Solar energy technology demonstration starts in North Karelia

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Choosing the most suitable PV or solar thermal system for you is not always easy.

Karelia UAS has invested in number of different solar PV and thermal technologies. Sirkkala Energy Park will house five different PV panel and inverter combinations, four solar thermal collector types and one PV-T hybrid panel system.

Various different PV technologies are commercially available and the most common and the most promising ones were acquired to Sirkkala Energy Park. Silicon polycrystalline and monocrystalline cells dominate the markets with nearly 90 % market share. Monocrystalline based PV-systems have lower production and investment costs compared to polycrystalline cells, but what they gain in investment costs will be lost in efficiency in most cases. Thin cell PV technologies will be demonstrated in the form of CIGS (Copper Inidium Gallium Selenide) and amorphous silicon. There are also various emerging technologies being researched, but most of them are not yet commercially available.

Various types of PV system architectures and technologies will be demonstrated, including single panel power optimisers, panels in series with maximum power point tracking (MPPT), panels with microinverters and mobile thin cell technologies. Total gross area of installed PV will be 80 m² and total peak power over 11 kW.

Solar thermal collectors are used to produce heat by absorbing sunlight. Two types of main technologies exists; evacuated tube collectors and flat panel collectors. Total of three types of flat panel collectors with different absorber material (copper, aluminium and stainless steel) and one type of evacuated tube collector will be demonstrated. Gross area of solar thermal collectors will be 32 m².

Hybrid PV/Thermal –panels are also demonstrated to assess the feasibility of this technology. Size of the hybrid panel array will be 8 m² with peak power of 1,1 kWp.

According to Project coordinator Mr. Markus Hirvonen, after installation of solar systems the Sirkkala Energy Park will be able to provide unique information on solar energy technologies and the characteristics of each different setup.

“The different solar energy setups provide new information on solar technologies in North Karelian environment and makes it easier for consumers and companies to make good solar PV and thermal investment decisions.

Within the GREBE –project context, Sirkkala Energy Park provides new insights into the market access paths of modern RE solutions, and their business opportunities and challenges.

Sirkkala Energy Park, located in Sirkkala campus of Karelia UAS in Joensuu, is a research, development and education facility of RE technologies. The energy system established in 2015 includes different solar and wood based i.e. a modern small-scale combined heat and power (CHP) -plant fueled with locally produced woodchips.

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The Norwegian Government use public capital to trigger private investment for early stage innovative industry.

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The need for pre-seed funding and Business Angel Network has never been bigger in Norway, as it has become harder for early stage companies to mobilize private investors. The Norwegian Government has now accepted to use public capital to trigger private investment for early stage innovation – by establishing pre-seed funding and Business Angels Network.

The Business Association of Norwegian knowledge and technology based enterprises (Abelia) has for several years argued that the Norwegian Government should establish a new pre-seed scheme to mobilize private capital for early stage innovation. This argument has been supported by the Association for innovation companies in Norway; FIN – and they have together presented a proposal for the Ministry of Trade. The Government has now accepted the proposal – and explain this with the ambition to ensure that entrepreneurial businesses grow faster and succeed internationally at a time when the Norwegian economy need it.

The Ministry of Trade is interested in strengthening the incentives for moving private capital earlier along the startup chain, without generating more bureaucracy. For this reason the organizing of the pre-seed funding is done without establishing new organizations or structures – but by using the public agencies of TTO and incubators (NOK 50 millioner) and (NOK 48 millioner) to private investment fund to start up Business Angel Funding in Norway.

The Business Associations are very happy with this solution and see this as a strategy to make sure the incentives ultimately  benefits the targeted groups of startups. They see activation of private capital as a good thing and that this is the most effective path to get more value out of the significant investments already made in public research and development.

The problem for the startups in the NPA region – is that little of the pre-seed funding goes to Northern Norway, and nothing of the Business Angel funding. This is what we call an Mattheus-effect: They who already has capital funding- would get more, and they without would get nothing (or small amounts).

Is this a policy framework issue – that is similar in the NPA regions – and something that should be highlighted by the GREBE-Project?

The GREBE Project participates in Irish Bioenergy Association Study Tour to Denmark

Pauline Leonard, GREBE Project Coordinator, had a very successful and enjoyable trip to Denmark with GREBEs Associate Partner, the Irish Bioenergy Association.  Representatives participated from a broad range of sectors including Irish biomass boiler manufacturers, Coillte, private forestry and farming interests, pellet producers, representatives from Údarás na Gaeltachta, and other government agencies focusing on building sustainable rural energy projects. 

