Service users of ARC Healthy Living Centre in Irvinestown benefit from energy efficiency measures

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ARC Healthy Living Centre is a not-for-profit community organisation, governed by a voluntary board of directors and working across one of the most rural parts of the UK. Each week they support families, young people and adults to learn new skills, improve their health and well-being, find employment and develop confidence to achieve their goals and transform their lives. ARC has a long established ethos of inclusion and positive expectation. 

The ARC Healthy Living Centre are delivering needs based services to vulnerable people and are constantly struggling to meet their running costs. They need to maintain constant temperatures in their buildings to suit their service users, primarily babies and young children in the new build and adults with long term conditions in the original build.

Recognising that they had to manage their heat demand into the future, in late 2014 they chose to move to a biomass system, as a long term outcome to reduce their costs and reduce their carbon footprint. The move to renewable energy was based on more than financial assumptions. Their commitment to protecting the environment and to move away from harmful fossil fuels was of key importance. Wood fuel is a ‘low carbon’ fuel that produces a fraction of the emissions of fossil fuels. The critical difference between biomass fuels and fossil fuels is the type of carbon emitted: biomass fuel releases contemporary carbon, whereas fossil fuel releases fossilized carbon. In addition to the environmental reasons, they were a hostage to fluctuating oil prices.  As with most households and businesses locally when oil prices were high they were subject to oil theft.

In February 2015 they went out to tender for suitable installers and in June 2015 had the new system fitted and commissioned. The installation of the biomass boiler was prompted by the introduction of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).  The RHI aimed to encourage organisations to generate heat from renewable technologies. The RHI pays participants of the scheme for generating renewable heat and using it in their buildings and processes. Proving that the ARC met the requirements of the RHI was based on the establishment of facts and evidence, eligible heat output has to be determined and verified. On 31st August 2015 they obtained RHI accreditation.

The RHI on their new system will not cover installation costs for many years. Used ethically and correctly this system does not generate huge financial gains. The buildings have heat management systems and climate controls so therefore cannot be over heated. With the new system they have in fact reduced the heat demand, continued, maintained underfloor heating run from the biomass system has avoided the continual rationing and subsequent boosting that rendered the previous oil system so inefficient, and supplementary heaters are now seldom required. They have welcomed the media and public interest in this story, and ARC is happy to comply with any additional inspection or monitoring that is introduced as a result of the current publicity in around the RHI scheme.

The ARC Healthy Living Centre remains committed to supporting rural people experiencing fuel poverty and is working in partnership with the Northern Ireland Housing Executive in the design of a road map for innovation within the energy sector.  The development of such community energy schemes could lead to: a reduction in fuel poverty, the development of a secure and affordable energy supply for those who may be deemed as vulnerable, improved energy efficiency and ultimately improved physical and social well-being of rural communities.

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Engineer Forum (Inssiforum) 2017 in Lahti, Finland

Karelia UAS 27-03-2017
A vision for development of bioeconomy engineer studies, Tapani Poykky (HAMK)

Lahti University of Applied Sciences organised the Engineer Forum 2017 in March 22nd-23rd at Sibelius Hall, Congress and Concert Centre. The annual event of engineer education organisations, engineers, industry and other stakeholder partners is this year among official Finland 100 year events.

The GREBE partner, Karelia UAS was responsible for organising the bioeconomy themed parallel session at the event. The session had focus on the impacts of the bioeconomy and bioenergy at the regional and local economy, and training and expertise development opportunities. About 30 attendants in the session discussed on the ways to promote bioenergy at the local level – topic introduced by the Karelia UAS lecturer and GREBE partner Lasse Okkonen and Admin Manager Urpo Hassinen from the Eno Energy Cooperative.

The latest development of the bioeconomy specialization studies was presented by Tapani Pöykkö, ‎Director of Regional Development in Bioeconomy and Natural Resources at Häme University of Applied Sciences, HAMK.  The approach he presented for the Bioeconomy Engineer studies was multi-disciplinary and knowledge-based. The open UAS studies in bioeconomy were presented by lecturer Anne Poutiainen, Karelia UAS, followed by engineer student Katja Keronen describing her expectations for future career in this field.

Green Business Workshop in Galway (20th April 2017)

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Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology (GMIT) are hosting a Green Business Workshop on Thursday 20th April 2017 in GMIT Innovation Hub Boardroom.

This full-day workshop is suitable for individuals who have an idea for a sustainable green technology start-up and for existing SMEs who are interested in developing new sustainable products or services.

The workshop will be presented by a Climate Nation Entrepreneur in Residence, Ron Immink, and is funded by Sustainable Nation Ireland.  Sustainable Nation Ireland as part of their 2 degrees platform want to highlight this as a business opportunity and the aim is to increase the awareness of the opportunities in climate change and tackle climate change through entrepreneurship.

The 2oCamp is for individuals and companies that have an idea and want to explore their idea in more detail. Over a one day workshop (10:00-16:00), participants get the tools to assess their idea, develop the idea further and get the beginning of a pitch deck.

Should participant want to take the idea further, they can apply for the Climatelaunchpad competition, where they have an opportunity to develop the business further and compete with 30 European counties. The top 3 finalist will represent Ireland at the finals in Cyprus this year.

