Renewable Energy Technology Development: Short Term Policy Recommendations for Nordic Countries

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There is a clear technological and economical pathway for the Nordic region to push towards a more near carbon-neutral energy system in 2050. The Nordic countries want to send a strong signal to the global community that the ambitious aims of the Paris Climate Agreement are achievable. This is the conclusion from the; Nordic Energy Technology Perspectives Report 2016 – from The International Energy Agency and Nordic Energy Research.

The ambitious pathway outlined by the Nordic countries, who specifically wants to act in four key areas:

  1. Strengthen incentives for investment and innovations in energy technologies.
  2. Boost European cooperation on grid infrastructure and electricity markets.
  3. Reduce process-related emissions in industry
  4. Accelerate transport decarbonisation

 

1.Strengthen incentives for investment and innovation in energy technologies.

The Renewable Energy Policy should accelerate the  roll-out of key flexibility technologies and  incentivise their utilisation for flexibility through market mechanisms and regulation. Markets must also adequately compensate flexibility services such as demand response in industry and  buildings, as well as the flexible operation of small power plants. Information technology (IT) infrastructure (smart meters) and IT platforms (consumer Apps or control systems) will be important  in achieving a rapid penetration of these flexibility services.

2. Boost European cooperation on grid infrastructure and electricity markets.

Coordinated effort to strengthen domestic grids and install new transmission lines is needed to  establish the future Nordic and European electricity system (‘The Green Battery Strategy’).  Regional collaboration on infrastructure planning is needed to ensure optimal investments and avoid bottle-necks in the grid. Coordination among Nordic governments is vital to ensure that policy accelerates  technological and regulatory progress in order to reduce total costs. Cooperation in reforming the common Nordic electricity market to allow greater flexibility and accommodate higher shares of variable renewables will also be important.

3. Reduce process-related emissions in industry.

The Renewable Energy Policy should take steps to ensure long-term competitiveness of Nordic industry while reducing process-related emissions. More variable and potentially higher electricity prices will put additional pressure on energy-intensive industry in the Nordic region, stressing the need to step up low-carbon industrial innovation. Governments should act to reduce the risk of such investment and use public funding to unlock private finance in areas with significant emission reduction potential.

4. Accelerate transport decarbonisation.

Even as Nordic countries pursue different technology strategies in parallel, they should not wait to draw on  the wide range of available policy instruments to stimulate fuel efficiency, low carbon technologies and shifts to more efficient transport modes. Governments should build upon positive experiences with measures such as congestion charging in urban settings, differentiated vehicle registration taxes, bonus-malus regimes, and altered parking fees, while also stepping up investments in infrastructure  for cycling, public transport and rail. Policies should also incentivise modal shifts from road freight to sea and rail, and from cars to public transport and cycling.

Nordic and European collaboration on energy policy can play a role to reach the ambitious aims of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Scottish Government announce ambitious new emissions plans

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Following on from previous world leading climate change targets the Scottish Government has announced dramatic new emissions targets. Having met a 42% reduction target set for 2020 six years early the SNP administration has announced a 66% cut by the year 2020.

The striking new strategy, expected to cost £3bn a year is closely linked to a new renewable energy programme, which will be published later this month.

The draft climate change plan will call for sector specific targets for 2032 including a fully decarbonised electricity sector and a domestic heating sector with 80% of its heat coming from low carbon sources.

The transport sector will be decarbonised with 30% of Scotland’s publicly owned ferries being powered by hybrid engines, 50% of all buses being low carbon and 40% of all new cars and vans sold in Scotland being ultra-low emissions.

Roseanna Cunningham, the Scottish environment secretary has said that the proposals “represent a new level of ambition which will help maintain Scotland’s reputation as a climate leader within the international community”.

Friends of the Earth Scotland chief executive, Richard Dixon, has applauded the governments ambition but has urged the government to go further. He said “It paints a very good vision of what a low-carbon Scotland could look like in 2032 but there are clearly areas where there has been resistance and policies either aren’t going far enough or aren’t credible.”

The IrBEA National Bioenergy Conference – Thursday 9th February 2017

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‘Bioenergy 2017’ – The IrBEA National Bioenergy Conference will be held at the Castleknock Hotel, Dublin on Thursday 9th February.

2017 looks to be a pivotal year for Ireland’s energy policy; the industry expects clarity by then for the roll-out of a Renewable Heat Incentive.  It’s imperative that the Irish Government develops an energy policy that allows for greater growth in the bioenergy sector. This will be under discussion at the conference.

The conference will have a strong line up of speakers, both international and national, presenting industry models, policy perspectives and investment opportunities to stimulate lively discussion and strong media coverage.

