BREXIT – A brief view of some of the energy implications of the UK voting to leave the European Union

BREXIT

The result of the UK referendum over EU membership has potentially huge implications for renewable energy. Perhaps the most significant of these is the UK may no longer be in the EU Internal Energy Market (IEM).

Completion of the EU’s internal market requires the removal of obstacles and trade barriers; the approximation of tax and pricing policies and measures in respect of norms and standards; and environmental and safety regulations. The objective of these is to help create a functioning market with fair access and a high level of consumer protection as well as adequate levels of interconnection and generation capacity. The IEM has led to the development of interconnections, to help reduce isolation of Member States from the European gas and electricity grids. Being part of energy union would have provided a huge market for UK renewables, such as its growing offshore wind fleet. Furthermore, it would have benefited energy security as renewable generation increases its overall share in the grid, through smoothing of generation variability.

The National Grid are certainly fearful of an exit from the IEM, with a spokeswoman saying: “It is vital the UK retains access to the IEM, which provides stability for energy companies and helps keep household bills down…UK energy security depends on gas and electricity from the IEM and it is essential therefore that we take no risks with that. The issue of energy needs to be treated with the highest importance by the government as the negotiations on Britain’s exit begin.”

Key players and commenters in the sector are almost unanimously giving a negative outlook as a result of the leave vote. These include factors such as higher costs, consumer impacts and a likely reduction in funding of scientific research; but the result is perhaps best summed up by Professor Rob Gross, of Imperial College, who said: “victory for leave creates uncertainty, risks instability, weakens the UK’s negotiating position and, at least in the short term, discourages investment.”  The lack of stability and certainty will not only impact renewables but other low carbon energy projects; for example, the scraping of the controversial proposed nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point (which was to be built by the French company EDF) seems a likely outcome of the referendum.

It is clear that energy policy needs to be a priority for the new government, to give reassurance to the industry. However, even if it does become a priority it would seem optimistic not to view the vote to leave the EU as negative for the UK energy system and low carbon energy in particular.

Sources:

Quotes are taken from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jun/28/leave-vote-makes-uks-transition-to-clean-energy-harder-say-experts

For background information on the IEM http://www.europarl.europa.eu/ftu/pdf/en/FTU_5.7.2.pdf

Brash Chip processing event in Northern Ireland

AR 27-06-2016

A brash chipping demonstration was recently held at Shanes Castle Estate, Co. Antrim. Shanes Castle is a working Estate consisting of about 800 acres of farmland and about 1000 acres of woodland.

The event was organised by Biomass Energy Northern Ireland (BENI) and one of its members from the local area, Glendale Tree services, Randalstown. The event was held for anyone actively involved or interested in the biomass sector, showcasing a very informative day and a great networking opportunity for those involved within the sector. The demonstration covered all aspects of chipping, from selecting the feedstock at Shane’s castle to its storage on the drying floors at the local Glendale Tree services site. Glendale Tree Services are a very local orientated company, actively working with schools and the community on simple environmental projects when the opportunity arises.

Attendees were also given the opportunity to visit Shanes Castle onsite renewable technology, the hydro-electrical system.  Originally installed in 1905 to provide power to the house and small buildings, it has now been refurbishment and recommissioned to provide green energy.  At present, the Hydro generates enough power to provide electricity to about 300 households and therefore save about 900 tonnes of CO2 per year. (Shanes Castle website http://www.shanescastle.com/)

“How to provide bioenergy in the Nordic and Baltic regions? Wood is the future!” – ENERWOODS

LUKE image 23-06-2016

The joint Nordic-Baltic collaborative research project ENERWOODS (wood based energy systems from Nordic and Baltic forests) has now concluded after four years of research and outreach. The project results clearly demonstrate both the leading role of forests and forestry in today’s renewable energy systems, and the large and often overlooked potential for further expanding the supply of wood and woody biomass – both in the short run, but particularly when employing a scope of 2050 and beyond.

It is expected that a 50-100 percent increase of forest productivity at the stand scale is possible. This is a conservative estimate and is viewed relative to today’s most common forest types, and in a sustainable forest management context.

The ENERWOODS project included partners from Sweden, Finland, Norway, Latvia, Estonia and Denmark. The results and conclusions apply to these “ENERWOODS-countries”.

