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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Third GREBE Industry Advisory Group meeting in Finland

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The GREBE Industry Advisory Group (IAG) contributes towards dissemination of GREBE outputs and learnings among their wider networks, including at local, regional and national policy level where possible. The third annual meeting was organized at LUKE, Metla-talo Joensuu on Thursday 22th of February 2018. Finnish GREBE project partners updated the IAG on the project developments, outcomes over the last year and presented GREBE deliverables (Robert Prinz, LUKE) and its business mentoring in Finland through the Entrepreneurship Enabler Scheme (Lasse Okkonen, Karelia UAS).

The third IAG meeting was the last meeting of the GREBE IAG with representatives from the renewable energy SMEs, research and education, business development companies, regional authority and agricultural producers and forest owners union. The IAG discussed on how to disseminate the final deliverables, cooperate with future activities and how GREBE activities can most effectively be implemented in practice, based on their own experience of working in or supporting the renewable energy.

Following the GREBE IAG meeting, the regional Poveria Biomassasta project hosted a local workshop with over 20 participants at the same premises on energy business including IAG representatives, entrepreneur enabler scheme participants and other stakeholders from the field. The workshop focused on bioenergy business models and experiences of entrepreneurs in the business area with a main topic on heat entrepreneurship and biogas delivery. The event was targeted for farmers and possible heat entrepreneurs as well as other interested stakeholders.

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

First Ökofen Pellematic Condens_e CHP-unit in Finland

KUAS 04-11-2017 (1)

The first Ökofen Pellematic Condens_e CHP-unit in Finland has been installed to Sirkkala Energy Park at Karelia University of Applied Sciences. The nano scale CHP (combined heat and power) unit produces energy with a condensing pellet boiler and an integrated Stirling engine. The whole unit requires only 1.5m² of floor space. The CHP unit is installed as part of Sirkkala Energy Park’s hybrid energy system that produces heat and electricity for Energy Park and for two elementary schools. This CHP unit is already connected to Fronius Symo Hybrid inverter, which will be connected to a small array of Panasonic HIT pV -panels. When battery storage is added to this system it will be a true standalone system.

Ökofen Pellematic Condens_e CHP-unit is designed for 6mm pellets, but it will run with 8mm pellets. The unit has a nominal thermal output of 9kW and 600W of electricity, but it can modulate the production between 3-13kW thermal and up to 1kW electricity. Unit size is ideal for single houses and requires only a little maintenance, just some brushing and vacuuming for pellet boiler and heat exchangers. The Stirling engine is nearly maintenance free.

KUAS 04-11-2017 (2).jpg

With the Pellematic Condens_e it is possible to generate electricity and heat for your own consumption. Economically, at least in Finland, the electricity generated should primarily be used at home and only the excess available electrical energy should be fed back into the public electricity grid.

The Integrated Microgen Stirling engine produces AC power at 50Hz from the thermal energy the pellet boiler produces. The electricity production is based on a thermal gradient, so the efficiency is dependent on the temperature difference of returning water flow from the hydraulic heating circuit. The cost of the unit is approximately €23,000, excluding the possible requirement for hydraulic components or larger-scale fuel storage.

BioRES project report on “Biomass Logistics and Trade Centres” published by GREBE partner Luke

BLTC

The BioRES project studied the best European practices to establish Biomass Logistic and Trade Centres (BLTCs), local or regional centres with optimised logistics and trading organization where different woody bioenergy products (or heat) are marketed at standardized quality focusing on the domestic market uptake. The BLTCs as regional hubs will help increasing local supply and demand for woody bioenergy products.

GREBE partner Luke (Natural Resources Institute Finland) is leading the working package on European best practices of BLTCs. The recently published report about good practice examples analysed 11 examples of operating BLTCs from Austria, Finland, Germany and Slovenia. The SWOT analyses of business models were carried out in the stakeholder workshops in the implementing countries to evaluate the possibilities and limitations to transfer the business models.

The role of Luke in the BioRES project is to support the project partners in the implementing countries, particularly with logistics of biomass procurement and technological solutions related questions. Transfer of Finnish knowledge and experience through training of local stakeholders in Bulgaria, Serbia and Croatia is very important for the successful realization of the project objectives, says research scientist and project manager Karri Pasanen of Luke.

Lessons learned and key success factors for local market development of woody bioenergy and setting-up BLTCs were identified during a joint international workshop:

  • Finding (political) support on local level is important
  • Optimize locations (supply and demand in the same region)
  • Transparency of business (prices, contracts, reliability) – price shouldn’t be the only factor
  • Synergies with other industries should be created
  • Several main pillars of BLTC business will help to be/stay successful, e.g.selling and providing heat (not just biomass), services for potential customers (about investment in boilers, etc.),connection with other industries and businesses (for example tourism).
  • Being a local stakeholder helps to establish trust
  • Be a pioneer and have new ideas (e.g. facilitated by EU projects with European know-how exchange)
  • Extending supply chains (e.g. from private forest owners)
  • Motivated members/staff will ensure success (maintenance, customer service and sales)
  • Establishing trustful and long term cooperation among suppliers and customers and between energy market actors (also in difficult economic times) is crucial for ensuring economic success of BLTCs
  • Costumer development has to be considered as a major activity in establishing the BLTCs. This includes larger costumers, such as district heating plants and smaller individual costumers
  • Local businesses and potential BLTC investors need to invest in raising awareness about the benefits of woody bioenergy products
  • Developing suitable business models which fit to the specific local condition and nature of the BLTC operator setting has a major impact for the success of new BLTCs.
  • Specific solutions, such as public private partnerships, local district heating systems, or cooperative structure, provided participants valuable insights about a large variety of ownership models, business segments and market development.

