Ireland’s forestry cover now at 10% of land area

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One in every 10 hectares of land is now planted in forestry, according to the latest figures. The Government’s Forestry Statistics paint a picture of the country’s afforested grounds amid increasing pressure to up volume of lands under trees due to greenhouse gas emissions targets. Despite Ireland falling far short of planting targets, the area of forest is estimated to stand at 731,650ha or 10.5% of the total land area of the country. Around 53% or 389,356ha is in public ownership, mainly Coillte.

The forested area acts as a carbon reservoir, amounting to 381 million tonnes of carbon in 2012 and between 2008 and 2012 it removed 16Mt of CO2 and offset 5% of all national emissions. There have been major concerns raised in western counties, particularly Leitrim, over the level of forestry planting in the region. Farmers account for 83% of private lands afforested between 1980 and 2016, with the average size of private grant-aided plantations around 8.8ha since 1980. It states farmer planting has dominated afforestation since 1993. With farmers and non-farmers now eligible for the same rate of grants and premium payments, the number of non-farmers planting has increased to 35% of the areas afforested in 2016. It points out that ‘non-farmers’ include retired farmers, sons and daughters of farmers and other relatives who may have inherited land.

Forestry and its role in carbon sequestration is an obvious part of any solution to the problem of emissions produced by agriculture. In 2016, Cork had the highest afforestation area at 608ha, followed by Clare at 552ha, Roscommon at 435ha, Leitrim at 434ha and Mayo at 429. There were 34 ‘non-farmers’ who accounted for 254ha in Cork in 2016, while 33 accounted for 238ha in Clare, 26 for 212ha in Cavan and 28 for 195ha in Leitrim. Efforts have been made recently to increase the volume of broadleaves planted by the Agriculture Department, with increased grant incentives, as the forest estate is made up of three quarters conifers and one quarter broadleaves. Sitka spruce is the most common species, accounting for 52% of the forest area. The report warns tree diseases impacting species such as larch and Chalara fraxinea or ash dieback may influence diversity into the future.



You are invited to attend Ireland’s first Student-led Energy Summit

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The event will take place this Thursday at 3pm in the Bailey Allen Hall, NUIG.

You can register for free at

We cannot wait to see you there!!!

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.



Third GREBE Industry Advisory Group meeting in Finland


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.


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




GREBE publishes its seventh project e-zine

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

Since October we have continued to carry out the project activities and meet our objectives. Our 7th partner meeting in Enniskillen was hosted by Fermanagh & Omagh District Council and included a networking event and site visits. The aim was to highlight the benefits of renewable energy for SMEs and start-up businesses, and give participants the opportunity to meet with biomass experts from the Natural Resources Institute in Finland. Details can be found on page 3. A policy workshop was held by the Western Development Commission as part of their Regional Heat Study for the Western Region. Details can be found on page 4.

GREBE’s Funding Options tool has been launched and provides information on the funding mechanisms currently available in the partner regions. More details on this can be found on page 6 and is available at

Another highlight for the GREBE project was the launch of the Renewable Business Portal. The Portal is an online training and networking portal which allows for flexible and easy access to training material and technology transfer information. Details can be found on page 7 and 8 and can be visited at

Our Entrepreneur Enabler Scheme in Northern Ireland is complete and has now been launched in Finland, Scotland and Ireland. Details can be found on page 9. Our e-zine can be downloaded from the GREBE Project website here. This has been a great year as far as achieving our targets are concerned, and we have many more activities lined up for 2018.  We wish you a joyful and peaceful Christmas, and a prosperous New Year.


First Ökofen Pellematic Condens_e CHP-unit in Finland

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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.

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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.