GREBE reviews and analyses business growth strategies: A guideline report now available

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Small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) and micro-scale enterprises (new and established) have a key role to play in generating new employment in peripheral regions. However, from knowledge of local markets it is clear that only small numbers of SMEs are consistent in generating new employment opportunities i.e. they are successful growth enterprises. SMEs that are most successful are those that successfully deployed growth strategies to optimize their business activities.

The growth strategy guideline reviews successful business growth strategies for SMEs and micro-scale enterprises in the NPA regions and analyses how these can be adapted for application to the RE sector. Business growth strategies based on new RE and energy storage technologies are identified by a case-based approach. Successful strategies allowing for business growth in current or new domestic or international market areas are available for replication across the NPA area facilitating economic growth and improved market access of new RE solutions.

The guideline report introduces firstly the contexts of business growth and main types of growth strategies. Secondly, it provides a baseline of business growth issues, preconditions of growth and support needs, basing on a transnational survey for 70 business enterprises in the NPA region. Thirdly, it provides examples of the growth strategies in renewable energy and energy storage sectors. Finally, conclusions provide more generic guidelines for the business growth strategies in the sector.

The guideline report is available for download on the GREBE website here

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