Low carbon economy sustains 238,500 jobs across UK

Wind farm image

Some 96,500 businesses were operating in the low carbon sector – from renewables such as wind and solar power to electric vehicles – in 2014, the most recent year for which figures were available.

A third of those (34%) were primarily focused on low carbon business, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) data show.

Energy efficiency products was the biggest sector, generating £21.9 billion in turnover and employing the equivalent of 155,500 people, while renewable energy generated £15.9 billion turnover and sustained the equivalent of 43,500 full-time jobs.

Energy efficiency products was the biggest sector, generating £21.9 billion in turnover and employing the equivalent of 155,500 people, while renewable energy generated £15.9 billion turnover and sustained the equivalent of 43,500 full-time jobs.

Overall more than 4% of non-financial sector businesses were active in the low carbon and renewable energy sector, and it generated 1.3% of non-financial turnover.

The sector generated exports worth nearly £4.8 billion and imports of £5.9 billion, with l ow emission vehicles taking the lion’s share of exports, accounting for 60% or £2.9 billion, the figures show.

Scotland had the biggest percentage of companies active in the low carbon sector, with 5.2% of non-financial Scottish businesses involved in clean tech, energy efficiency and renewables and providing the equivalent of 21,500 full time jobs.


Hybrid energy solution on farm scale – Finnish GREBE partners visited a case in Northern-Savo

The Finnish GREBE project partners Luke and Karelia UAS visited Itikan tila farm in the region of Northern Savo in Finland. The farm visited will be a case study for the GREBE project on hybrid energy solutions used in energy production.

The farm is a seed producer since the 1970´s, but the ownership dates back until 1905, however, nowadays energy production plays an important role of the farm´s business. The energy production on the farm includes an own biodiesel production unit, a wind turbine, solar panels and a ground source heat pump.

The bio-oil production is used mainly to produce heat for heating and drying of grain, but also as fuel for two tractors and a harvesting machine. The production is based on rape seed oil and vegetable and frying oils from the industry in the region.  The rape residues can be processed to briquettes as cattle feed on the farm. Briquettes are also produced from straw, cutter shavings and saw dust from the local wood processing industry and mainly used for combustion in a municipal district heating scheme in the region.

The hybrid energy solution for the farm includes a 5 kW wind power plant since 2015. The energy produced is used to heat water in an accumulator. In addition to the energy production, the wind mill is an important component for the demonstration.

The farm has invested two years ago into a solar PV plant with a capacity of 10 kW. The produced electricity is transferred directly to the electricity grid. The farm used heat exchangers and heat recovery systems in many places on the farm, LED lights are the favored light option.

Another energy source is based on a ground sources heat pump system (30kW). All in all, the farm has an energy consumption of approximately 150 000 kWh, especially for seed processing and drying.

The farm is also part of the e-farm network which for example organizes visits to energy producing farms. The Itikan farm has several visitor groups each month.

The GREBE project will prepare a case study report about the Itikan farm which will then be available as good example case for hybrid energy solution for the Northern Periphery regions and GREBE partner countries.

Icelandic government invests in infrastructure for electric cars


The Icelandic government will soon advertise special subsidies for business that want to install fast charging stations for electric cars. The state intends to put 67 million Icelandic krona per year, over the next three years, to increase the number of charging stations in Iceland.

It is not yet clear whether the first grants will go to setting up charging stations on Route 1 or Ring Road, the national road in Iceland, or to enhance electric car infrastructure for certain communities.

This is done to accelerate the energy exchange which is the government policy and reduce the use of fossil fuels. The electric cars adoption has long begun in Iceland and many think it´s rational that households’ second car is driven by electricity, but the shortage of fast charging stations prevents further development. The government will release their plan on increasing the number the charging station soon, says Ms. Ragnheiður Elín Árnadóttir Minister of Industry and Commerce, in an interview with the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service on 16th May. (http://www.ruv.is/frett/rikid-styrkir-fjolgun-rafhledslustodva)

“In connection with the climate summit in Paris the Icelandic government aims to achieve specific targets to reduce net emissions and one of the projects which is covered by my ministry is precisely to encourage further investment in the infrastructure for electric cars and in order to do so we set aside 67 million ikr. per year for three years ” says Ragnheiður Elín.

