GREBE participates in the Arctic Project Clustering Event in Sweden in May

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The GREBE Project were pleased to be invited to participate in the Arctic Project Clustering Event held in Skellefeå May 10-11th 2017.  This event gathered more than 90 participants from the programme areas of Botnia-Atlantica, Interreg Nord, Northern Periphery and Arctic programme and Kolarctic CBC. The aim of the event was to find synergies between ongoing projects in the different programmes, share good examples and challenges as well as identify future cooperation possibilities.

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The event began with a presentation of Skellefteå held by Helena Renström, Marking Director at Skellefteå municipality, providing insight into the specific areas of interest and growth as well as development potential in Skellefteå.

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Nils Arne Johnsen, Arctic Director at Ramboll, gave an overview of what is meant by the Arctic and the special features and actors of operating in the area. Johnsen concluded that many of the challenges in the Arctic are also provide opportunities for investment and development.

The second day of the event Baiba Liepa, Project Manager at the Interact programme, provided a framework for territorial cooperation, the reasoning behind different programme types and how Interreg programmes and projects connect to overall goals of the European Union.

During the first day plenary session Ole Damsgaard, Head of Secretariat at the Northern Periphery and Arctic programme, presented the Arctic cooperation within which the four programmes come together to share knowledge, organise joint activities and combine resources to obtain greater impact. The second day representatives for all four programmes, Jenny Bergkvist, Programme Director at Botnia-Atlantica, Lena Anttila Programme Director at Interreg Nord, Marjaana Lahdenranta, CBC Expert at Kolarctic CBC and Ole Damsgaard presented the programmes in more detail. Similarities and differences were highlighted together with complementary goals that provide cooperation opportunities for projects implemented in the different programmes. The possibility to apply for financing for clustering projects was also announced by the Northern Periphery and Arctic programme.

The clustering of projects was organised through thematic workshops within E-health, Energy efficiency, Bio-sconomy and Entrepreneurship, to which selected projects and external guests from all four programmes were invited. The aim of the workshops was to present ongoing projects in the different programmes, find synergies and identify knowledge gaps and common interests.

The workshop within E-health was moderated by David Heaney, from Rossal Research & Consultancy. Common themes were connecting health prevention and detection to technology and data collecting as well as receiving input from SME´s in the field.

Michael Jalmby, ESAM, moderated the Energy efficiency workshop in which the importance of energy efficient and sustainable solutions for renovations were discussed together with existing gaps between knowledge and implementation of best practices.

The Bio-economy workshop was moderated by Ian Brannigan from Western Development Commission Ireland and Michael Doran from Action Renewables. Common themes were how to disseminate project results to ensure real impact and developing research findings into marketable solutions for SME´s.

The workshop within Entrepreneurship was moderated by Camilla Sehlin, Incita AB and discussed how to identify different needs of SME´s and deliver the right results as well as ways of bringing different types of companies together.

The workshop discussions were concluded at the end of the event to give insight into the outcomes of the different themes.

During the event a study visit was organised to the innovation house The Great Northern were Phil Hopkin, Business Community Manager, told about the history and ideology behind The Great Northern and how the identity of a region can be utilized in creating new opportunities.

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Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Geopark scoops top sustainable tourism award

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The GREBE Project congratulates the internationally renowned Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark who scooped the Sustainable Tourism award at the Northern Ireland Tourism Awards recently.  The Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopartk is located in Fermanagh & Omagh District Council area.  The awards, which were organised by Tourism NI and hosted at Enniskillen Castle on Thursday 18 May 2017, recognise excellence and innovation within the tourism industry.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, the Council’s Director of Community Health and Leisure, Robert Gibson said:

“I am delighted that Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark has been successful in this category. It is one of the Council’s flagship tourism facilities and this award is an endorsement of the Council’s efforts in managing and developing the UNESCO Global Geopark’s beautiful landscapes with great care and environmental sensitivity, while building a global tourism product that benefits local communities through trade, employment and improving access to the local environment.”

Mr Gibson added:

“the success of the other tourism facilities within the district at the awards is indicative of the superb tourism product on offer here in the Fermanagh and Omagh area.”

The awards ceremony recognised tourism facilities and individuals across 13 different categories. The Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark was one of two category winners from the Fermanagh and Omagh district on the night with Finn Lough Forest Domes securing the Unique Tourism Accommodation award. Other locally based tourism facilities and businesses also enjoyed success at the awards with Belle Isle Castle and Private Island being Highly Commended and National Trust Fermanagh Florencecourt, Fermanagh Self Catering and Erne Water Taxis commended in their respective categories.

For further information on the Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark , please contact Marble Arch Caves Visitor Centre by telephone on 028 6634 8855 or visit Marble Arch Caves UNESCO Global Geopark.

