Bioenergy is thriving in Akureyri

Electric Car

Renewable energy, including bioenergy, is thriving in the town Akureyri, in northern Iceland, with the community actively moving in the direction of carbon neutrality. The energy transition team at Orkustofnun visited Akureyri in order to look into the current status of renewable energy in transport and in utilization of biomass in the Eyjafjörður Area, northern Iceland. Orkustofnun’s branch in Akureyri was visited, and Guðmundur H. Sigurðarson, Managing Director of Vistorka, presented the company’s activities and the status of these issues including achieving carbon neutral society in Akureyri.

Several charging stations for electric cars are available for use in Akureyri and some of them where visited. The stations are owned and operated by ONNorðurorka and Rarik. Vistorka received funding from the Energy Fund for development of infrastructure for electric cars which will result in 11 electric charging stations in the North of Iceland. Most of the projects described below have been funded by the Energy Fund as well as supported by Orkusetur.

The compost company Molta was visited, where organic waste is collected from homes and companies in the Eyjafjörður Area and beyond for compost production. Production of biodiesel from animal waste is planned at the facility. The company Orkey was also visited, where biodiesel is produced from waste cooking oil. The biodiesel is used in buses in Akureyri, on fishing vessels and in asphalt production. The aim is to increase production by adding animal waste as mentioned previously. Methane is currently produced from the old landfill in Akureyri and “harnessing” of the manure in the Eyjafjörður area is on the drawing board to further increase methane production to fuel 2-3000 cars per year.

The use of electric bikes by the employees of Norðurorka is also of interest, as electric bikes are relatively inexpensive, convenient in a hilly and windy environment and use a renewable power source. In winter the bikes’ studded tyres are well suited for icy conditions as well as the on-board lighting system is important for safety in the darkness of the Arctic winter. The energy transition team at Orkustofnun has many irons in the fire these days and are gathering ideas that help accomplish Althingi’s action plan regarding energy transition. In order to meet such goals, it is clear that applying well-known and successful methods and technologies are important. Orkustofnun, Orkusjóður and Orkusetur will continue to support projects in the field of energy transition throughout the country.

 

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Expected socio-economic benefits of bio-oil production in a resource periphery

The Finnish GREBE partners, Karelia UAS and LUKE, have assessed the direct and indirect socioeconomic impacts on a local, regional and national economy from forest biomass-based bio-oil production using input–output (I–O) analysis.

The planned fast pyrolysis bio-oil industry project will include two production units (each with the capacity of 90 000 tons of bio-oil) and related sites, a raw material terminal and infrastructures. The annual requirement for the biomass raw materials is approximately 700 000 solid m3, including by-products from the wood processing industries as well as round wood and smaller diameter energy wood. For fast pyrolysis bio-oil production, town of Lieksa has locational advantages, as there are available stocks of wood processing industry by-products (sawn dust, cutter shavings) with a currently limited market.

The analyses shows the potential of a bio-oil factory on the development of the local economy and determined the type of impacts bio-oil production has on population and employment development and on the public municipal economy. The study area is located in a resource periphery far from growing regions and suffers from development problems and stagnating development trends. In terms of employment and income, bio-oil production could have a significant positive net impact on the local economy despite leakages to regional and national economies. The impacts of bio-oil production could enhance the future development prospects for the resource periphery according to positive changes in the net migration and by slowing population losses.

Karelia UAS 01-09-2016

Pie chart from average estimates of the employment (number of jobs) and income (million euros) impacts of bio-oil factory construction and operation present at the local, regional and national levels. Size of the pie shows the scale of the total employment and income impacts of the construction and production periods.

For further information, please contact Lasse Okkonen (lasse.okkonen@karelia.fi), Olli Lehtonen (olli.lehtonen@luke.fi)