The grants are not just intended to set up charging stations but also for marketing and awareness campaigns. The Icelandic Energy Fund will allocate the projects but the priorities are still unclear.  “We are still looking at how it´s best do this. Whether we will begin with the Ring road or certain towns remains to be seen. But we need to start this project to encourage and perhaps assist entrepreneurs and businesses to get started “.

GREBE E-Zine is launched !


GREBE has launched an e-zine to showcase the activities and ongoing goals of the project.

The first issue of the GREBE E-zine provides an overview of the projects aims and objectives and how the GREBE project will support renewable energy start-ups and SMEs in the Northern Periphery & Arctic (NPA) region.   This issue places a spotlight on the international launch of the project, which took place in Ballina, County Mayo, Ireland in February 2016.

GREBE Project Launch2

We will look at each of the project partners, Western Development Commission (ROI), Action Renewables (NI), Fermanagh & Omagh District Council (NI), Environmental Research Institute (SCO), LUKE (FI), Karelia University of Applied Sciences (FI), Narvik Science Park (NOR) and Innovation Center Iceland (ICE), the renewable energy sector in their region and activities in the project.

GREBE Partners


To read the GREBE E-Zine issue 1, click here

Excellent response to GREBEs Entrepreneur Enabler Scheme in Northern Ireland

EES Launch
Una Porteous of Fermanagh & Omagh District Council presenting at the Entrepreneur Scheme Launch in Balcas, Enniskillen in March 2016

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council have been delighted with the response to the call for businesses to engage with the GREBE project. The project has been oversubscribed and we are currently in the process of determining which businesses will be supported through the assistance available within the project. 

The applicants are representative of a range of providers across the Renewable sector, including some social enterprises, CHP providers, those involved in AD, biomass and those impacted by the removal of the RHI support that had previously been available.

The project co-ordinator for GREBE in Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Una Porteous, can confirm that once selected these businesses will be involved in mentoring support to assist them in progressing within the RE sector and the diversity of activity that will be represented in the choice, will reflect the range of opportunities that exists for this sector in spite of the challenges that they have to deal with.

International NPA seminar: Towards Energy Efficient Northern Societies


The aim of the new NPA co-funded SECURE project is to transfer and implement innovative energy solutions for housing and public infrastructure across NPA regions with different maturity-levels. Knowledge transfer will be demand-led, supported by a quadruple helix approach, and impact will be maximised by focusing implementation in small smart energy communities and building up local authority capacity.

The kickoff seminar will invite discussion, examine best practice and promote transnational networking on a number of issues specifically related to awareness raising and societal support, such as:

  • How can we encourage citizens to be part of the transition to future energy paths and the policymaking process that goes with it?
  • Given the scale of changes required, what are the right mechanisms to engage communities and build awareness?
  • What formal and informal approaches could be used to increase energy awareness?
  • How can public authorities develop and share effective messages?
  • What activities and programs have been successful transnationally?

With a heightened awareness of the need for increased energy efficiency and renewable technology solutions comes an opportunity to engage communities and actively involve them in the transition towards a low-carbon society.

Effective engagement with local communities is an integral part of the SECURE project. Therefore, this event will equip partners with practical strategies, verified techniques and transnational know-how to ensure a positive project outcome.

The seminar is co-financed by the Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme and is arranged in cooperation with the GREBE (Generating Renewable Energy Business Enterprise) and Poveria biomassasta projects.

Date: 18 May 2016 09:00 – 17:00
Location: Metla House, Yliopistokatu 6, FI-80101, Joensuu, Finland

Seminar Programme.