In conclusion, the successful establishment of BLTC is a longer process requiring persistence, and it usually takes several years to achieve positive financial results.

The BioRES project results can be implemented also in the Northern Periphery regions and GREBE partner countries.

The report and other BioRES project results can be found through the following link: http://bioresproject.eu/

Fermanagh & Omagh District Councils first enterprise week hailed as a great success

GREBE, FODC & Balcas

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council has been delighted with the response to its first ever Enterprise Week which delivered well over 20 free business support events in a wide range of locations throughout the district in partnership with Omagh Enterprise Company Ltd and Fermanagh Enterprise Ltd.

A wide spectrum of topical business related seminars, workshops, talks and training events were on offer and well over 300 businesses from throughout the district were in attendance during the week-long Enterprise Week.

For the convenience of the local business community specialist events were held throughout the week in numerous locations including Enniskillen, Dromore, Irvinestown and Omagh and delivered by leading experts.

The Council was keen to ensure that a vast array of topics, relevant to the needs of the local business community was covered during the five-day event and offered a vast spectrum of advice and guidance on subjects such as e-commerce, digital marketing, website and Facebook training, practical support on starting and growing a businesses, pension auto enrolment responsibilities and how to tender for public sector contracts, to name but a few.

During the week the Enterprise Centres in Omagh and Enniskillen also opened their doors on a number of occasions when staff were available to offer on the spot advice and guidance on all sorts of business matters including health and safety, finance, etc.

One of the region’s most successful businesses, Euro Auctions in Dromore also opened its doors and hosted a Business Open Evening to outline the company’s history and path to significant worldwide growth.  At this event businesses were also able to meeting with funding representatives from the Rural Development Programme and Invest NI.

As the Council was conscious of the need to embrace all sections of the region’s business community events also focused on women in business and the social economy sector the latter of which was highlighted and celebrated at the Council’s first ever Social Economy Conference which was held on the penultimate day of Enterprise Week.

Almost 60 people attended the Social Economy Conference in the ARC Healthy Living Centre in Irvinestown where a host of celebrated speakers from the field of social enterprise addressed the event, including representatives from LEDCOM, one of Northern Ireland’s leading social enterprises, the Chief Executive of Viable Corporate Services and the Chief Executive of the ARC Healthy Living Centre itself.  Other participants at the conference included Omagh Enterprise Company Limited and Knockninny Credit Union

A new EU funded Renewable Energy Business Support Programme, GREBE was also launched on the final day of the week.  GREBE is a three year programme being delivered by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council to support renewable energy enterprise.  The progamme was launched at the BALCAS Plant in Enniskillen on Friday.

Speaking about the resounding success of the five-day event, the Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Thomas O’Reilly said the Council had been elated by the response to Enterprise Week.

“The Council is conscious of the crucial importance of SMEs to our district and has always strived to offer as much help and assistance to this valuable sector as possible.  It is therefore encouraging to note that well over 300 businesses from throughout the area were able to avail of advice and guidance from the events,” he said.

“SMEs are the lifeblood of the local economy and we have listened to and taken on board what support our businesses out there need and want.  Indeed feedback from those who attended events during Enterprise Week has been extremely positive and encouraging and I know the support we offered during the week, and continue to do throughout the year will go some way to help our businesses grow and contribute greater to the local economy”, Councillor O’Reilly added.

In conclusion the Chair said that such was the success of this pilot initiative that the Council hoped that it would continue on an annual basis.

“Although Enterprise Week was a pilot initiative, it is evident that it was a resounding success and I am confident that it will become an annual event on the calendar of events the Council holds every year for our indigenous business community,” Councillor Reilly concluded.

The VuoGas environment promotes expertise in bioeconomics

VuoGas_car

The new biogas plant built at the Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) facility in Sotkamo is based on dry fermentation and is the first of its kind in Finland. Its feed consists of grass silage cut from fields and yields up to seven times more energy than manure.

An example for the utilization of renewable energy sources

The biogas generated by the plant will be used for heating premises in Sotkamo. In the future, biogas will also be used to fuel cars and tractors. The organic residue from the biogas process will be utilized as fertilizer in crop production, thus replacing the use of chemical fertilizers and cutting down the nutrient emissions to water bodies.

Both research and product development

Its goal is to cooperate closely with enterprises in order to make its expertise available for practical use.

The researchers at the Sotkamo facility are studying the entire biogas production chain, from the field into the tank of the vehicle. Finland offers an abundance of raw material for biogas plants, as the available grassland area totals at least 240,000 hectares. All this is outside of food production.

The yield of one hectare is enough to heat a single-family house or power a car for a full year.

More on the VuoGas biogas plant can be seen from the following video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mqdwNf4NJvA&feature=player_embedded

Within the GREBE project context, the VuoGas promotes expertise in bioeconomics and gives an example for the utilization of renewable energy sources.