Things that go BUMP in the Night

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Signs in a number of local towns and villages have warned of parking restrictions applicable through the night over the last 8 weeks, with warnings of dire consequences should they be ignored.  This all led to a heightened sense of anticipation of what was about to be moving through our region during the wee small hours.

Residents in the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council area have seen a number of very large vehicles transiting through the area over the last number of weeks.  These large transporters have been delivering large sections of wind turbines to a site at the Ora More windfarm in Boho.  Travelling at night in order to minimise disruption to local traffic and residents, these vehicles have become something of a local attraction in their own right, with many postings on social media from people fascinated by the logistics and challenges of making these plans come to fruition.

One local photographer has captured a number of still and moving images of this nocturnal activity which have attracted significant levels of interest with local people.

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When fully functioning, this wind farm will produce sufficient electricity to supply somewhere in the region of 13,000 homes.  In the context of our region, this is not an insignificant contribution to the local offering in terms of Renewable Energy.  This development has at least put Renewable Energy activity on the agenda for discussion in the region……………and that can only be a good thing.

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Photographs Courtesy of Mr Roy Crawford, Enniskillen

New energy and climate technology in Norway

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New technology in general, and energy and climate technology in the industry in particular, has been subjects of increased focus for the Norwegian Energy Department and ENOVA in 2015. The goal of the technology projects is to harvest experience that will contribute to expertise development, innovation and spread of the technology – both nationally and internationally. ENOVA’s role is allowing new technologies to be tested in the market, and then the market can determine the winners. The GREBE-Project would follow the development and results of this programme closely.

ENOVA was established in 2001 in order to drive forward the changeover to more environmentally friendly consumption and generation of energy in Norway. ENOVA promote more efficient energy consumption and increased production of ‘new’ renewable energy via targeted programmes and support schemes.  A number of energy and climate and projects received support in 2015.

Technology projects often have relatively modest energy results compared with the support they receive. Untested and immature technology will usually be significantly more expensive than standard solutions. The support need will therefore also be higher than for projects based on well-tested technology. The total, direct energy result for 2015 is thus modest compared with the support of NOK, but these projects are expected to result in long-term ripple effects and positive effects for the climate.

Selection of the 10 largest projects within energy and climate technology 2015:

  • Wave4power AS – Full scale demonstartion of 100kW wave power buoy
  • Agder Energi Vannkraft AS – Small scale power turbine
  • Kildal Kraft AS – Mini power station installed in container
  • Lyse Elnett AS – Grid technology – reduction of grid loss
  • NEL Fuel Norway AS – Energy efficient hydrogen filling station
  • Eidsvik Offshore ASA – Installation of energy system (battery) in supply vessels.
  • Glencore Nikkelverk AS – One-stage electrowinning process
  • Arba Follum AS – Production of bio-gas
  • Tizir Titanum AS – Verification of new furnace technology
  • Posten Norge AS – Low-energy logistics building based on RE

Development and introduction of New energy and climate technology in the market  – in 2015 a total of 54 projects were granted funding commitments from ENOVA.  Overall, this amounted to NOK 1,4 billion.

Climate Agreement in the Storting in 2012 

The development of new energy and climate technology is very important in order to solve the global climate challenges. However, these new technologies must reach the market in order to have the desired impact.

In the Climate Agreement in the Storting in 2012 – the Storting look upon the primary goal of investment in new energy and climate technology as investments that should contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and support the development of restructuring energy end-use and energy production in the long term by developing and utilizing technologies and new solutions – that can contribute to this.

With its capital base and proximity to the market – they saw ENOVA as a instrument to bring technology initatives from the pilot phase and over to market introduction.

From 2012 ENOVA has the responsibility for management of the Energy fund. The Energy fund is the instrument that the Stortinget suggested as a solution for getting ideas and pilot projects on their way to market.

From the pilot phase – to market

The way from the pilot phase to the market – is a critical phase for the projects, where they will demonstrate to the market that the technology functions under normal conditions. This is also a capital intensive phase. When ENOVA awards support to technology projects, this is with the expectation that many of them will be successful, but not all.

Making it through the critical introduction phase is no guarantee for success in the market. Some technologies succeed and gain a foothold which can be built upon. However, for many technologies, the first encounter with the market will reveal a need to test new approaches and concepts, which may entail having to take one or more steps backwards in the innovation chain. Other technologies are weighed and found wanting in the competition with other technological solutions.

Forest biomass, carbon neutrality and climate change mitigation

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A new report on “Forest biomass, carbon neutrality and climate change mitigation” has been recently published by the European Forest Institute (EFI) with involvement of the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) within EFI´s “From Science to Policy” series.

“World leaders finalized a historic global agreement to combat climate change in Paris in December 2015. They agreed on the need for global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to peak as soon as possible; to achieve GHG neutrality in the second half of this century; and to hold global warming well below 2°C relative to pre-industrial levels.”

“A key issue in the debate about the climate impacts of bioenergy is the question of ‘carbon neutrality’: bioenergy systems can influence the cycling of biogenic carbon between the biosphere and atmosphere, but studies sometimes disregard this when estimating GHG balances. In other words they assume that bioenergy systems can be considered neutral in regard to the biosphere-atmosphere CO2 flows.”

“This report provides insights into the current scientific debate on forest biomass, carbon neutrality and climate change mitigation. Its objective is to provide a balanced and policy-relevant synthesis on the issue, taking into account EU and global perspectives. Other societal objectives and interests are briefly touched upon but the focus is on climate change mitigation.”

