Uncertainty harming growth in the Scottish renewable industry

ERI 29-07-2016
Image from Dorli Photography

The Scottish Affairs Committee (a cross party body which is appointed by the UK parliament to examine the expenditure, administration, and policy in Scotland) found that policy changes from the central UK Government is putting at risk future growth in Scotland’s renewable industry.

In the report published by the group these changes are listed as the early closure of the Renewables Obligation for solar and onshore wind, cutting Feed-in-Tariff support rates, and delaying the next round of Contracts for Difference (CfD). The removal of subsidy for onshore wind was identified as being a particular area of concern. The decision was considered to be troubling, as it was taken without consultation with the industry or Scottish Government.

The report also found lack of clarity about renewables policy has exacerbated long-standing concerns of transmission costs in Scotland. Renewable development, and the largest renewable resources, are often located in the NPA region of Scotland and made up of rural areas or islands. These areas face inadequate grid connections and high transmission charges to reach the urban areas where electricity is most needed. In response to these issues the Committee has called on Ofgem (the government regulator for electricity) to look into levelling connection costs across the UK. In addition it has also called on the UK Government to take action to support the improvement of infrastructure between the Scottish Islands and the mainland.

Since the production of the report the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has been abolished. Among other things DECC was in control of the subsidy schemes for renewable energy. As a result KPMG suggest further delays in the announcement of next the CfD auction round, or announcements about plans for “greater separation” of the System Operator. Of course this will not assist with investor confidence. However, perhaps more worrying is the ideological change the abolition of DECC implies. These concerns are communicated by the chair of the Scottish Affairs Committee, Pete Wishart, who described the decision as showing “a troubling shift in the Government’s priorities”.

A short summary of the report can be found at:

https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/scottish-affairs-committee/news-parliament-2015/renewable-energy-scotland-report-published-16-17/

With the full report being available at:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmscotaf/83/8302.htm

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Action Renewables Energy Association (AREA)

Action Renewables launched Action Renewables Energy Association (AREA) in April 2016.  AREA is the catalyst for transition to a renewable future, and is the sole body representing the entire renewable energy sector in Northern Ireland across all technologies.

Following the re-election of the Conservative Government in May 2015, a series of damaging policy changes, financial restrictions and ongoing budget issues has sent Northern Irelands renewable energy sector into rapid decline.  With the removal of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) along with cuts to Northern Irelands Renewable Obligation (NIRO), it is clear the newly formed Department for Economy (DfE) will have great difficulty financing and implementing replacement incentives post 2017.  The reduction and withdrawal of renewable energy subsidies along with the general lack of support for the renewables sector has placed Northern Ireland’s renewable energy sector in jeopardy.

Action Renewables has responded to this threat with AREA, as a means to support the renewables sector via focused lobbying activities.  Our core aims are to establish a secure renewable energy policy framework in light of the increasing policy vacuum; to protect existing renewable energy investments and support the development of the renewable energy sector.  AREA wants to organise the renewables sector, establish a collective voice and use it to influence policy.

For more information please click here.

MADIE Project training in Finland

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MADIE project organized a joint training event teaching how to become successful consultants for cooperative structures and how to establish new cooperative businesses and cooperation based on lessons learned from selected cases in Europe

The training course was held in Joensuu (Finland), hosted by GREBE partner Luke during mid-June. The aim of the training course was to teach motivated consultants, students, entrepreneurs, cooperative representatives, SME´s and other interested stakeholders how to become successful consultants for cooperative structures. In addition, participants learned new cooperative businesses and cooperation based on lessons learned from selected cases. Various aspects of cooperatives, soft skills and business knowledge were covered during the training such as social skills, management skills, business models, communication skills, Finnish case examples and other essential skills.

In addition, excursions to a well-functioning energy cooperative and a small-scale CHP unit were part of the programme. The first excursion point was the Eno energy cooperative where the participants learned from the experiences of a successful cooperative model in the field of forest energy. The second visit was at the Sirkkala Energy Park where GREBE partner Karelia UAS presented the technology and opportunities of small-scale CHP units based on wood chips. Presentations and lectures given by cooperative and university representatives highlighted the importance of cooperative business models and cooperatives in Finland.

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MADIE – Multifunctional Agriculture as a Driver for Innovation in rural Europe

MADIE is funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union and coordinated by the German  Starkmacher e.V. with partners Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke, Finland), County Governor of Hordaland (Norway), NAK Nonprofit Kft. (Hungary) and Terre di loppiano srl (Italy).

Different models of cooperation, such as cooperatives or associations of local players, have been established in recent years in different regions of the partner countries. They created jobs in agriculture or forestry often in conjunction with new marketing, tourism, nature conservation and nature education projects.

The knowledge on cooperative business models gained during the training week can be applied within the GREBE project and GREBE partner Luke will take relevant models into account within the working package 7 implementation on “Knowledge transfer and business delivery”.

Innovation in the energy sector in Iceland

Þorsteinn Ingi Sigfússon, Professor in Physics, Laureate of the Global Energy Prize and Director of ICI (Innovation Center Iceland) wrote an article on research and Innovation in the energy sector in Iceland and how ICI has been a strong partner in that area. Here you can read a summary from his article.

Iceland is in a unique position in the world due to its variety of renewable energy resources. Large amounts of renewable energy in Iceland is in the form of electricity sold to aluminum factories which therefore leave a relatively low carbon footprint. The demand today is through further innovation in that category.

