Interest grows in large-scale solar in Ireland

AR solar 03-08-2017

Irish power utility EBS and wind specialist Bord na Móna are planning a giant solar project across three counties in the middle of Ireland. Meanwhile, large-scale PV projects with a combined capacity of 1.47 GW were submitted to the local grid operator for approval.

Ireland’s state-owned power utility Electricity Supply Board (ESB) and local wind power specialist Bord na Móna announced a plan to develop a giant PV project across four locations in Roscommon, Offaly and Kildare, in the middle of the country.

In their press release, the two companies said the plant will be able to power 150,000 homes and businesses in the area, without releasing additional information. Local media, however, reported that the installation will have a capacity of 570 MW, and that it will require a global investment of around €500 million ($545.9 million).

The Irish Minister for Communications, Climate Action, & Environment Denis Naughten welcomed the co-development agreement between ESB and Bord na Móna claiming that it will place solar technology “at the heart of the solutions needed by the Irish economy and society.”

“Wind will continue to have a major role to play in supporting the decarbonisation of our energy system, but I am acutely conscious of the need to diversify our renewable generation portfolio in order to meet our ambitious climate and energy objectives. I therefore expect other technologies, including solar, to have a growing role,” Naughten said.

This is not the first investment that ESB has made in the Irish solar sector. In October 2016, the company invested €2.5 million to acquire a majority stake in Irish company Terra Solar. “This strategic investment will see the development of multiple solar PV farms within Ireland in the future, which will result in a lower carbon footprint and contribute to increased energy production from renewable sources,” the company said at the time.

That interest in large-scale solar project is increasing in Ireland was confirmed to pv magazine by the local grid operator EirGrid, which revealed that, as of the end of February 2017, it had received approximately 1,474 megawatts of solar applications from approximately 20 developers. All of these applications were for PV projects exceeding 40 MW. “It is worth noting,” said EirGrid, “that this represents a minority of solar generation applications, the majority of which are seeking connection to the distribution system operated by ESB Networks.”

Despite this growing interest for MW-sized PV projects, Ireland has currently an installed PV capacity of around 6 MW (which is almost entirely on rooftops), according to the report Ireland’s Solar Value Chain Opportunity recently published by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.

SEAI said that the main driver for this 6 MW was Part L of the domestic building regulations, which requires a proportion of the energy consumption of a dwelling to be provided by renewable energy sources. According to the report, almost 4,000 new dwellings recorded in the country’s Building Energy Rating (BER) database have included some solar PV generation capacity.

The Irish government has certainly shown a clear commitment to renewable energy sources within the country, but has yet to finalize its renewable energy policy or the financial incentives that will be made available to renewable developments. One thing that makes the country particularly attractive for solar PV development is the growing deployment of energy storage solutions across Ireland, which should make solar technology easier to integrate.

The Irish solar landscape could grow to around 3.7 GW by 2030, said a report released in November 2015 by the Irish Solar Energy Association (ISEA).

The report concluded that the rapid cost reduction of solar seen globally since 2008 could deliver large-scale solar in Ireland at a cost of €150/MWh, and if just €670 million in investment in the sector was forthcoming between 2017 and 2030, the solar industry of Ireland could support around €2 billion of Gross Added Value.

Further information is available at https://www.pv-magazine.com/2017/05/02/ireland-interest-grows-in-large-scale-solar/

Brexit implications for business and the environment in Northern Ireland

Brexit

In addition to the 2020 renewable energy and environmental objectives, the EU has defined its new   objectives for 2030. They are a 40% reduction of greenhouse gasses, a 27% improvement in energy efficiency and a 27% share of renewable energy in the primary energy supply. This objective has been defined, including the United Kingdom and revolves around two main axes: the reduction of greenhouse gasses and the share of renewable energy in the energy supply. The United Kingdom’s exit from the EU will impact on the total commitment made for 2030.

