This project was a demonstration project under the GREAT Project (Growing Renewable Energy Applications and Technologies) which is an EU funded project under the INTERREG IVB NWE Programme. GREAT aimed to encourage communities and small to medium size enterprises (SMEs) to develop technological solutions for Smart Grid, Renewable Energy and Distributive Generation; to research and develop policy issues for regulatory authorities and to provide structured co-operation opportunities between SMEs and research institutes / technology developers.
Údarás Na Gaeltachta was lead partner on the GREAT Project, with two full-time staff allocated to the co-ordination and implementation of their project aims. Each Leim Enterprise Centre was selected as a demonstration site. The Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) also provided funding for this demonstration project under the Better Energy Communities (BEC) programme, and Údarás Na Gaeltachta utilized the expertise available in the SEAI in the development of the smart grid.
Karelia University of Applied Sciences implemented a pilot mentoring programme for three renewable energy related companies in North Karelia. Mentoring took place between January 2018 and April 2018 for three renewable energy related companies in North Karelia. The mentoring provided the companies with suggestions for production process development, new business and product ideas and ways to develop their company as a whole.
As mentoring is a rather new method in Finnish business world, the GREBE project team was interested to see how things would proceed in its pilot mentoring sessions. The Irish partner’s processes were taken as an example for Karelia’s mentoring. The mentor proposed 2-5 optional solutions for the mentee’s, including for example improving the production process using LEAN principles, new (bio-based) raw material options, proceeding with product innovation, new business lines and new cooperation partnerships. The mentee’s chose 1-2 proposals to take further and discussed them with the mentor and/or other partners.
The mentoring process was well received and the mentees and mentor formed a good and open relationship. Although some of the proposed solutions seemed radical, many of them were already thought of in the company but not taken further, and the mentor assisted and sparred in the process. With a given tight time schedule and mentoring schedule, the companies found the mentoring useful and efficient. Due to limitation of time as the mentoring was performed in four months the outcomes of the mentoring are not realized yet. The mentoring finished in April 2018 and the companies are proceeding with the chosen solutions.
Here are some experiences from the mentor:
“I’m Juha Määttä, Spiralia Consulting Company and I have done three business mentoring cases in the Finnish part of the project. All business cases are part of GREBE project mentoring. Mentoring tasks included solving R&D process bottlenecks, screening of new business opportunities and analysing production process. Possibilities of new biomaterial have also been estimated. All companies have had interesting and challenging business cases. Mentoring has brought new solutions for the companies. All parties have increased their knowledge of renewable energy and enlarged our networks in business and research.”
A more detailed description of the mentoring process will be available in August 2018.
In June the UK Government released figures showing that renewable energy generation has seen a dramatic 11% increase in the first half of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017. Improved weather conditions for generation have seen wind generation in Scotland increase by 37%.
Paul Wheelhouse, Scottish energy minister, said: “These figures show that Scotland’s renewable energy sector is stronger than ever with almost exactly 1GW of new capacity installed since Q1 2017 and a strong pipeline of further projects still to be constructed.” Last year proved to be another record breaking year with provisional annual statistics showing that renewable electricity generation was up 27% on 2016 and 19% on 2015. The increase in generation now brings 69% of Scotland’s electricity consumption being delivered by renewable energy.
Scotland has long delivered on world leading electricity targets and is helped by an abundant onshore wind resource and historic hydro system. As the Scottish Government builds out new offshore wind and tidal projects the increase in generation only looks to continue. Recent plans for a new pumped storage hydro scheme on Scotland’s famous Loch Ness show a long term vision for the country’s electricity grid as it looks to increase penetration of renewables into its grid system. Climate change targets have been helped by the closure of Scotland’s last remaining coal powered fire station in recent years but ageing nuclear power stations and a “no new nuclear” policy look to add new challenges in the future.
The Dingwall Wind Co-op was developed by David and Richard Lockett (the owners of the land) in partnership with Sharenergy, a co-operative helping to set up RE cooperatives. The turbine operates on the property of the Knockbain Farm near Dingwall. The Locketts’ acquired planning permission and grid connection, after they approached Sharenergy, which assured they can help them with the share offer to the rest of the community. The co-op structure, mitigated some of the risks associated with developing a wind project. Furthermore, Richard specified that he was fond of the idea of shared ownership.
The Wind Co-op owns and runs a 250kW wind turbine (WTN 250) just above Dingwall in Ross-shire. The turbine is the first 100% co-operatively owned wind development in Scotland. The Co-op was launched in September 2013 and the turbine was commissioned in June 2014. The Co-op has 179 members, 90% of whom are from the local area. The shares are between £250 and £20 000, with an average about £4000.
The co-op contributes to a community fund estimated at between £2000 and £8000/year. Members of the Co-op receive a return on their investment and EIS (Enterprise Investment Scheme for Investors) tax relief. The landowners, who originated the project, receive a rental payment for use of their land.
The Irish Government has pledged to ban the sale of new cars with tailpipes by the year 2030, as part of its commitment to environment issues. Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment Denis Naughten said that he told his European counterparts at a European Council meeting this week that Ireland “had set itself an objective” to ban the sale of all new cars with a tailpipe by 2030.
But he said that in order to do that, the European automotive industry needed to ramp up its efforts to reduce emissions and produce zero emissions cars. “They really need to drive ambition in this area so that we can reduce overall carbon emissions within the transport sector that make up one quarter of all carbon emissions within the EU.” There are widespread plans to ensure there are zero-emission vehicles on roads. Alternative fuel options are being looked at to introduce green-energy fleets for Dublin Bus, Bus Éireann and school buses. Ireland could be forced to pay up to €75 million each year if it doesn’t meet its EU renewable-energy targets by 2020 – with many experts and politicians saying it won’t meet those targets.
Naughten also discussed how to tackle cigarette butt litter with his European counterparts. Every single cigarette butt has 12,000 micro strands of plastic in it. As a result on a global level, we have 1,900 million strands of plastic going into our water streams every single second. And it’s not just a problem of microplastics getting into our waters, also the cigarette filters themselves are there to block tar and other chemicals going into the smoker’s lungs. “But they end up in our water courses, in our rivers having an impact on aquatic life, and in our fish stocks.” The 2017 National Litter Pollution Report showed that half of all street litter is made up of cigarette butts. It’s understood that on-the-spot litter fines are going to be increased from €150 to €250 in an attempt to tackle the problem.