The link to the series on EFI pages can be found here: http://www.efi.int/portal/policy_advice/publications/from_science_to_policy/fstp3/

Irish Bioenergy Associations Study Tour to Denmark featured in the Irish Farmers Journal

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In September GREBE Project Coordinator Pauline Leonard, participated in a Study Tour to Denmark with the Irish Bioenergy Association who are an Associated Partner in the GREBE project.  Other participants included representatives 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.

Donal Magnier from the Irish Farmers Journal was part of the group and wrote an article in the papers forestry section with details of the groups meeting with the State of Green, who outlined the vision of the Danish Government and renewable energy stakeholders, and details of the site visits undertaken by the group.  Donal also explored what Ireland can learn from the Danes Danes in renewable energy development.

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Further information on this can be found on the Irish Farmers Journal website http://www.farmersjournal.ie/denmarks-vision-for-a-green-economy-by-2050-229556

Ireland rejects 125MW Maighne – Element Power’s 47-turbine plan in Kildare and Meath

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Element Power has been refused permission to build its up to 125MW Maighne wind farm in Ireland.  National planning authority An Bord Pleanala (ABP) has ruled against the developer’s 47-turbine project in Kildare and Meath.

Its officials said allowing permission would be “premature” in the absence of “any national wind energy strategy”.  ABP also said the “widely dispersed cluster-based layout” would have an “inevitable adverse” impact including a “disproportionately large visual envelope”.

Element Power initially lodged the plans in April last year. It had hoped to build turbines with 169 metre tip heights.   ABP also shot down the developer’s proposals for an up to 120MW Emlagh wind farm in Meath earlier this year.

Finnish Forest Sector Economic Outlook, released by Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke)

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The Finnish forest industry’s production and export volumes, except for paper, will increase over last year’s. Demand is highest for sawnwood, pulp and cardboard. According to Finnish Forest Sector Economic Outlook, released by Natural Resources Institute Finland, the competition will lead to falls in export prices in all main product groups except plywood this year, but prices will stabilise next year.

The consumption of forest chips is expected to grow to around 8.2 million m3

The low prices of fossil fuels and emissions allowances alongside uncertainties about subsidy policy are holding back investment decisions and curbing growth in forest energy use.

The consumption of forest chips is expected to grow to around 8.2 million m3 (solid volumes) this year, with equal figures forecast for next year. Correspondingly, the average purchase price of forest chips at plants in 2016 and 2017 is expected to remain at almost the same level as in 2015. This year, the production of wood pellets in Finland will remain equal to last year’s level, but will increase by a few percent next year.

Lively timber market with moderate price trends

As the use of timber in the forest industry grows, commercial fellings will rise in Finland this year to 59.5 million m3 and to 61.8 million m3 next year. Roundwood imports will rise slightly this year.

The stumpage prices of spruce sawlogs will rise only slightly this year, as demand for spruce sawnwood is good but export prices are rising only moderately. The increasing use of spruce pulpwood in cardboard manufacturing will raise stump prices slightly. The stumpage prices of other timber assortments will fall this year. Next year, the increase in softwood pulp production will increase demand for pine pulpwood and raise its stump price.

In non-industrial private forestry, gross stumpage earnings will rise this year to around EUR 1.7 billion, and to slightly more next year. The operating profit per hectare of private forests will be EUR 110 in 2016 and EUR 115 in 2017.” (Luke News)

The original news article can be found from the news section of GREBE partner Luke under: https://www.luke.fi/en/news/close-to-record-high-sawnwood-export-volumes/

GREBE Project meets in Iceland

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The fourth partner meeting of GREBE project was held in the third week of September in Ísafjörður Iceland.  Before the actual meeting we had a successful policy meeting in Reykjavík. The policy meeting is part of the GREBE project and have similar meetings been held in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Finland. One of the key objectives is to identify and promote opportunities for policy to provide an effective supporting framework for sustainable renewable energy business.  Current policy framework has been reviewed in each partner region.  Michael Doran director of Action Renewables and partner in GREBE presented the summary report on the meeting in Reykjavík. The report is available in GREBE´s homepage www.grebeproject.eu.

Furthermore, several informative presentations were delivered on Iceland´s policy in renewable energy. Ingvi Már Pálsson, Director of the Department of Energy and industry in the Ministry of Industry and commerce (www.anr.is ), presented government policy in the field of renewable energy in Iceland.  Baldur Pétursson from the National Energy Authority (www.os.is) discussed the regulations and the support system for RE business in Iceland and Jón Björn Skúlason, general manager for Nýorka (www.newenergy.is), looked into challenges with integration of eco-friendly fuels.

After the policy meeting we had several site visits on the way to Ísafjörður. First stop was the Innovation Center Iceland (www.nmi.is) were Kristján Leosson managing director for Materials, Biotechnology and Energy told us about the startup company XRG Power (https://greberenewableenergyblog.wordpress.com/2016/02/01/xrg-power-in-iceland/) and other ongoing projects at his department. We also met HS Orka (www.hsorka.is) were Albert Albertsson the concept creator of the Geothermal Resource park welcomed us. (http://static.bordar.is/audlindagardur/straumakort_en.mp4). Finally we met with Einar Hreinsson specialist at Marine Research Institute which introduced us to prototype of a new fishing gear where light is used as a herding stimulus. This fishing gear has a considerable reduction of towing resistance, compared to conventional trawls and could cut fuel costs per kg fish caught by 40%.