Highlands and Islands University and Queen’s University Belfast in marine renewable energy partnership

AR - Prof Ian Bryden

An £8.2 million cross-border research centre for renewable energy has been launched at Queen’s University in Belfast, in partnership with the University of the Highlands and Islands. The Bryden Centre for Advanced Marine and Bio-Energy Research will focus on technologies such as tidal power. This will involve staff completing research at ocean energy sites in Western Scotland, Northern Ireland and in Ireland.

Professor Clive Mulholland, principal and vice-chancellor of the University of the Highlands and Islands said it was proud to collaborate with partners to develop what is expected to be cutting edge research. “There is huge potential for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Ireland to lead the way in marine and bio-energy,” he said. The work initiated by the centre is expected to help realise that potential and to deliver a lasting economic impact across the wider region in the process.

The centre will recruit 34 PhD students working in a range of marine and bio-energy disciplines, and 5 will be based at the University of the Highlands and Islands. Partners include Letterkenny Institute of Technology, Ulster University, Donegal County Council and Dumfries and Galloway Council. The centre is named after the late Professor Ian Bryden, a Scot who became a leading expert in marine renewable energy over a 30 year research career in organisations such as UHI. It has been developed with European Union funding and support from the Department for the Economy in Northern Ireland and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation in Ireland.

There has been considerable excitement about the potential for Scotland to harness its marine energy resources to help reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuels. However, firms operating in tidal and wave power have faced challenges in demonstrating the commercial appeal of such technologies following a sharp fall in the cost of generating electricity from wind.

Source: MARK WILLIAMSON / 19th January 2018


Use of data and technology to grow and harvest more wood


TECH4EFFECT is a collaborative research project to increase access to wood resources. Data and knowledge based management will enable more efficient silviculture and harvesting, but also reduction of soil and environmental impact from forest operations with the TECH4EFFECT benchmarking system.

The strategic objective of TECH4EFFECT is to improve the efficiency of European forest management by enabling a data-driven knowledge-based revolution of the European forest sector while also providing key incremental improvements in technology. The TECH4EFFECT (Knowledge and Technologies for Effective Wood Procurement) project recently published a new animation video: https://youtu.be/54DDLTon7rg


The TECH4EFFECT project has received funding under the Horizon2020 BBI (Bio-Based-Industries) programme by the European Union. The TECH4EFFECT project objectives are relevant also for the Northern Periphery regions and GREBE partner countries.

More information about the project can be found under http://www.tech4effect.eu/



Albert Albertsson was awarded the Order of the Falcon

ICI blog

Albert Albertsson was awarded the Order of the Falcon on New Year’s Day for his contribution to geothermal utilisation. The award ceremony took place at Bessastaðir which is the official residence of the President of Iceland. Albert has worked at HS Orka since 1977 and has been at the forefront of innovation and development at the company since the beginning. He has led the way in implementing this approach and the resulting work practices within HS Orka.

Albert is amongst other things the concept creator of the Resource Park, which is located near the HS Orka Power Plant in Reykjanes. The Resource Park is unique and encourages the further development and improved utilisation of the resources provided by power plants. The goal of the Resource Park is a ‘Society without waste’ where all the resource streams of the power plant are utilised in a responsible manner and for the benefit and development of society.

Albert has always placed a great emphasis on educating others and knowledge dissemination, not only in the diverse field of geothermal utilisation but also in the field of technology and environmental issues. Albert’s co- workers would like to congratulate him on this great achievement. The Icelandic Order of the Falcon is the highest honour that the Icelandic state can bestow on individuals, both from home and abroad. The order was founded by King Christian X on the 3rd of July, 1921 to award those who make a significant contribution to Iceland.

(source: https://www.hsorka.is/en/about-us/news/albert-albertsson-was-awarded-order-falcon/)


Irish Government to set up regional climate action offices

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The Irish Government is to set up four regional climate action offices involving local authorities to provide a more coordinated approach for adapting to the challenges of climate change. A large part of their work will be focused on adapting to the risk of flooding. The National Climate Change Mitigation Plan will be published today by Minister for Communications, Climate Action, and Environment Denis Naughten. 

It is aimed at enabling the nation to adapt to and deal with the impacts of climate change and to the extreme weather events that accompany it, such as those experienced when Storm Ophelia hit Ireland last October. Three people lost their lives during the storm, on-land wind gusts of up to 156km/h were recorded, 385k homes lost electricity supply, 109k lost their water supply, and 148 waste water schemes were knocked out of action.

The plan will set out a national pathway for achieving a more climate resilient economy and society:

  • It will include a key role for county councils and better coordination of climate adaption measures across Government departments and State agencies.
  • It will highlight the importance of climate adaptation considerations in the built environment and in spatial planning.
  • It will encourage local authorities to consider acquiring flood prone lands for suitable, but less vulnerable land use.

The Government estimates that the total value of assets lost as a result of flooding events in Ireland has averaged almost €200m per year in recent years. This number is expected to increase six-fold to almost €1.2bn by 2050.