Become a procumer, a game changer in the energy market

The combination of increased use of solar energy and new technology makes it possible for everyone to become both producers and consumers of solar energy – and this situation would lead us to start talking about procumers, game changers on the energy market.

GREBE 09-05-2016

Solar PV – Attractive business investment

Solar PV has evolved from a niche technology with off-grid solutions and a very limited market – very unattractive business for investors – until the mid-2000s when the solar PV industry entered a phase of rapid and sustained growth in globally installed capacity, driven by:

  • Falling technology cost
  • Strong support mechanisms
  • Rising electricity prices
  • Rising consumer engagement

The strong support mechanisms in the European market created a wave of demand that developed a solar PV industry, a growth that has gradually shifted from an European business to include China and the US in a global market. In 2015 investments in solar PV accounted for nearly half of all investments in renewable energy globally. By 2020 global installed solar PV capacity is expected to triple relative to today’s level, and reach about 700 GW.

The solar resources in Norway

Developments of Solar PV market are lagging behind neighboring markets. At the end of 2015 the total installed capacity was:

  • Norway – 15 MW
  • Sweden – 160 MW
  • Denmark – 790 MW (holiday home off-grid segment)

Do this situation exist because there is less sunshine in Norway than in rest of Europe? No – the solar resources in Norway are comparable to those of central Europe. Lower solar insolation is compensated by cooler ambient air tempratures, which increase solar PV system efficiency. So the development of the Norwegian solar PV market is significantly less attractive than in the neighboring markets because of the economic factors – rather than the solar resources.

 The economics of solar PV in Norway

The economics of solar PV in Norway are significantly less attractive than in neighboring markets:

  • Low electricity prices – 50% below EU average.
  • High technology costs – 60% above EU average.
  • Low levels of financial support

In addition to neighboring markets – the absence of a simple and consistent regulatory framework makes it more difficult for potential customers to move from idea to investment decision. Yet – the last two years there have been an higher activity in the commercial building segments, why?

The main reason is that adopters look beyond economics when opting for solar PV investmets. For today’s adopters economics are only one of several sources of motivation – curiosity play a role in the decision to go solar – curiosity about:

  • New technology
  • Environmental benefits (Local RE Production/Local employment)
  • Emotional values (sustaiability strategy)
  • Self-produced renewable electricity (avoid electricity network bills)

 The support mechanisms has contributed to lowering the up-front investments cost of solar PV in Norway, but in spite of this the profitability of solar PV in Norway remains low, due to record- low electricity prices and high technology cost.

Rising electricity prices – opportunities for the Norwegian solar PV market 

The economics of solar PV in Norway are set to improve significantly over the next 15 years, making solar PV relevant for the majority of the market. There are to major reason for this:

  • Electricity prices – By 2030 retail electricity prices are expected to nearly double relative to todays’s level (Statnett longtime forecast). The spot prices would increase from 20 EUR/MWh in 2015 to 60 EUR/MWh in 2030.
  • Electricity network bills – Investments in the distribution and transmission electricity grids are estimated to increase the electricity network bills with 25% by 2025 relative to today’s level (2015).

At the same time – technology prices are expected to fall by 30-40% relative to today’s level. This is driven partially by a global trend of continous cost reduction for modules and inverters, as well as cost reduction of installation, as the market and solar industry mature.

If this analysis is correct – the payback time for residential solar PV systems in Norway are set to fall to about 10 years (subsidy free payback time). With existing investment support in place, a 10 year payback is expected already sometime around 2023, falling to 7-8 years in 2030.

Transformation of the market

The rising of electricity prices and the falling of technology cost in the solar PV market would be the key factors that gives birth to the Norwegian procumers.