Renewable energy demonstration network to be established in North Karelia, Finland

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A Solar PV of 27 kW, Etra / Green Park, Joensuu.

Poveria Biomassasta Project (Power from the Biomasses), collaborating with the NPA Project GREBE, is establishing a network of renewable energy demonstration sites in North Karelia, Finland.

Several of the sites, such as Eno Energy Cooperative or small-scale combined heat and power of Kuittila Power Ltd., are already famous examples of sustainable energy at the local level. Together with updates of current sites, there are number of new examples for demonstrating new technologies and business models. Poveria Biomassasta will gather the energy sites as a demonstration network and provide access to them through the GREBE Renewable Energy Business Portal.http://www.renewablebusiness.eu/

The energy enterprises in North Karelia have joint development on the integration of solar energy solutions into district heating plants – and a new project, Poveria auringosta (Power from the Sun), has been launched for the purpose. The project will support attending enterprises in energy system planning and carrying out the investments and follow-up. In addition, there has been new interest in energy storage opportunities in the region, and several investments for energy storage are prepared. The practices in wood energy, technology manufacturing, and hybrid systems will also be demonstrated through the network.

The renewable energy demonstration network in North Karelia will be launched at the end of 2017. Karelia UAS will provide further information of the demonstration network and available case examples through the GREBE and Poveria Biomassasta projects.

GREBE participates in Galway Chamber’s Energy Conference

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The GREBE Project participated in Galway Chamber’s energy conference in the Galway Bay Hotel on Friday 12th May 2017.  As part of the panel on the International Perspective, Pauline Leonard (GREBE Project Co-ordinator) stressed the benefits of renewable energy for the social and economic development of peripheral regions and the benefits of working with international partners in terms of technology and knowledge transfer. Other participants on the international panel included Chris Stark (Scottish Government Director of Energy and Climate Change), Denise Massey (MD of Energy Innovation Centre UK), Alex White (Energy Policy Group Chair at the Institute of International & European Affairs and former Minster for Energy) and Jim Mulcair (Chairman of Roadbridge).

The conference was organised by Galway Chamber of Commerce and its president Conor O’Dowd expects to see 30% more people living in Galway by 2050. Minister of State for Natural Resources Seán Kyne TD, outlined the Government’s position on the energy sector and stressed how important this sector is to the region.  The leader of the Green Party, Eamon Ryan highlighted the need for a zero carbon society by 2050

The conference was sponsored by Coillte and SSE, and James O’Hara of SSE stated that the development of Galway Wind Park will herald a huge increase in renewable electricity generation in the West of Ireland.  It will involve 69 turbines, powering up to 84,000 homes and effectively replacing 190,000 tonnes of carbon generated electricity each year.  The wind park near Moycullen will become Ireland’s largest onshore wind farm to date and will assist Galway in achieving the status of a net exporter of renewable energy.

Brian Sheridan of the Galway Harbour Company and John Breslin of SmartBay outlined the potential for marine energy in the region, with discussions about offshore wind and the generation of wave and tidal power.

The third energy market package agreed between EU and EEA/EFTA states

The Third Energy Market Package – EU energy market rules, were incorporated into the EEA/EFTA Agreement last week. Norway and the EU are closely connected through the energy market – by including the Third Energy Market Package into the EEA/EFTA Agreement, Norwegian actors are secured access to the EU-market. 

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The aim of the Third Energy Package is to improve the functioning of the Internal Energy Market. The package separates energy supply and generation from the operation of transmission networks, and strengthens the independence and cooperation of energy regulators. It also covers cross-border cooperation between transmission system operators and increases transparency in retail markets to benefit consumers. The Joint Committee Decision (JCD) contains substantial adaptations necessary for the participation of the EEA EFTA States in the Internal Energy Market. The approval of the Third Energy Package – by both sides – is the result of constructive discussions between the EU and the EEA EFTA States.

25th anniversary – The EEA Joint Committee provides a forum for the EEA EFTA States and the EU to exchange views and take decisions by consensus to incorporate EU legislation into the EEA Agreement. The meetings last week marks the 25th anniversary of the signing of the EEA Agreement since the first one in Porto, Portugal. The Agreement brings together the EU and EEA EFTA States in a Single Market, ensuring legal homogeneity. Since its entry into force in 1994, a lot of  acts have been incorporated.

EEA – The European Economic Area (EEA) brings together the EU Member States and three of the EFTA States (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). It was established by the EEA Agreement, an international agreement which enables these three EFTA States to participate fully in the Single Market. The objective of the EEA Agreement is to create a homogenous European Economic Area. All relevant EU legislation in the field of the Single Market is integrated into the EEA Agreement so that it applies throughout the whole of the EEA, ensuring uniform application of laws relating to the Single Market.

