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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Renewable Energy Technology Development: Short Term Policy Recommendations for Nordic Countries

nsp-26-01-2017

There is a clear technological and economical pathway for the Nordic region to push towards a more near carbon-neutral energy system in 2050. The Nordic countries want to send a strong signal to the global community that the ambitious aims of the Paris Climate Agreement are achievable. This is the conclusion from the; Nordic Energy Technology Perspectives Report 2016 – from The International Energy Agency and Nordic Energy Research.

The ambitious pathway outlined by the Nordic countries, who specifically wants to act in four key areas:

  1. Strengthen incentives for investment and innovations in energy technologies.
  2. Boost European cooperation on grid infrastructure and electricity markets.
  3. Reduce process-related emissions in industry
  4. Accelerate transport decarbonisation

 

1.Strengthen incentives for investment and innovation in energy technologies.

The Renewable Energy Policy should accelerate the  roll-out of key flexibility technologies and  incentivise their utilisation for flexibility through market mechanisms and regulation. Markets must also adequately compensate flexibility services such as demand response in industry and  buildings, as well as the flexible operation of small power plants. Information technology (IT) infrastructure (smart meters) and IT platforms (consumer Apps or control systems) will be important  in achieving a rapid penetration of these flexibility services.

2. Boost European cooperation on grid infrastructure and electricity markets.

Coordinated effort to strengthen domestic grids and install new transmission lines is needed to  establish the future Nordic and European electricity system (‘The Green Battery Strategy’).  Regional collaboration on infrastructure planning is needed to ensure optimal investments and avoid bottle-necks in the grid. Coordination among Nordic governments is vital to ensure that policy accelerates  technological and regulatory progress in order to reduce total costs. Cooperation in reforming the common Nordic electricity market to allow greater flexibility and accommodate higher shares of variable renewables will also be important.

3. Reduce process-related emissions in industry.

The Renewable Energy Policy should take steps to ensure long-term competitiveness of Nordic industry while reducing process-related emissions. More variable and potentially higher electricity prices will put additional pressure on energy-intensive industry in the Nordic region, stressing the need to step up low-carbon industrial innovation. Governments should act to reduce the risk of such investment and use public funding to unlock private finance in areas with significant emission reduction potential.

4. Accelerate transport decarbonisation.

Even as Nordic countries pursue different technology strategies in parallel, they should not wait to draw on  the wide range of available policy instruments to stimulate fuel efficiency, low carbon technologies and shifts to more efficient transport modes. Governments should build upon positive experiences with measures such as congestion charging in urban settings, differentiated vehicle registration taxes, bonus-malus regimes, and altered parking fees, while also stepping up investments in infrastructure  for cycling, public transport and rail. Policies should also incentivise modal shifts from road freight to sea and rail, and from cars to public transport and cycling.

Nordic and European collaboration on energy policy can play a role to reach the ambitious aims of the Paris Climate Agreement.