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More on what will be discussed at the event can be found on the IrBEA website: http://www.irbea.org/bioenergy-2017-irbea-national-bioenergy-conference/

The worlds hottest borehole is nearly complete

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Icelands Deep Drilling Project (IDDP), was founded in 2000 by a consortium of three Icelandic energy companies, who are now drilling deep into the heart of a volcano in the south-west of Iceland. Iceland, sitting on the boundary between two major tectonic plates, is one of the most volcanically active places in the world. The project is located on the Reykjanes peninsula, where a volcano last erupted 700 years ago.

In a discussion with the BBC on 14th of December 2016, researchers reported that in the next couple of weeks they should reach a depth of 5km, where temperatures are expected to exceed 500C (932F). That is the deepest level of drilling so far in the world.

Asgeir Margeirsson, CEO of the Iceland Deep Drilling Project (IDDP) in his interview with the BBC hopes that this will open new doors for the geothermal industry globally to step into an era of more production.

“That’s the aim – that’s the hope. We have never been this deep before, we have never been into rock this hot before, but we are optimistic.” Said Asgeir Margeirsson.

Harnessing this energy through geothermal technology is already well established in Iceland. In this area at Reykjanes, they typically drill to 2km or 3km depth to harness the steam, to run power plants and produce clean, renewable electricity as explained by Asgeir Margeirsson. They want to see if the resources go deeper than that.

The drilling has now reached nearly 4,500m, and the team expected it to hit its target depth of 5km by the end of the year 2016.

When the drill gets to 5km, the team expects to find molten rock mixed with water. But with the extreme heat and immense pressure found at this depth, the water becomes what is known as “supercritical steam”.

It is neither a liquid nor a gas, but it holds far more energy than either. It is this “supercritical” steam that the team wants to bring back up to the surface to convert into electricity.They believe its special properties mean it could produce up to 10 times as much energy as the steam from conventional geothermal wells. They don’t expect to drill into magma, but are drilling into hot rock which is around 400 to 500C.”

 

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Black basalt rock that has been collected from deep beneath the ground

Mr Margeirsson said that if this works, in the future they would need to drill fewer wells to produce the same amount of energy, meaning they would touch less surface, which means less environmental impact and hopefully lower costs.

“But that is if this works. This is full-scale research and development – we don’t know what the outcome will be.”  And there is a good reason to be cautious. With volcanoes, expect the unexpected.

Prof Freysteinn Sigmundsson, a volcanologist at the University of Iceland, reports that even though Iceland has more than 300 volcanoes, there is still much to learn about them. At the same time he states that this drilling project, however, would give geologists a unique vantage point to see the interior of a volcano.  He emphazises the importance of this project and the possible fundamental discoveries about how volcanoes work, learn about their properties and conditions.

The IDDP team says it is currently “drilling blind”, which means no rocky debris is coming back up to the surface. Instead, it is somehow being absorbed into the surrounding rocks.  Without being able to examine the rock, it means the geologists really are heading into the unknown.  However, with only a few hundred metres to go, they are optimistic that the world’s hottest borehole is now within their sights.

The IDDP project is funded by energy companies (HS Orka, Statoil, Landsvirkjun and Orkuveita Reykjavíkur), Orkustofnun (the National Energy Authority of Iceland), the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP), the National Science Foundation in the US and EU Horizon 2020.

“From resource to sustainable business” Seminar & GREBE Policy Workshop on 09.02.2017 in Joensuu, Finland

The GREBE project is organizing – in cooperation with the IEA Bioenergy Task 43 – the joint seminar “From resource to sustainable business”  and a GREBE Policy Workshop on the 9th of February 2017 in Joensuu, Finland.

 

Key aspects from GREBE Project and IEA Bioenergy Task 43 will be presented and the opportunities from the renewable energy resources and developing a sustainable business from sustainable energy will be elaborated within the joint seminar “From resource to sustainable business”.

The GREBE Policy Workshop will focus on energy policy and promotion of renewable energy. This will examine the current issues from the Finnish and North Karelian point of view and takes place after the seminar in the afternoon of 9th February. The results of the workshop will be utilized in drafting the roadmap towards an oil-free and low-carbon North Karelia 2040.

Alternatively, in parallel to the policy workshop, participants have the opportunity to join an excursion in the Joensuu region visiting the Sirkkala Energy Park and the company Kesla Oyj. The event is co-organized by the GREBE partners Luke and Karelia UAS.

Event page & Registration

More details are available on the here on the event page where you see programme and practical information. The goal of this seminar is to discuss the topics and aims of the “GREBE – Generating Renewable Energy Business Enterprise” and “IEA Bioenergy Task 43”.

You can register here at the latest by 31.01.2017. The seminar participation is free of charge. Registration is mandatory. Maximum number of participants to the event is 60.

We welcome you to join us in Joensuu, Finland.

The GREBE Business Supports Catalogue

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This GREBE Business Supports Catalogue has been developed following a review of Renewable Energy business support funding mechanisms and funding options available to support the development of renewable businesses in the NPA region.