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Renewable energy sector – The Third Energy Package Agreement between EEA/EFTA and EU is also of importance for the renewable sector in Norway – this means that there will be a close connection to the EU renewable energy market.

Repowering onshore wind in the Highlands and Islands

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Planning permissions and consents for onshore wind farms in the UK generally require decommissioning and restoration after a 25-year lifetime. With some of the earliest windfarms being built in the early 1990s we are starting to look at what happens next. With proper operations and maintenance, there is no reason that windfarms can’t operate past this lifetime, especially if they’re receiving ROC payments.

It is important if we want to continue to decarbonise the economy that these existing consented sites continue to produce low carbon electricity and this is represented in Scottish Planning Policy:

‘Proposals to repower existing wind farms which are already in suitable sites where environmental and other impacts have been shown to be capable of mitigation can help to maintain or enhance installed capacity, underpinning renewable energy generation targets. The current use of the site as a wind farm will be a material consideration in any such proposals.’

We are now coming to a stage where many of the first windfarm sites using small clusters of 600KW turbines at around 70m in tip height are coming to the end of their operational lifetime. In many cases, and in eventually in all cases it will be more economic to “repower” the site.

There are numerous benefits in utilising a site, which is already powered: they are grid connected, planned for and there’s years of real data that can inform new design. There can be some difficulties if bases needed replaced or grid connection needs upgraded, the key however is that the sites have the planning permissions in place, if not for larger turbines.

Some sites might even be economically viable to repower before the 25-year lifetime is achieved due to the financial performance of the site and the rapid evolution and increase in wind turbine size. The progress in the last 20 years has been phenomenal with prices tumbling as hub height increases and economies of scale are seen.

There are many options for repowering sites such as maintaining the grid connection capacity by increasing turbine size but lowering numbers. Some sites may wish to maintain turbine numbers but increase the size and capacity but how do these large turbines affect the visual requirements of the area? Sometimes few larger turbines are deemed more acceptable.

Although many sites will not be considered for repowering before the mid-2020s the procedures need to be put in place now and trialled on some of the earliest Highland wind farms. Given the time it has taken to consent these original windfarms there can’t be considerable downtime between decommissioning and repowering considering the ambitious decarbonisation targets the Scottish Government has set.

In an ideal world, we would move to planning for perpetuity.

South West College in Northern Ireland lead the Digital and Environmental Skills for Facilities Management (DEFMA) Project

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The DEFMA project is co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union, which involves the development and making available of educational resources & materials for facility managers that aim to address the existing occupational digital and green skills needs and strengthen the employability of the profession across the EU.

South West College in Northern Ireland are the lead partner in the project which commenced last Autumn and will be completed in March 2019.  South West College is also an associated partner of the GREBE Project. DEFMA is being implemented by a partnership of five partners from five countries. The composition of the consortium guarantees that all aspects of the work plan are carried out in a competent way, ensuring high quality outcomes and efficient and effective working methods.

The Consortium of the DEFMA project consists of the following organizations:

  1. SWC -South West College, United Kingdom
  2. PROMEA -The Hellenic Society for the Promotion of Research and Development Methodologies, Greece
  3. SNS –Scuola Nazionale Servizi Foundation alongside Facility Management companies, Italy
  4. BGFMA -Bulgarian Facility Management Association, Bulgaria
  5. VSRC -Vilnius Builders Training Centre, Lithuania

The main objective of DEFMA is to develop and make available to stakeholders, organizations and companies, a novel training program on sustainable environmental management that will empower facility managers with a new skill set of competences related to energy efficiency technologies and building sustainability issues, connecting in this way Vocational Education and Training programmes with the needs of the sustainable building sector. At the same time, the DEFMA project will facilitate the validation of developed earning outcomes at European level.

Facility managers, apart from technical and management competencies, require a combination of digital and environmental skills to be able to maintain high-performance buildings capable of significantly reducing energy and water consumption. There is thus an increasing need to equip facilities managers with the skills and capacities required to:

a) support carbon emission reduction measures,

b) monitor resources consumption,

c) use “smart” building controls and up-to-date environmental technology systems (e.g. building automation),

d) identify energy losses and water leaks, rectify small faults, and carryout simple maintenances.

The project will address this challenge by increasing the relevance of VET provision for facilities managers to match their competences and skills with environmental and sustainability needs of the built environment and promote employability and mobility within the sector.

The development of the DEFMA curriculum and all related educational resources are expected to be completed in the upcoming months. It’s worth noting that all educational resources (learning units, educational material, training manuals) will be freely available online for non-profit use in the form of a MOOC (Massive Open Online Course).

Further information can be obtained from the project coordinator at South West College at defmaproject@gmail.com or on the website http://www.defma-project.eu/