  •  Consumers – will become procumers; today’s passiv consumers will become active producers of electricity from renewable energy sources – with options:
  1. Sales of electricity to grid/power-network
  2. 100% self-suppliers of electricity (cost-cut of electricity network bill) Solar PV
  3. Combination of solar PV electricity production and energy storage (Hydrogen)
  4. Private grids/power network (small society solutions – Solar PV + Hydrogen)
  5. Solar PV electricity production for Hydrogen production (energy storage and sales)
  • Companies – investment and use of local produced RE/storage of RE (SME procumers)
  1. SME’s most reduce their electricity costs
  2. SME’s can’t afford increased electricity bills
  3. Automation of the production would increase the need for electricity
  4. Reduction of electricity cost by investment in RE-systems
  5. Possibility of becoming 100% self-suppliers by investment in RE-systems and storage of energy (Hydrogen-production/Battery)
  • Energy producers – must create strategies to meet the transformation of the market
  1. Export of renewable energy (long term contracts – «Battery strategy»)
  2. Investment in small Solar PV installation (market segment)
  3. Solar PV as electricity suppliers (add to portifolio – smart home/electric vehicle)
  4. Not very happy with giving RE producers access to the grid/power network
  5. Need to develop customer loyalty solutions
  6. Facing low margins and high marketing cost
  • Solar PV Systems – Sustainable market growth and new business opportunities
  1. Delivery models – all in one systems solutions with complementary services
  2. Financing – making it possible to produce electricity without access to upfront capital/Providing capital to SME investment in building solar PV systems
  3. Maintenance – Solar PV Service suppliers
  4. Market integration – Connection to Solar PV eco-systems/Energy sales
  5. Storage solutions – Battery or Hydrogen solutions
  6. Key question information – covering technology, cost, support, finance etc so that customers could understand the cost-benefit equation of Solar PV.
  7. Standardization – the need to deal with multiple actors and bureucratic rules:

-PV providers

-Network companies


 Procumers – the game changers

The Solar PV market will continue to grow, as profitability improves over the coming years. As key stakeholders the network companies and regulators should assess to what extent the existing capabilities are sufficient to support the development of Solar PV. At the same time, they should consider how they can help simplify the process for customers as individuals and for SME/Industry as a whole.

Solar PV commercial customers, individuals and SME’s, look upon Solar PV as a sustainable energy strategy – and they would soon be joined by lager players wanting to enter the market. The procumers has start to ask questions that makes it necessary for actors in the energy sector to define the roles they wish to have in the emerging market. The procumers asking key questions as:

  • What are the direct and indirect benefits of Solar PV for me/my business?
  • Can I /we /my business start renewable energy production?
  • Can I/we/My business start energy production and sell it?
  • Can I/we/My business start energy storage (battery, hydrogen) from RE systems?
  • How will technology cost and energy prices develop in the future?
  • How can solar PV benefit my competitive positioning in the market?
  • What are my retur on investment?

A profitability analysis alone does not provide a complete answer to all the procumers questions, but the Norwegian solar PV market shows growth and the profitability analysis gives answers that indicates that the market would increase over a relatively short periode of time. The procumers would stay in the market driven by both rational-economic facts and non-economics considerations – this couls change the whole energy market in Norway. The procumers could become game changers.

It is therefore important for commercial and public actors to initiate a strategy process around solar PV – with a view to prepare for the future developments of Norwegian solar PV.

Scotland over halfway to 2020 renewable generation target

ERI 05-05-2016

Scotland generated 21 983 GWh of renewable electricity in 2015, according to the latest round of Scottish Government energy statistics. Using 2014 electricity demand as a proxy for that of 2015 means for the first time Scotland generated more than half (57.7%) of its total electricity demand from renewable sources.

This marks a significant step towards the Scottish Government 2020 target of the equivalent to 100% of Scotland’s electricity demand being generated by renewables and shows substantial growth and progression in Scotland’s renewable industry; in 2003 the figure was just 9%. Wind in particular has contributed to this increase in renewable generation (see Table 1).