Further information and registration can be found on the Sustainable Nation website: http://sustainablenation.ie/blog/tackling-climate-change-through-entrepreneurship-join-our-2camp/

GREBE identifies technologies which can be transferred from areas of best practice to areas where renewable energy uptake is low

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The Northern Periphery & Arctic (NPA) Programme area is undoubtedly rich in many renewable energy resources. However the form and extent of these resources vary considerably throughout the region. While these differences may be clear at national levels they also exist at more local levels as well and, as a result, areas within the NPA region will have very different technological requirements for the effective utilisation of renewable energy resources.  The aim of Work Package 5 is to link the appropriate renewable energy technologies to the available resources and corresponding demand, for every partner region participating in the GREBE.  This work package is led by Scotlands Environmental Research Institute (ERI), which is part of the University of Highlands & Islands.

The first step towards successful achievement of the objective was the 5.1 “Report identifying technologies which can be transferred from areas of best practice to areas where renewable energy uptake is low”.  This report lays the foundation for linking the appropriate renewable energy (RE) technology to the specific locality, through careful analysis of the input provided by partner regions, together with, identification of similarities and transferable solutions from one partner to another.

The main aim of this report is to inform the other activities in this work package by identifying key areas and technologies with the potential to generate new business models, in areas where renewable energy is less developed.    The report wishes to establish transferability of renewable energy technologies from areas of best practice to areas where RE uptake is low.  In order to ensure the appropriate level of coverage across all relevant technologies and key areas, all partners provided input for their specific region regarding:

  • Areas where non-renewable resources are meeting energy requirements, or where emerging businesses require new energy sources and are considering fossil fuel based energy systems.
  • Relevant Renewable Energy (RE) technologies and renewable integration enabling technologies relevant to the region, including the corresponding risk and market penetration levels.

Areas were separated in three different clusters – sectors, industries and geographic areas. As anticipated, there were recurrent key areas in the feedback from the partners across the NPA Region. The commonalities across the feedback from all partners, substantiates the fact that despite the geographical differences, the NPA region is facing similar challenges, which can be best overcome and realised by transnational cooperation. After a careful review of the individual partner feedback, recurrent areas across regions were pinpointed.  This generated a set of preliminary findings on transferable solutions from partners in which, areas of best practice integration of renewables where identified, to similar areas in other partner regions, where the uptake of renewables is low.

The second objective of the report was to identify the relevant RE technologies and renewable integration enabling technologies applicable to every partner region, including the equivalent risk and market penetration levels. A similar approach, as with the areas, was taken.  A review of the available technologies (the corresponding market penetration and risk) was undertaken, for every partner, individually. This led to the assembly of preliminary findings on RE technology transferable solutions, from regions where a given RE technology has high market penetration and low risk, to regions, where the same RE technology has low market penetration and high risk.  An in-depth analysis of the examined RE technologies, will be presented in our next report ‘A Collection of Case Studies across partner regions, accompanied by technology videos and advice notes’.

The finding of the report can be found on the Project GREBE website (http://grebeproject.eu/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/GREBE-Report-identifying-transferable-renewable-energy-technologies-February-2017.pdf )

The completion of the objectives set in the report, assist us in defining the parameters, technologies, areas and demand, which are all incorporated in the final product of Work Package 5 – the Renewable Energy Resource assessment (RERA) Toolkit.

GREBE Policy Workshops in 2017

Finland Policy workshop
Michael Doran of Action Renewables

Action Renewables is the lead partner for Work Package 3 on Policy and Funding Mechanisms, within the GREBE project.   Part of this work package is to organise policy workshops in each partner region. To date Action Renewables has participated in five policy workshops.  Since the start of 2017, there have been three workshops in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Finland.  The purpose of these workshops is to involve and support stakeholders within the renewable energy sector.

During the workshops we discuss the advantages / disadvantages of local policies for that area and discuss how they can be improved to help the economy. The policy workshops will involve representatives of relevant bodies and Government departments that set the renewable energy policy agendas.  Each policy workshop has been different.  The reason for this, the conditions within each country are different and they are different policies.  All of the policy workshops were chaired by Michael Doran and Mark Corrigan of Action Renewables.   Our Norwegian partner Narvik Science Park which hold a policy workshop in April and it is our intention all will be completed before June 2017. We will then have a list of potential new policy mechanisms which will support different partner regions.

Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland policy workshop was hosted by South West College at their Dungannon campus on the 11th January.   For this workshop we had 10 representatives, who came from different sectors throughout Northern Ireland, including the Department of Environment, Invest NI, Fermanagh Omagh District Council, Fermanagh Enterprise and the Ulster Farmers Union.

This policy workshop focussed on the renewable energy industry in Northern Ireland and the lack of new policy development, and how this will have an impact on the economy.  Northern Ireland will have no policy supports for the sector after the 31st of March 2017.