It is unclear how this will affect Northern Ireland, which never had legally binding targets, but was expected to contribute to the overall UK commitment. Much of our Environmental and Renewable energy targets were driven by EU Directives and it remains to be seen if the Northern Ireland Assembly, which has not convened since January 2017, because of political issues, has the determination to continue to support the environment, and mitigate climate change.

Businesses in Northern Ireland have to cope with a great deal of uncertainty, even more so than their UK counterparts, because of the land border with Ireland. Over the last twelve months, since the vote for Brexit, there has little clarity about what might happen in Northern Ireland, because the political plans for the shape of Brexit have not yet been drawn up.

If, during the course of the last year, there was greater clarity about how Brexit might be delivered, then businesses could now be clearer about what they will need to do to cope with Brexit. It is remarkable that after a year, businesses probably know less about the future shape of Brexit than they did a year ago, because the roadmap is less clear and it has become even more unclear, because of the UK General Election. The level of uncertainty has increased over the year,  rather than diminished.

The issues surrounding the Renewable Heat Incentive, in Northern Ireland, have created a situation where there now appears to be a low level of trust, in both Government circles, and within social society for renewable energy. It makes the work of GREBE even more relevant in Northern Ireland, than before, and highlights the need for future policy initiatives, to support RE businesses which are trying to survive and to grow.

What is the cost of Ireland not achieving its renewable energy targets?

Can we remain hopeful despite not achieving renewable targets? Michael Doran, Director, Action Renewables and GREBE project partner discusses the issues surrounding Ireland’s progress towards 2020 energy targets in his article Ireland’s Inconvenient Truth, We face a triple cost for not achieving our energy targets by 2020′

Ireland is not close to achieving its energy and emissions targets. We are currently one of four countries in Europe expected to miss the 2020 targets set out by the European Directive. The other countries set to fall short are Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Ireland is approximately 7% short of the 16% target. These legally binding targets from the 2009 Renewable Energy Directive, were set with the goal of reducing the greenhouse effect, securing energy supply, maximising renewables and saving money.

According to the SEAI, the cost to Ireland will be between €100-€150 million for each percentage point the country is short of the target. The SEAI report on Ireland’s Energy Targets: Progress, Ambition and Impacts depict the current progress towards achieving the targets, shown in the graph below, Figure 1.

AR 14-06-2017

The full article can be downloaded from the Action Renewables website here

 

The GREBE Project holds its 6th partner meeting in Norway

M Doran presenting

The GREBE project partners are holding their sixth partner meeting this week in Narvik, Norway.   The Western Development Commission and the Norwegian partners Narvik Science Park have been working together to prepare a programme to fit in as much as possible.

GREBE site visit

During the first part of our partner meeting we discussed our activities since our meeting in Finland in February and progress on rolling out our Entrepreneur Enabler Scheme to the partner regions, and plans for the next six months.  Discussions are taking place on other work package activities including the development of our online funding options decision making tool, our Virtual Energy Ideas Hub and the development of a Renewable Energy Resource Assessment Toolkit.  Tomorrow (Thursday) we will visits to Statkraft, Nordkraft, Fortum Wind Park and meetings with some other SMEs in the Narvik area.   We will have details of our activities in future blog posts and our next e-zine.

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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Report reveals massive range of UK wind, wave and tidal energy industries’ exports

Offshore wind

A report published by RenewableUK shows for the first time that UK-based companies working in the wind, wave and tidal energy sectors are exporting goods and services worldwide on a massive scale. 

Export Nation: A Year in UK Wind, Wave and Tidal Exports” reveals that in 2016, an illustrative sample of 36 UK-based firms featured in the report signed more than 500 contracts to work on renewable energy projects in 43 countries in Africa, Asia, North America, South America, Europe and Australasia. The contracts featured ranged in value from £50,000 up to £30 million each.

This is the first time that the industry has assessed the extent of Britain’s global reach in these innovative technologies, and the wide range of products and services we sell overseas. The diverse reach of the contracts indicates that the UK is well placed to benefit from the $290bn global renewables market, trading with countries inside and outside the EU.