Year Wind Hydro Wave and tidal Solar PV Landfill Sewage Other biofuels Total
2000 216.7 4,665.30 0 0 68.5 0 21.1 4,971.60
2001 245.2 3,737.50 0 0 109.3 0 110.4 4,202.40
2002 406.1 4,455.40 0 0 157 0 80.1 5,098.70
2003 448.9 2,902.00 0 0 228 0 145.5 3,724.40
2004 848.4 4,474.80 0 0 339.2 0 169.8 5,832.20
2005 1,280.90 4,612.20 0 0 395.4 0 197.2 6,485.70
2006 2,022.90 4,224.90 0 0 424 0 283.7 6,955.60
2007 2,644.00 4,692.90 0 0 486.5 0 179.8 8,003.20
2008 3,360.10 4,700.60 0 0 501.7 20.3 479 9,061.80
2009 4,553.90 4,856.70 0.1 0 533.8 25.8 616.1 10,586.40
2010 4,921.90 3,255.50 0 0.8 529.1 31.9 725.5 9,464.80
2011 7,099.50 5,319.30 0.4 8.3 509.4 35.3 714 13,686.30
2012 8,294.30 4,838.30 0.5 67.2 547.1 35.4 902 14,684.90
2013 11,133.30 4,362.70 2.5 90.7 562.8 30.2 766.5 16,948.60
2014 11,664.10 5,435.80 2.1 131.7 533.5 28.2 1,166.50 18,961.90
2015 14,136.00 5,828.00 1 193 499 26 1,299.00 21,983.00

Table 1. Annual electricity generation (GWh) from different renewable sources in Scotland since 2000.

Scotland’s excellent wind resource is not the only reason behind growth in the industry; there has been strong political support from the Scottish Government and reliable financial assistance in the form of Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs). ROCs were introduced in 2003, giving a guaranteed level of subsidy to electricity produced by renewables. After the expected lag in the first year of the scheme due to planning and installation times there has been a rapid growth in wind power generated in Scotland (the reason for limited growth from 2009 to 2010 is 2010 was an exceptionally calm year). However, the UK Government is now switching subsidy schemes to one where renewables must enter a bidding process to secure funding. In the offshore wind sector in particular has already led to lengthy project delays.

Another renewable sector which has seen growth but is going to be heavily impacted by a change in subsidy is solar PV. In 2010 the UK Government introduced a generous feed-in tariff system responsible for the increasing penetration of solar PV from that year onwards. However, as mentioned in previous blog posts the feed-in tariffs for some renewables have been slashed, with solar power being one of the most heavily affected technologies; small residential scale solar has seen tariff levels drop from 12.47 p/kWh in December 2015 to 4.39 p/kWh, which has already resulted in a huge reduction in new installations. So despite the halfway mark being reached there are challenging times ahead in the next four years if Scotland is to meet its 100% target.

A full breakdown of the latest energy statistics from the Scottish Government can be found at http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0049/00498583.pdf

MPs launch Belfast RE probe

AR pic stormont

The Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee has launched in inquiry into the electricity sector which will examine Belfast’s renewable energy policy.

The inquiry will focus on a number of energy issues including Stormont’s “ambitious” 40% target for renewables by 2020.

This will be carried out, the committee said, “against a backdrop of reductions in the subsidies for onshore wind”. The Northern Ireland RO was closed to onshore wind earlier this month.

A predicted shortfall in generating capacity expected in Northern Ireland in the coming years and high power prices will also be investigated.

Committee char Conservative MP Laurence Robertson said energy prices “remain an ongoing concern”.

“The industry faces several challenges in the coming years, including an ambitious target for renewables, achieving adequate security of supply, and ensuring sufficient interconnector capacity,” he said.

“Our inquiry will examine the reasons for these relatively higher prices, and look to make recommendations that will bring Northern Ireland in line with the GB and Republic of Ireland markets.”