Fermanagh & Omagh District Council (FODC) launch their Community Plan ‘From Talk to Action’ – 8 week Consultation


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Following the launch of the Community Plan, an Action Plan has been produced including actions which will help to begin to jointly tackle the major issues in the district.  A high level of partnership will be required to achieve this, with a focus on prevention and early intervention.   Some of the actions can be delivered in the short to medium term, others will take longer to fully achieve.  The draft Fermanagh Omagh 2030 Community Plan Action Plan can be downloaded here

Community Planning

Community planning brings together partner organisations from the public, private and community/voluntary sectors. Partners work together with local communities to deliver better public services which meet local needs and to improve the lives of local people.

Community planning is a new statutory duty which came into operation on 1 April 2015 as part of the full implementation of local government reform. As the lead partner, the Council is responsible for making arrangements for community planning in its area. You can find out more about the statutory duty here.

The “Fermanagh Omagh 2030” Community Plan is the overarching plan for the Fermanagh and Omagh district, bringing together the knowledge, expertise and collective resources of a wide range of partners, all working towards a single agreed vision. The Community Planning Partnership  believes that services and quality of life for all in the district can be improved by getting the public, private and community/voluntary sectors working together better towards our agreed vision and 8 long-term outcomes.

The plan has been co-designed with input from all key stakeholders including the wider community. The co-design process took place over 2015 and 2016 and the plan itself was launched in March 2017.

The draft Action Plan is available for consultation for 8 weeks between 18 December 2017 and 11 February 2018.  As the plans are about citizens place and their future, their say and engagement is important.  The Community Planning Partnership is keen to hear the views of citzens about what is included in the Action Plan.  You can complete an online survey here

FODC invite people to attend their Drop-in Public Information Events which will be held in January on the dates below.

Lisnaskea Library 16th January 2018, 6pm – 8pm

Omagh Library 17th January 2018, 10am – 8pm

Enniskillen Library 23rd January 2018, 10am – 8pm

Owenkillew Community Centre, Gortin 24th January 2018, 6pm – 8pm

Special arrangements will be made to accommodate attendees at each workshop.  Please contact FODC in advance for special requirements where requests will be accommodated where possible.  At the events, people will be given an opportunity to talk to trained facilitators who will discuss the Action Plan and note comments and input.

Following consultation, a report will be prepared and presented to the Community Planning Strategic Partnership Board for consideration before agreement of the final Action Plan.

You can make comments on the Action Plan via FODCs digital platform through Facebook and Twitter.  FODCs Facebook and Twitter accounts are @fermanaghomagh.  The Fermanagh and Omagh Community Plan also has a hashtag where all communications are brought together for collective viewing: #fermanaghomagh2030

If you would like more information about the Community Plan Action Plan, please contact Oonagh Donnelly, Community Planning Officer by telephoning 0300 303 1777, ext 20213, textphone 028 8225 6216 or email community.planning@fermanaghomagh.com



Weather conditions causing blackouts in eastern Finland


Power companies in eastern Finland have struggled for about a week to restore power to homes plunged into darkness as a result of power lines giving way under the burden of heavy snowfall shortly after the New Year.

The power companies in Kainuu, Northern Savo and Noth Karelia have deployed hundreds of electricians, and several helicopters and military vehicles to locate tree falls, and clear and repair downed power lines. Resident evacuations have been carried out in several rural municipalities due to lack of back-up heating systems and dropping temperatures. So far, about 20,000 households have experienced blackouts, some in most remote areas lasted over a week.

In Finland, national contingency planning is based on the contingency legislation stating responsibilities of organisations, institutes and privately-owned companies to prepare for emergencies. The system encompasses the society in all levels, and helps to respond in events such as experienced heavy snow and tree falls. The current operation in eastern Finland is coordinated accordingly by the Rescue Services.

The GREBE project investigates the impact of extreme weather conditions to the renewable energy business in northern and arctic peripheral areas. This includes sharing information on contingency planning, among others, which is essential topic as the latest challenges prove in the eastern Finland.

Contingency planning in Finland: https://arctic-council.org/eppr/resources/national-contingency-planning/finland/


Scotland’s First Energy Strategy

ERI Blog

The Scottish government revealed far-reaching novel strategies to increase the use of renewable fuel in electricity, transport and heat across the country, under its first ever Energy Strategy. Business, Energy and Innovation minister Paul Wheelhouse said in a statement:

“This strategy recognises and builds on our achievements to date and on Scotland’s capacity for innovation. It places consumers, and their interests, more firmly than ever at the heart of everything that we do. We are leading the way in promoting community and locally owned renewable energy – well ahead of the rest of the UK – as figures announced today demonstrate. This strategy will guide decisions of the Scottish government over the coming decades. We want to make sure, within the scope of our devolved powers, good stewardship of Scotland’s energy sector – something we have called the UK government to step up to for years.”

The Strategy sets a new objective for at least 50% of all Scotland’s heat, transport and electricity consumption to be supplied from renewable sources by 2030. Another target set by the Scottish government is a 30% increase in energy productivity across the economy. To drive advancement towards the new targets, the Scottish government promised £80m fresh investment in the energy sector – £60m for low-carbon innovation and £20m for energy investment, coupled with, a confirmation for a publicly owned energy company.

Scotland’s first Energy Strategy was published on the 20th December 2017 and details can be found here – http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0052/00529523.pdf