Projects featured include: Gaia-Wind in Glasgow which is exporting small onshore wind turbines as far afield as Tonga; JDR Cables which is manufacturing massive subsea power cables in Hartlepool for German offshore wind farms; and Sustainable Marine Energy in Edinburgh, which is making tidal turbine platforms for Singapore. The UK’s world-leading wave and tidal testing centres off the coasts of Cornwall and Orkney are highlighted as the destinations of choice for global companies testing full-size devices in real sea conditions.

The UK is exporting its knowledge too, with renewable energy consultancy firms in places such as Bristol, Newcastle, Colchester and Winchester, winning contracts to plan and oversee the development of wind farms and other renewable energy projects in dozens of countries including the USA, China, India, Chile, Japan, Indonesia, Taiwan and Mauritius.

RenewableUK’s Executive Director Emma Pinchbeck said: “The UK’s wind, wave and tidal energy exports are great British success stories on the international stage. Our businesses are securing hundreds of contracts, worth millions of pounds, across six continents. Our leadership in this $290bn renewables marketplace will be even more important as we leave the EU.   

“We need to act swiftly to retain this competitive advantage or other nations will capitalise on the hard work our businesses have done to build opportunities. This year, as part of its Industrial Strategy, the Government will be looking to identify and support world-leading, innovative industries with global trade potential. This report shows that the UK’s wind and marine energy sectors can offer much to the Government’s Industrial Strategy. Britain must secure its position as a leading exporter in tomorrow’s global energy market”.  

The study is released in the same week as the Global Wind Energy Council’s annual report (on Tuesday 25th April), which will highlight developments in the international wind energy market, offering further opportunities for British exporters.

Notes:

  1. RenewableUK is the trade and professional body for the wind, wave and tidal energy industries. Formed in 1978, and with more than 400 corporate members which employ more than 250,000 people, RenewableUK is the country’s leading renewable energy trade association.
  2. The report is available here (NB it is a large file which will take several minutes to download). The study covers a sample of 36 companies based on a survey of member companies by RenewableUK. It also includes data from publicly announced contracts.  In 2016, these 36 companies signed 557 export contracts for work on 527 renewable energy projects overseas in the onshore wind, offshore wind, wave and tidal energy industries. These range from individual orders for small turbines to multi-million pound contracts to provide massive components and heavy-duty infrastructure for offshore wind farms. The actual number of UK companies exporting, and the number of contracts signed, will be higher as the sample represents less than 10% of RenewableUK’s membership.  The purpose of this study was to begin to assess the extent of export activity among UK-based wind, wave and tidal energy companies.
  3. The UK wind industry has an annual turnover of more than £5.9 billion in direct economic activity, according to the Office for National Statistics. This rises to over £11.3 billion when indirect economic activity is included. Offshore wind alone is bringing over £20 billion in investment to Britain over the course of this decade.
  4. GWEC’s annual Global Wind Market Report will be published on Tuesday 25th April. It provides a comprehensive snapshot of the global wind industry in more than 80 countries. This year’s edition includes insights into the 20 top wind markets across the world, including new entrants Vietnam and Argentina, and a five-year global market forecast out to 2021.

GREBE publishes its 4th project E-Zine

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The GREBE Project has published its fourth e-zine to showcase the activities and ongoing goals of the project.  

We held our fifth partner meeting in Joensuu, Finland in February, where we held a joint conference with the IEA Bioenergy Task 43 and launched our online training and networking platform renewablebusiness.eu.

This e-zine will highlight details of our Report on the Influence of Environmental Conditions in the NPA & Arctic Regions, our report which identifies technologies which can be transferred from areas of best practice to areas where renewable energy uptake is low and our Growth Strategy Guidelines for SMEs in renewable energy.

We also have details of four participating companies in our Entrepreneur Enabler Scheme in Northern Ireland (MSL – McCrea Services Ltd., Moffitt & Robinson, Rowe Energy and Winters Renewables) and information on three more of our policy workshops.  To read our e-zine, please click here