It provides information on the funding mechanisms currently available in the partner regions (Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway and Scotland).  The information will be useful to both funding agencies (e.g. business support agencies and municipalities) and to SMEs giving details of funding options available in their regions.

The main focus is on public body support for renewable businesses but both private sector and social investment options have been included where appropriate. The supports included are for SMEs and Micro businesses but also include options for those SMEs expected to grow rapidly (e.g. High Potential Start Ups).  The business support funding mechanisms considered vary from standard ‘hard’ business support options (e.g. loans and venture capital) to softer supports (e.g. innovation schemes, business partner search supports etc.)

A short introduction on the methods and types of supports in each partner region is provided.  Information for each partner region is it then organised under the following categories:

  • Financial Support (grants, loans, equity investment)
  • Taxation or welfare supports or concessions for businesses
  • Soft supports e.g. mentoring, training, specialist advice, networks
  • Research and Development Supports
  • Social and Community supports (focused on not for profit)
  • Other- e.g. Incubation space or office space etc.

Within each of these categories there is considerable variation in the ways different funding options are implemented and these differences will impact on the success of schemes. We hope that by using this catalogue those who seeking funding and support for renewable businesses will have a clear portfolio of options which are available to them.

In the future the information in this catalogue will be used to create a web based tool allowing users to search for available funding options and to consider different types of funding available in each region.  The catalogues is available on the GREBE project website here

OASIS Plaza scoops a major award at the CEEQUAL 2016 Awards in London

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The OASIS Plaza in Omagh (Omagh Accessible Shared & Inclusive Space) has scooped an Outstanding Achievement Award at the CEEQUAL 2016 Awards held in London on 28-29 November 2016. The OASIS Plaza project beat off stiff competition from several nominated projects to take the outstanding achievement award in the category for ‘Community and Stakeholder Relations’.

The £4.345m project, which was officially opened by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council in June 2015 and was funded through the EU Peace III programme, managed by the Special European Union Programmes Body (SEUPB), was designed by McAdam Design and built by FP McCann Contractors. The Outstanding Achievement Award for Community and Stakeholder Relations recognised the contribution of both the design team and the finished build and in particular the involvement of the local community, school children and companies from the project’s construction to its finishing touches.

CEEQUAL is the evidence-based sustainability assessment, rating and awards scheme for civil engineering, infrastructure, landscaping and public realm projects. It promotes and celebrates high environmental and social performance in the specification, design and construction of civil engineering works. The CEEQUAL Outstanding Achievement Awards recognise and acknowledge projects that demonstrate pinnacle best-practice performance and highlight some of the top sustainability achievements by civil engineering projects in countries around the world.

The Judging Panel described the OASIS project as having a “great concept” with the potential to really make a difference. The Panel Members stated, “This Scheme has made a big statement on how to bring communities together – it is a landmark in the development of community interaction. All sections of the community and stakeholder groups were engaged in all aspects of the project, from development to delivery.”

The OASIS Project includes a riverside pedestrian and cycle path along the banks of the River Strule, a Plaza, a link across the Strule River with a new pedestrian/cycle bridge and an elevated walkway into Omagh town centre. The Project has successfully joined the town up logistically and reduced the need for car travel. It segregates traffic and pedestrians, provides green spaces, and encourages trade in the town.

The aim of the OASIS Project is to enhance the physical and psychological links between disparate communities in Omagh Town. It provides safe, neutral, shared open spaces that increase opportunities for interaction through work and recreation. It reclaimed underused and unwelcome spaces and previously inaccessible lands within the town.

Since its official opening the OASIS Plaza has been the venue for several large-scale events, such as the St Patrick’s Day Festival, the Mid-Summer Carnival, the Halloween event, and other sporting events such as the Irish National Cycling Championships in 2015. Notably the Peace Pledge Project, launched in September 2015, witnessed 46 schools from across the Omagh area, representing primary, post-primary, controlled, maintained, integrated, Irish medium and Special Needs placing 46 stainless steel peace pledge plaques at the Plaza, each bearing a pledge to work towards peace and respect.

Speaking after the Awards Ceremony, the Chairperson of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Mary Garrity said,

“I was absolutely delighted to be a member of the Party representing the Council at the Awards Ceremony in London and to receive the Community and Stakeholder Relations Outstanding Achievement Award was the icing on the cake. Given that the CEEQUAL Awards are recognising projects from around the world, we were delighted that the OASIS Plaza had been shortlisted but to actually be a winner was absolutely amazing and testament to the outstanding work of the collaborative efforts of the Council, the Design Team and the Contractors. I wish to personally thank and congratulate McAdam Design and FP McCann for the sterling work they undertook with the Council to make the OASIS Project an internationally recognised shared space and CEEQUAL Award winner. I would also like to personally thank the Council’s Director of Regeneration and Planning, Ms Alison McCullagh, for her involvement and dedication to the project.”