Land competition between biogas plants and farmers


Northern Ireland’s expanding renewable energy industry is hungry for good quality land, pricing out farmers and now seeking leases in the Republic. Rental values for productive grassland in the north coast area of Northern Ireland have seen a sharp increase within the past fortnight as competition intensifies between larger dairy units looking to expand and farmers looking to produce grass for anaerobic digestion (AD) plants in the area.

Farmers and auctioneers report prices as high as £450/acre (€512/acre) have been paid at auction for top-quality silage ground in the Coleraine area to supply AD plants. Other auctions have seen silage ground making over £400/acre (€457/acre). With limited ground coming on to the rental market, the knock-on effect has seen conacre prices for less productive grassland in the surrounding area also rising, with reports of £200/acre (€228/acre) to £300/acre (€342/acre)being paid on leases secured in January. While some of these prices are inflated by area-based payments, there is no doubt that AD plant operators are in a strong position to bid as a result of government subsidies for AD.

Operators of AD plants in Northern Ireland have also begun to lease land south of the border to grow feedstock such as grass or maize silage. One auctioneer, one farmer and one agribusiness representative in the border area of the Republic reported that farmers in north Co Monaghan had difficulty competing with NI biogas producers for land leases. While this is reported to be on a small scale and the sources had no figures available, pressure could increase in the future as renewable energy support schemes become available from the end of this year in the Republic.



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

Use of data and technology to grow and harvest more wood


TECH4EFFECT is a collaborative research project to increase access to wood resources. Data and knowledge based management will enable more efficient silviculture and harvesting, but also reduction of soil and environmental impact from forest operations with the TECH4EFFECT benchmarking system.

The strategic objective of TECH4EFFECT is to improve the efficiency of European forest management by enabling a data-driven knowledge-based revolution of the European forest sector while also providing key incremental improvements in technology. The TECH4EFFECT (Knowledge and Technologies for Effective Wood Procurement) project recently published a new animation video:


The TECH4EFFECT project has received funding under the Horizon2020 BBI (Bio-Based-Industries) programme by the European Union. The TECH4EFFECT project objectives are relevant also for the Northern Periphery regions and GREBE partner countries.

More information about the project can be found under



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.

Knowledge transfer in the NPA – GREBE expert sessions with SME’s


The GREBE project arranged a possibility for the transfer of knowledge within the Northern Periphery area by hosting expert sessions with SME´s. The sessions were part of the GREBE project meeting events hosted by the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council from 6th – 10th November 2017. Two experts, Saija Rasi and Veikko Möttönen from the GREBE partner organization Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) were available to the participants for one-to-one meetings.

Saija Rasi, whose expertise is in bioenergy production, biogas technology, gas analysis, treatment of biodegradable wastes and bio refineries, provided information to stakeholders interested in biogas technology / energy production and nutrient circulation.

Veikko Möttönen has his area of expertise in wood mechanical properties, drying of wood and sawn timber, further processing of sawn wood, further processing of side streams and wood modification, and was able to provide information on practices to handle side streams and plans of company for the production development.

The experts were also available during a networking event for businesses from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland giving the opportunity to engage with one another or opening up the possibility of joint working opportunities in the future.


This activity was part of the GREBE project´s “Knowledge & Technology Transfer and Business Delivery” working package led by the Natural Research Institute Finland (LUKE). The aim of the expert sessions were to facilitate transnational effective knowledge transfer and collaboration in the renewable energy business sector and to promote knowledge sharing and information exchange between actors in renewable energy supply and demand.

More information on the topic in general can be found from GREBE´s Renewable Business Portal under:

WDC to recruit project administrators for EU funded renewable energy projects


GREBEs lead partner the Western Development Commission, wishes to recruit project administrators to work on two renewable energy projects.

The ‘Regional Development and Integration of unused biomass wastes as Resources for Circular products and economic Transformation’ (RE-DIRECT) Project is an EU co-funded (North West Europe Programme) project to promote the efficient use of natural resources and materials by converting residual biomass into carbon products and activated carbon at smart regional decentralised units.

Details of this role can be found on the website, and further information on the project itself can be found on the website or download the REDIRECT_Factsheet

The ‘Community based energy solutions for remote areas’ (LECo) Project is an EU co-funded (Northern Periphery & Arctic Programme) project that will support the development of local energy communities. Details of this role can be found on the website  and further information on the project is available on the LECo_Factsheet

Details of both roles can be found on the Western Development Commission website

Deadline for receipt of applications is 17.00, Tuesday 5 December 2017.

The WDC is an equal opportunities employer

Canvassing will disqualify

Ba bhuntáiste é líofacht sa Ghaeilge


Nordregio Working Paper on Bio-energy Development in North Karelia, Jämtland, and Västernorrland

KUAS 08-11-2017

Nordregio has released a working paper looking into rural bio-energy development in the region of North Karelia in Finland, and Jämtland and Västernorrland in Sweden. The paper identifies the enabling factors behind the relatively successful local bio-energy development and considers how the bio-energy development has influenced sustainable local and regional development.

The working paper is a part of the TRIBORN Project, which investigates how to increase the production of bioenergy in ways that promote sustainable development understood as positive economic, social and environmental outcomes – in rural areas.

TRIBORN is a Norwegian-led research project investigating how to increase production of bioenergy in ways that promote sustainable development in rural areas. It aims to understand and foster systems for bioenergy innovation and related support policies that can produce positive social, economic and environmental outcomes. The Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO) leads the project, and the Research Council of Norway funds the project. In addition, the Norwegian Forest and Landscape Institute and Nordregio, a Nordic research institute for regional studies, are key partners in the project.

For the GREBE partner region of North Karelia, the report summarizes the bioenergy sectors success factors and development, but also challenges related to the utilisation of the sectors potential. The report refers to the OECD Green Growth Studies stating that “many favorable institutional factors for regional innovation are in place in North Karelia: strong local government with willingness to act, local ownership of power utilities, presence of strong research institutes and education facilities, tradition of co-operative organization, legitimacy of local bioenergy production and presence of local and regional actors in several stages in the supply chain”.

As development challenges, the report identifies several aspects, such as changes in forest and bio-energy policy; access to risk finance and other economic challenges facing especially local small and medium-sized enterprises; the challenge of ageing population; and the question of openness of the current innovation platform for innovation and development around other thematic areas than forestry and bio-energy. For instance, bio-economy opportunities in the agri-food sector could be investigated in more detail.

The collaboration with Nordregio and TRIBORN project has provided valuable development information for the bioeconomy sector in North Karelia, as well as comparisons to the sector development in northern Sweden.

Publication Facts

Bioenergy Development in Finland and Sweden: The cases of North Karelia, Jämtland, and Västernorrland

Nordregio Working paper 2017:6

ISBN: 978-91-87295-53-9; ISSN: 1403-2503

Editors: Anna Berlina and Nelli Mikkola with contributions by Karen Refsgaard and Alberto Huerta Morales

Full text available for download: