government plans to allocate a total of EUR 80 million for the investment aid in 2017 and 2018. Aid can be sought for investments of more than EUR 5 million that concern the production of advanced transport biofuels or pilot projects for new energy technology. In the first round (by March 18th), 55 aid applications with investment projects total value of about EUR 3.3 billion were submitted to the Ministry of Employment and the Economy.

The projects applying for investment aid will be competing with each other. The aid is granted on the basis of overall consideration, in which account is taken of the amount of energy produced and cost-efficiency, as well as, inter alia, project viability, the novelty value of the project technology and the replicability of the project or the technology.

The first round of the applications included also renewable energy projects from GREBE partner region North Karelia: biochar and bio-oil production projects in Nurmes and Lieksa, biochar value-chain development project in Ilomantsi and next generation wind power demonstration project in Liperi.

Renewable energy and energy efficiency projects outside the scope of the new aid scheme may be eligible for energy support

Further information:
https://www.tem.fi/en/energy/investment_aid_for_key_energy_projects

The New Climate Economy

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Longyearbyen, Svalbard, Norway

Renewable energy and innovative climate technology would play a key role in the transformation of energy systems from fossil to renewable – due to the report: ‘The New Climate Economy’ from The Global Commission on the Economy and Climate. We are going towards a low emission society that will require changes in energy use, consumption and production patterns.

The report ‘The New Climate Economy’, shows how technological innovation and investments in efficient low emission solutions can create new possibilities for improved economic growth. A main conclusion from the report is that there is often no contradiction between economic growth and climate action. In order to achieve growth, we need to use more renewable energy, and also developing new technological solutions. In the transformation of energy systems from fossil to renewable, innovation and technology development would play a key role.

The change process to a low emission society is demanding, but also creates new growth opportunities. The periphery regions of Europe are well positioned to take part in the development of new energy and climate technology – based on their assets; renewable energy production, environmental knowledge, sustainable technology development focus and climate technology goals.

Technology development

The technology development takes place in a market with players range from major companies with designated development departments to individual enterprises and entrepreneur companies. The large companies are important for driving development, the smaller and creative suppliers often provide new ideas. The key elements for renewable and climate technology development:

  1. Private industry – is the most important driver of technology development. They develop new technology when this is competitive with established solutions. If the private industry companies and business are to invest in innovation – there must be a possibility to make profit and a market hat is willing to pay.
  2. Price level – In the energy market it has always been the price level that come first, then requirements for renewable energy and environmental standards – is this situation about to change?
  3. Recession – Technology development often take place during periods of recessions – the necessity of improving efficiency and innovation is stronger when competition gets tougher during periods with lower demand.
  4. Public support – for development of renewable energy and climate technology has proven to be important. It exists in a range of policy instruments – covering the entire development course from research to demonstration of new technology, and thus ensuring that projects reach the commercialization phase.

Necessary help

It takes time to develop new technological solutions. Without any profitable prospects, there is no basis for technology development. It is important that those with the ability and willingness to take the investment risk, receive the necessary help along the way. The GREBE Project should strengthen the efforts to bring new technology to the market, and ensure the realization of new technology projects – give the necessary help to companies that wants to bring new renewable and climate technology to the market.

The change to renewable energy is on it’s way.

European Investment Bank provides £500 million for grid connector in the Highlands of Scotland

ERI post 08-04-2016
A view across the Moray Firth to Caithness, the stretch of water where the cables will be laid.

Since the March 11th blog post on the need for grid connection to Scottish Islands the European Investment Bank (EIB) has agreed to provide £500 million (€618 million) of investment to improve the transmission network in northern Scotland.

The €618 million represents the largest investment in the electricity network in the north of Scotland for 60 years and includes a new 1200 MW subsea cable between Spittal in Caithness and Blackhillock in Moray. The laying of the subsea cable and associated onshore infrastructure works are expected to support 600 jobs during the construction phase.

The EIB Vice President Jonathan Taylor described infrastructure investment such as this as “essential to harness the full potential of new and future renewable energy schemes”, and went on to say that the “investment will ensure more efficient transmission of green energy, enable increased use of renewable power in Scotland and secure energy supply to the Highlands and Scotland’s cities.”

This will be important if Scotland is to realise its target of generating the equivalent of 100% of electricity demand from renewable sources by 2020. Scotland is currently on track to achieve this, having provided the equivalent to 57% of its electricity demand from renewable sources in 2015, according to the most recent Department of Energy and Climate Change figures. However, recent government cuts to renewable subsidy are likely to make further progress more challenging.

Whilst the investment in a subsea cable is a good news story for future renewable development in the UK, it is worth remembering that the UK is holding a referendum in June over whether to stay in the EU. The EIB is the world’s largest international public bank and is 16.1% owned by the UK government but if the UK was to leave it would no longer have a share. This would of course mean the EIB would not invest in the UK at anything like this scale, if at all, in the future.

The UK has received notable investment from the EIB over the years, particularly when it comes to energy; this is summarised in the table below.