Scotland

Action Renewables chaired the Scotland policy workshop on the 26th January.  This workshop was organised by the University of Highlands & Islands and was held in Inverness.   For this policy workshop, we had the privilege of four guest speakers

  • HWenergy provided an “Overview of current renewable energy policies and constraints”,
  • Scottish Enterprise on “The solutions that exist within Highland & Island Enterprise and Scottish Enterprise”,
  • Local Energy Scotland, on “Community participation in RE” and
  • Community Energy Scotland on “Communities constrained by the existing policies”

Scotland are very advanced on policies that support the renewable energy sector.  To date Scotland have 18 policy mechanisms, which support the sector and is a popular area for wind and hydro.  Many of their support mechanisms are for SMEs looking to enter the renewable energy industry.

Finland

Finlands policy workshop took place in Joensuu on the 9th February.   Finland is mainly focused on its forestry sector, so therefore biomass is their main focus.  At the policy workshop we had 12 participants from a variety of different sectors. We also had the honour of the following guest speakers:

  • Regional Council of North Karelia – Presenter Anniina Kontiokorpi outlined how they are preparing an implementation plan (roadmap) for North Karelia to achieve ambitious aims established in their Climate and Energy Program.
  • Mayor Asko Saatsi from the City of Nurmes – In Nurmes, bioenergy projects (bio refineries) are essential part of local development strategy.
  • Mika Juvonen, CEO/Bio10 Ltd. – Mika Juvonen has established organic waste treatment/biogas plant in Kitee.  He has been actively informing policies and been able to reduce barriers identified in sector.

Finland – probably the most sustainable forest bioeconomy in the world

LUKE 13-03-2017
Photo: Erkki Oksanen

“You probably know already that 12 percent of Finnish forest area is today protected by environmental and ecological reasons. But did you know that forestry has brought to Finland €229 billion export revenues since 1995? You know that we have such a strong populations of moose, bear, and wolf that we need carefully to hunt them in order to maintain the balance and harmony between their prey and people living in forests.

But did you know, that since year 2000, timber sales have brought €24 billion of revenues for ordinary private citizens, who owns over 60% of all Finnish forests. Every fifth Finn owns forest area or has forest owner in his/her family, which spreads the income nicely to remarkable number of ordinary people throughout the country. Forestry also offers numerous working opportunities for people living in rural areas; this has also been always an important part of social sustainability.

Despite of the remarkable economic impact of forest industry and intensive wood use, we have more trees in our forest than ever before.

If you have been in Finland, you know that we have a lot of forests and trees. But did you know that despite of the remarkable economic impact of forest industry and intensive wood use, we have more trees in our forest than ever before. Nowadays there are about 80 billion trees and both the number of trees and total volume of forests are growing even if we increase our annual use of forests from the current level. This increased growth of forest means more carbon from air bound into trees and into the forest products replacing fossil based materials. Good for climate and climate targets.

You may know that we did large clear-cuttings in 1950’s and 1960´s when we were building the basis of our society. At that time we introduced intensive forest management practices based on monocultures and large units. But did you know that those large clearcuttings are now nice mixed-species forests again, our forest management is certified and biodiversity has been promoted for decades by introducing more diverse harvesting.

If you know some other country, in which renewable forest resource has equal importance for the economy and which has done things better than we have, please, bring it in! We want to benchmark it and to be better in the future.

Forests are tremendous source of sustainable welfare and wellness and we want to keep it that way – forever. (…)” (Luke Blog Posts).

The original blog post can be found from the blog section of GREBE partner Luke under: https://www.luke.fi/blogi/finland-probably-the-most-sustainable-forest-bioeconomy-in-the-world/

Landsvirkjun sees potentials in Windmill Park in Iceland

Iceland wind

On Landsvirkjun’s (The National Power Company of Iceland) promotional meeting they announced their will to develop further ideas about founding windmill parks in Iceland. Althingi (The National Parliament) has one area for those parks on a waiting list within a Master Plan for Nature Protection and Energy Utilization which was accepted 14th of January 2013. Another area, Blönd­u­lund­ur is again on a utilization list within the Master Plan mentioned above.

Hörður Arnarson the CEO of Landsvirkjun is of the opinion that electricity from wind could easily become the third electricity source that adds to hydro and geothermal heat. He claims that on Iceland the conditions for utilizing wind is in highest category worldwide when it comes to utilizing each windmill. Today the utilizing rate is 50% in Iceland as for only 28% globally.

Furthermore Hörður states production price is decreasing and costs parallel to geothermal heat.

As mentioned above there are certain hindrance when it comes to places. Blöndulundur for example has negative aspects as the transport route of power therefrom is quite limited and adding the third power plant there would call for further reinforcement of the transport route.

Great contribution to the climate issues

Hörður would be interested in installing 50 windmill park in Iceland with the power of 10-20 Megawatt each. The big issue today is the visual part according to Hörður. Both windmills and power lines are more visual than for example Hydro Power plants which are more adapted to nature.

Finally, Hörður talks about the future in solar and wind power. Both of these sources of power is well applicable today as the technique has gone through huge development as can be seen in many places globally, where these power sources are the most inexpensive ones.

Derived from mbl.is 7th march 2017

http://www.mbl.is/vidskipti/frettir/2017/03/01/landsvirkjun_horfir_enn_til_vindorku/