Brewery Vestfyen was our first site visit, here they have shifted from oil to local biomass sourced from residual wood in the Danish forestry and sawmill sector. 2 boilers running on 700,000 litres of heating oil each year have been replaced with a 40 bar 4MW boiler from Focus BioEnergy running on P45 wood chips since January 2015 with a yearly consumption of 10,000 m3. The brewery has a yearly production of cans and bottles containing beer and soft drinks exceeding 120 million units. Biomass is tipped into two 100 m3 containers and transferred to the boiler by auger. Biomass is sold to the customer by the gigajoule of energy delivered and payback is less than 2 years as a result of a government incentive to encourage the switch to renewables.

In the afternoon we visited the town of Stoholm which has a district heating system common to many small towns (780 houses) we met a company which designs, sells and installs bio-fuel boilers. This particular plant was a 1MW pellet boiler and provided the heating and water for all the houses in the town during the summer months, in the winter months a larger capacity gas boiler kicks in to meet the peak load demand. On Friday we travelled to Sonder Omme District heating plant which provides heating for housing and industry (pop. 1700). It is a fully automated system using woodchip, Anders Hjørnholm from Danstoker brought us around the plant the boilers here was manufactured by his company, he said it was a typical build in Denmark.

We visited a second 5.5MW district heating plant in Grindsted where we were accompanied by Peter Larsen from Justsen who specialise in biomass boiler system installations. Finally last stop was Danstoker fabrication workshop, a large aircraft hangar full of boilers at different stages of construction, ranging from sub 1MW up to 20 MW.

It was a very informative trip and good contacts were made.  It was impressive how Denmark take renewable heat seriously and provides targeted incentives to underpin investor confidence in the sector. It is a model we would like to see here in Ireland. There are so many energy intensive businesses in the Irish food, pharmaceutical and manufacturing sectors who have a global ambition to become carbon neutral through reducing emissions and using resources more efficiently. It is widely recognised that our State and the emerging private forestry biomass resource can play a key role in delivering on this ambitions.

Celtic trio form ocean powerhouse – Countries combine to advance wave and tidal energy technology

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Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland have joined forces to advance the development of ocean energy technology by forming a new collaborative network.

Scottish Enterprise said separate agencies from each of the three countries, including itself, formed the Ocean Power Innovation Network, or OPIN, which is hosting its inaugural meeting in Dublin today.

“The network’s mission is to advance innovation by learning from experts in other industries, to push the boundaries of what’s possible in ocean energy and progress innovative ocean projects in a coordinated way,” Scottish Enterprise said.

Companies with ocean energy projects include OpenHyrdo, which plans to develop a commercial scale 100MW tidal energy array in waters off Northern Ireland’s coast.

The network also hopes to share knowledge with representatives from the oil and gas industry, who are among participants at today’s event.

“The coasts of Ireland and Scotland have an abundant supply of ocean energy,” Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland head of emerging sectors Declan Meally said.

“Pooling resources, knowledge and experience between us and collaborating outside the ocean energy sector means we can bring best practices together and drive development in ocean energy.”

OPIN’s next meetings will be hosted by Northern Ireland and Scotland later in the year, Scottish Enterprise said.

The GREBE Project visits Iceland

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The GREBE project partners will hold their fourth partner meeting in Reykjavik and Isafjordur in Iceland this week.  We have a busy schedule planned with the Western Development Commission (www.wdc.ie) and Innovation Center Iceland (http://www.nmi.is/english) working to co-ordinate the programme to fit in as much as possible.

On Tuesday morning, we’ll hold a Policy Workshop at Innovation Center Icelands offices in Reykjavik, this will be followed by a meeting with XRG Energy http://www.xrgpower.com/, the first part of our partner meeting and a Steering Committee meeting.   Then on Wednesday we have a packed day, with site visits to Auðlindagarður Svartsengi (http://www.resourcepark.is/) and the IDDP project (http://www.landsvirkjun.com/researchdevelopment/research/iddpproject/) as we travel to Isafjordur.

On Thursday and Friday, we will continue our project meeting at the Innovation Center Icelands offices in Isafjordur.