GREBE partner Luke (Natural Resources Institute Finland) had the lead on the Work Package 2 – Forestry logistics. WP2 focused on wood procurement principles and systems optimized towards much higher woody biomass production, long distance transportation and precision supply.

How to provide bioenergy in the Nordic and Baltic regions? Wood is the future!

Why:

  • Wood and woody biomass is already the most important source of bioenergy in the Nordic and Baltic region.
  • Harvesting low-grade wood material can foster an increased biofuel supply in the coming decades.
  • Forests can become more productive, and adaptive to climate change by using well-known silvicultural measures
  • Forests can thereby contribute much more to a sustainable development of our societies towards carbon neutrality by 2050

How:

  • by genetic improvement, introduction of non-native tree species, fast growing nurse trees, fertilization as well as afforestation.

Utilisation and implementation depend on policies and regulations as well as public perceptions of nature conservation, biodiversity, recreation, game management, ground water etc. Diverging interests related to forestry and conservation can be aligned.

The large forest areas and the well-established forest management, forest industry and infrastructure in the Nordic and Baltic regions makes these regions well prepared along all of the value chains to implement the more intensive management if confidence in the profitability can be justified.

Woody biomass is already the largest contributor to our renewable energy systems. An increase of this component is likely to need relatively small additional investments to provide a high impact compared to other alternatives in the renewable energy systems.

Measures needed to reach the potentials of forests and forest management

The region is already in the frontline of replacing fossil energy with renewables. Currently renewables provide 46 percent of the total energy consumed, which is far more than the average EU target of 20 percent by 2020. Bioenergy and waste account for 65 – 97 percent of the renewable energy in Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Estonia and Latvia. Forestry products are the dominant fraction of the bioenergy supply. Unfortunately, statistics do not distinguish between biomass and waste nor the various sources of biomass (forestry, farming, peat etc.).

Logistics

ENERWOODS results indicate that modern logistic systems should be based on larger trucks than now, in addition to the trains and ships that generally are recognized at the most cost and climate efficient means for transportation whenever feasible.

Some of the measures mentioned can be implemented with short notice (fertilization and afforestation). A common rotation length in the region is now typically 70 years – longer under colder climate and shorter under warmer climate, and very much depending on e.g. other site conditions and species. Consequently, a full implementation will take longer than the 70 years.

The ENERWOODS project results can be relevant and find implementation possibilities also in the Northern Periphery regions and GREBE partner countries.

The complete ENERWOODS executive summary can be found through the following link: http://enerwoods.ku.dk/boxes/recommended-reading/ENERWOODS_Executive_summary_v._3.pdf

Startup Energy Reykjavík 2016 open for applications

ICI 20-06-2016

Startup Energy Reykjavík 2016 are now accepting applications. Seven teams will be chosen into their accelerator to develop their startups. 

The need for innovative energy solutions is urgent now more than ever and therefore they challenge individuals and companies who have innovative energy related business ideas to take part in this accelerator.

‘Startup Energy Reykjavík’ is an accelerator program founded by Innovation Center Iceland, Landsvirkjun, Arion banki and GEORG in December 2013. The program is facilitated by Icelandic Startups and Iceland Geothermal on which the focus is on energy and energy related startups. The seven teams that are chosen receive 5 million ISK in capital stock and on 10 weeks they will work on their idea under support from 60 specialized mentors. At the end of the work period each team will present their idea.

The startups receive mentorship from successful entrepreneurs, experienced investors, industry experts and connectors who assist them strategize, prioritize, and expand their networks. Mentors will be visiting teams nearly every day of the program, debating and helping the startups.

Innovation Center Iceland will provide 10 mentors in this program and the General Director of the institute Þorsteinn Ingi Sigfússon is one of them.

Applications are accepted through F65.

GREBE Project meets in Inverness

The GREBE Project met in Scotland last week for their third project meeting.  As part of the meeting, GREBE met with another NPA funded project ‘FREED’ on Monday 5th June to discuss synergies between the two projects.  We then had two days for meetings to discuss the project activities and the reports on policy initiatives, funding mechanisms and climatic challenges of the NPA region which we will publish in September.  On the fourth day of our meeting, our Scottish partner, the Environmental Research Institute (ERI) organised site visits to look at renewable energy technologies in use in different areas.