ICI has for years now been alerted to innovation in the energy utilization sector.  Regarding minimizing carbon footprints, a large chapter was written on analysis leading to the fact that energy spending is extremely high in fisheries.  The carbon footprint reaches 1000 kg for each 1000 kg fish landed. That problem has led to new solutions and licenses in using light instead of nets by trawlers. This solution has resulted in lower use of energy, lower carbon dioxide emissions and less damage to the sea bed. ICI has formed a co-operation around this project with the Marine Research Institute and companies in fish-net production and fisheries.  This co-operation has trusted the foundation of this research even more. Furthermore a company called Optitog Ltd. has been founded around this innovation.

ICI has also been focusing on minimizing multiple kinds of excreta from aluminum industry here in Iceland including ideas and realization on using rest material in mortar, rock wool and related products. The company Gerosion Ltd. run by Sunna Wallevík was founded around this project alongside the SER (Start-Up Energy Reykjavik) project.

Another project that ICI has been working on is how to produce electricity from low temperature-heat that otherwise is lost (waste heat), mainly from power plants.  The source of this waste heat has its physical explanation as a result of the efficiency in producing electricity from geothermal heat.  This is very low and becomes even lower as the heat of the geothermal plant gets higher. In 2015 in the accelerator program Startup Energy, a project around low heat electricity production was developed. The challenge lies mainly in the small size of the power generator which is only 1 Kw but can produce electricity from heat as low as 70 up to 135 °C.

The company XRG Power was founded around this exciting project and is managed by Mjöll Waldorff. Among the owners is VHE in Hafnarfjörður and a Startup Energy group which is led by Landsvirkjun and Arion Bank.

As can be read above various inventions and innovations in the renewable energy sector are in process which is in line with the urgency of minimizing various carbon footprints and other waste.

The new GREBE website is live !

GREBE website 2

The new GREBE project website www.grebeproject.eu has been created by Future Analytics Consulting Ltd. (http://futureanalytics.ie/). The website builds on the branding theme created with the logo, which takes inspiration from the NPA programme and the priority (entrepreneurship) under which GREBE is funded.  The three hexagons in our logo reflect the entrepreneurs networking and sharing ideas, the renewable energy technologies, and the importance of renewable energy in everyday life.

Our website has information about the GREBE project, its aims and objectives, project deliverables, project partners and the NPA Programme.   We also have a section on our project activities and some information about renewable energy.   As the GREBE project progress, we will add more areas to the website and upload reports and guidelines to our ‘Publications’ page.

Visit the site to register your interest in the GREBE project.  If you would like more information on the GREBE project, please contact us at info@grebeproject.eu

Northern Ireland company has a keen interest in the Whisky Industry

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Imagine the delight of our Fermanagh & Omagh District Council partner to find a link between Fermanagh and the rich tradition of Scotch Whisky.

Our recent Partner meeting was hosted by University of Highlands and Islands and we were based in Inverness for a few days. Following two days of intense meetings, we escaped to the region for a few very interesting sites visits.  Examples of small scale renewable energy projects, including trips to a community owned wind energy turbine, a small distillery which aims to be the first community owned distillery relaunching an ancient whisky and a locally produced gin, all utilising green energy and a visit to a local brewery specialising in organic beers again produced using renewable energy sources.

Our last site visit was to the Tomatin Distillery, which in 2013 became the first Scottish distillery to install an environmentally efficient wood pellet fuelled steam boiler which is used in their production process.  The plant consists of a vertical shell nd tube boiler with a fixed grate that is coupled to twim 100m3 pellet silos with integrated loading , feeding and metering.  Fuelled by locally produced wood pellets, from the Balcas plant at Invergordon, this 4MW biomass system boiler solution has largely replaced their heavy fuel oil usage, significantly reducing the carbon emissions for this traditional distillery set in the heart of the Scottish Highlands.  This is in line with the Scottish Whisky Association’s industry-wide targets with the stated aim that by 2020, 20% of energy requirements will be derived from non-fossil fuels, rising to 80% by 2050.

We are very excited by the prospect of introducing our international partners to the home of Balcas at Ballycassidy on the outskirts of Enniskillen when we host the partner meeting in late 2017.

PV considered feasible at farm-scale in Finland

 

Karelia UAS 07-07-2016

A dairy farm located in Kitee, North Karelia, invested in 22+11 kWp photovoltaic system in June 2014. The system has been now operating two years and the experience has been positive. The annual production of 30 000 kWh is about 25% of the overall electricity consumption.

The PV investments have gained considerable interest among local farmers who often have the annual electricity consumption between 50 000 to 150 000 kWh, some even 350 000 kWh. Electricity consumption of cooling the milk down to 4 °C, as well as effective air-conditioning, require significant amount of electricity. On the other hand, farms usually have suitable sunny fields and roof surface areas for PV plants.

The local company, Mirotex ltd. has established system in Kitee together with technology supplier Green Energy Finland – the estimated payback times is below 8-9 years with 30% investment support. The PV plant was provided as a turnkey solution.

The farmer owning the system is very happy for his decision and emphasizes the benefits of having a local supplier and thus the service and maintenance easily available.

The established farm-scale plants have received considerable attention – new investments are planned and decided in other farms, housing associations and in industry/commerce. The Finnish GREBE partner, Karelia UAS, invests in demonstration PV plant.The investment is part of the Sirkkala Energy Park and will provide open-access information for all interested stakeholders.

More information available at: Green Energy Finland, Mirotex Oy.