Renewable energy investment support, education and tours on farm scale – the Finnish E-farm® concept

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The Finnish GREBE project partners Luke and Karelia UAS visited two E-farm® destinations provided by the Finnish E-farm® service using renewable energy solutions for energy production on a farm scale.

A perfect example for an E-farm® destination is the Itikan tila farm in the region of Northern Savo in Finland. The farm produces agricultural products, provides cultural and tourist services and has an own energy production on the farm including an own biodiesel production unit, a wind turbine, solar panels and a ground source heat pump.

The E-farm® service includes site visits to so-called “E-farm® destinations”, support services in form of calculations, education and training.  E-farm® offers for instance dedicated courses on biogas and wind energy. Also, E-farm® provides detailed investment calculations and support for farmers planning to invest in renewable energy solutions on their farm. By contacting the coordinator of E-farm®, customers can order visits or tours to any of the destinations in Finland, ask for support or other offered services at one contact point. Also tours to Central Europe can be organized. Companies behind the trademark are Envitecpolis Oy and Savon Siemen Oy.

The concept of combining conventional (farm) business with energy production and tourism has been presented in the Northern Periphery Programme (NPP) area before, the NPP project REMOTE worked with this idea for example. Besides of the availability of sustainable resources, the Northern Periphery area is unique in regards to the high number of remote dwellings in rural areas, the availability of unique cultural experiences and events for tourists. A large share of buildings has either no access to electricity or is dependent on producing energy from fossil fuels. A focus was to provide feasible solutions for renewable energies in remote areas adapted to the scale of sparsely populated areas and communities by providing information, products and services similar to the E-farm® concept especially dedicated for farms and their customers.

E-farm® has a network of farms across Finland coving a wide range of renewable energy solutions including for example wind mills, small scale CHP units from forest chips, biogas, biodiesel, solar panels, hydro power and ground source heat pump.

In addition to energy sales of renewable energy to the market, visits to the farms provide new business opportunities such as additional income to both the farm and the service and increase the awareness and experiences of energy production investments at farms.

More information on the E-farm® destinations and services offered can be found from the webpage (in Finnish): www.efarm.fi

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Iceland Deep Drilling Project (IDDP)

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The Iceland Deep Drilling Project (IDDP) is a long term study of high-temperature hydrothermal systems in Iceland. The IDDP is a collaborative effort by a consortium of three Icelandic power companies  (Hitaveita Sudurnesja (HS) (since 2008: HS Orka hf), Landsvirkjun (LV) and Orkuveita Reykjavíkur (OR)), and Orkustofnun (OS), the National Energy Authority of Iceland. and the Icelandic government, formed to determine if utilizing supercritical geothermal fluids would improve the economics of power productions from geothermal fields.

The IDDP expects to drill and test a series of boreholes that will penetrate supercritical zones believed to be present beneath three currently exploited geothermal fields in Iceland. One has been excecuted and the second will be activated in mid september 2016. A drilling to a depth of about 5 km will be required in order to reach hydrothermal fluids at temperatures ranging from 450°C to ~600°C.

A feasibility study completed in 2003 points at that in comparison to the output from conventional geothermal wells, which are 2.5 km deep, a ten-fold increase in power output per well could result if fluid is produced from reservoirs hotter than 450°C .

A typical 2.5 km-deep geothermal well in Iceland yields power to approximately 5 MWe. Assuming a similar volumetric inflow rate of steam, an IDDP well tapping a supercritical reservoir at temperatures above 450°C and at a pressure of 23-26 MPa may be expected to yield ~50 MWe.

The first IDDP drilling was performed in year 2009 in Krafla. The second drilling is scheduled mid september 2016 at the Reykjanes geothermal field. The aim is to drill 3 km deep. The drill Thor is powered by green energy produced by Reykjanes power plant.

The main benefits from deep geothermal drilling are as here below:

  • Increased power output per well, assumed by an order of magnitude, and production of higher-value, high-pressure, high-temperature steam.
  • Development of an environmentally benign, high-enthalpy energy source below currently producing geothermal fields.
  • Extended lifetime of the exploited geothermal reservoirs and power generation facilities.
  • Re-evaluation of the geothermal resource base.
  • Industrial, educational, and economic spin-off.
  • Knowledge of permeabilities within drillfields below 2 km depth.
  • Knowledge of heat transfer from magma to water.
  • Heat sweeping by injection of water into hot, deep wells.
  • Advances in research on ocean floor hydrothermal systems.

Summarized from the website iddp.is and nea.is