Our first visit was to Dingwall Wind Co-Op http://dingwallwind.org.uk/.  The Dingwall Wind Co-op owns and runs a 250kW wind turbine just above Dingwall in Ross-shire.  The turbine is the first 100% co-operatively owned wind development in Scotland. The co-op was launched in September 2013 and the turbine was commissioned on the 16th of June 2014.  There are 179 members of the co-op, 90% of whom are from the local area. The co-op will contribute to a community fund estimated at between £2000 and £8000/year. Members of the co-op receive a good return on their investment and EIS tax relief. The landowners, who originated the project, receive a rental payment for use of their land.

Dingwall Co-op

Our next visit to John McKenzie at Scroggie Farm http://flyingfarmer.co/john-mckenzie/green-energy.  Using his own farm as a starting point, in 2009 John took his various experiences, particularly those from visiting the remote islands of Scotland, and embarked on a number of projects to promote local energy production and saving. The result is a farm that harnesses the wind, rain and sun for energy production.  The systems at the farm include Wind, Hydro(on and off grid), Solar PV, Solar Gain, Solar Thermal, Biomass, Electric Car.  Off-grid hydro equipment supplied by Powerspout Hydro Turbines.

We then visited to Black Isle Brewery http://www.blackislebrewery.com/, which is an organic brewery and use a biomass fed boiler to heat their HLT.

Our last visit of the day was to see a new 4MW biomass steam boiler at Tomatin Distillery http://www.tomatin.com/.  This biomass boiler is fuelled by locally produced wood pellets, provided by Balcas which allows Tomatin to displace the majority of the distillery’s heavy fuel oil and, in doing so, cut its carbon emissions.

 

GREBEs Entrepreneur Enabler Scheme participants selected in Northern Ireland

Mentoring image

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council (FODC) have now selected the 12 participants for the Entrepreneur Enabler Scheme under the GREBE project.  It was interesting and challenging to make the final selection.  FODC are keen to support all those applicants but having had to make a decision, will try and support those not selected in perhaps more appropriate ways.

The process of mentoring involves companies engaging with external experts whose role is to support and challenge the business to address issues which may be adversely affecting their capacity to grow and develop.  The GREBE pilot will work with a range of companies all engaged in a wide variety of activities around renewable energy.  These companies have indicated there is something with which they need specific assistance.

Mentor matching has now complete and we can confirm that first meetings have taken place.  Details of the businesses selected will be published in our next GREBE E-zine which will be published and circulated in August.  After this, we will focus on one company at a time and write summary case studies to demonstrate how the support measures are working for the businesses, as the project moves forward.  These will also be published on our social media platforms.

Over the next number of months, we will be working with these businesses to address some of the challenges that face entrepreneurs working in the renewable energy sector.  The inputs and outputs from this engagement will provide an exemplar of how businesses operating in this sector can be best assisted to operate.

The pilot will then be rolled out across the whole GREBE project which covers regions including Finland, Iceland, Norway, Republic of Ireland and Scotland.

The FODC project co-ordinator for GREBE, Una Porteous spoke of how exciting it is to have gotten to this part of the project where mentors are now in position and able to commence work with the businesses.

Sinikasvis – Biomass-based CHP and PV at farm-scale

Sinikasvis image 09-06-2016

Sinikasvis is a limited partnership located in Sukeva, Northern Savo. The berry farm has unique energy production system consisting of a biomass –based co-production of heat by Spanner Re2 unit and 15 kW PV system.

The Finnish GREBE partners, LUKE and Karelia UAS, visited Sinikasvis for compiling a case study for the GREBE project on biomass-based CHP. The recently invested system, Spanner Re2 (30 kW for electricity, 80 kW for heat) is the first of a kind in the region, but has number of references around Europe. The energy consumption (140 000 kWh/a) is highest in winter peak times, but also in late summer as berry farm needs energy for freezers and dryers. The woodchips are high quality (below 10% moisture and even-sized) and produced by the farmer form his own forest.

Sinikasvis is part of the E-farm network demonstrating renewable energy solutions in Finland. The farm is also producer of Farmivirta – Farm Power – concept of Oulun Energia, selling renewable electricity produced by micro- and small-scale producers.

The GREBE project will prepare a case study report about the Sinikasvis farm, which will then be available as good example case for biomass-based CHP solution for the Northern Periphery regions and GREBE partner countries.

More information available at: E-Farm (In Finnish); Spanner Re2; Farmivirta