Irelands Renewable Heat Incentive scheme to receive €7m in Budget 2018

naughten-417x235
Minister Denis Naughton

Irelands Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe announced that a total budget of €17 million will go towards the RHI scheme and the encouragement of greater uptake of electric vehicles as part of Ireland’s commitment to its climate change obligations.

€7 million will be allocated for the government’s long-anticipated Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme in 2018. The allocation is lower than predicted by industry representatives, but with applications only expected to open in the second half of 2018, next year will not be a full operational year for the scheme.  The scheme is aimed at encouraging industrial and commercial heat users, in the Republic of Ireland, to switch to greener technologies.  An RHI scheme was first considered as part of the Bioenergy strategy consultation in 2013, and included in the Draft Bioenergy Plan in 2014.

The RHI will support the replacement of fossil fuel heating systems with renewable energy systems – such as biomass boilers. The scheme will present a significant opportunity for the domestic bioenergy sector benefiting farmers, foresters and rural communities.

Further details on the RHI scheme can be found on the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment website http://www.dccae.gov.ie/en-ie/energy/consultations/Pages/Renewable-Heat-Incentive-Consultation.aspx

Advertisements

What is going on in the Arctic?

The Arctic is still a cold place, but it is warming faster than any other region on Earth. Over the past 50 years, the Arctic’s temperature has risen by more than twice the global average. In 2016, the annual mean temperature in Svalbard was 6 degrees higher than normal – so we are already witnessing actual consequences of global warming to Arctic life. These rapid changes have consequences well beyond the Arctic.

NSP 08-09-2017

What Arctic change does to the world

Once Arctic warming gets going, it has two important dynamics with unpredictable effects.

  • As the Arctic warms and sea-ice and snow-cover retracts, this weakens surface reflectivity. The bare ground and open water absorb more heat from the sun and amplify warming further. This feedback is an important reason why the Arctic warms at twice the rate of the global average.
  • The Arctic permafrost is a storehouse for trapped greenhouse-gases such as methane and CO2. When the permafrost is thawing, these greenhouse-gases could be released to the atmosphere, amplifying global warming further. These secondary effects are adding unpredictability. Unpredictability in terms of consequences – but also unpredictability in terms of the pace of climate change. As we know, unpredictability means enhanced risks.

Arctic warming is accelerating

A new scientific assessment of climate change in the Arctic, by the Arctic Council’s Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), concludes that the Arctic is now shifting — rapidly and in unexpected ways — into a new state.

If we allow current trends to continue, they will have profound and accelerated impacts on ecosystems, human health and safety, industries and economies around the world. Certainly, this will also influence our security environment. Recent research indicates that this could increase risk levels not only in the Arctic, but in regions very far from the Arctic areas. This is due to the climate system – It is highly interconnected on the global scale. The Arctic region acts as a global cooling system by drawing warm ocean water from the south and cooling it down. This movement of warmer ocean waters to the north has a major influence on climate outside the Arctic; it accounts for northern Europe’s relatively mild climate, and it keeps the Tropics cooler than they would otherwise be.

The rapid melting of Arctic ice and snow is likely to weaken this global cooling system, amplifying global warming, and intensifying its consequences throughout the world.

Artic warming will amplify security risks

So while global warming is a multiplier of existing security risks and threats, the Arctic is an amplifier of global warming. Indirectly, a warmer Arctic will indeed also amplify security risks worldwide. We are seeing, and will see ever more extreme weather events. We are seeing more stress on critical ecosystems, including oceans, freshwater, and biodiversity. These changes, in turn, will have direct and indirect social, economic, political, and security effects.

Extreme weather can trigger crop failures, wildfires, energy blackouts, infrastructure breakdown, supply-chain breakdowns, migration, and infectious disease outbreaks. We can expect climate change to exacerbate current conditions: making hot, dry places hotter and drier, for example. Over the longer term, global climate change will change how and where people live, where they can produce food, as well as the diseases they face.

Science is increasingly concerned that more sudden, dramatic shifts could be possible. Such shifts in the climate or climate-linked ecosystems could have dramatic economic and ecological consequences.

Accelerated climate change

Accelerated climate change, therefore, is not only a significant risk factor in its own right – it is a factor that can interplay with and magnify other risk factors: economic, technological and demographic.

  • Economic risk – The globalised economy, the risks to free trade and the global economy are real.

The physical risks that arise from the increased frequency and severity of climate- and weather-related events that damage property and disrupt trade. The liability risks – the risks posed to companies business models by climate change. The transition risks which could result from the adjustment towards a lower-carbon economy. Changes in policy, technology and physical risks could prompt a reassessment of the value of a large range of assets. Just as we can have climate shocks and technological disruptions, we may also have “policy shocks” in response to dramatic climate events.

  • Technology induced risks – Combatting climate change will require faster technological change.

Technology is accelerating the pace of change around us, and in the process it is triggering new complex challenges, disruptions and tensions.

  • Demographic risks – Risks associated with demographic shifts.

Urbanization is a welcome trend in terms of more climate friendly living with regard to housing, transport systems and other public infrastructure. At the same time, with more extreme weather events, rising sea levels and pressure on critical infrastructure, urban centres are increasingly vulnerable.

Climate action is of high strategic importance

Climate change is a security challenge, and hence climate policy is of high strategic importance. The work in the GREBE project workpackage 4 is a small contribution to the strategic work on climate policy and security challenges – with a practical focus on business strategy models.

Climate policy matters!

The climate affected economy in the NPA-Regions

The second report from Work Package 4 in the GREBE Project was presented at the GREBE partnership meeting in Narvik this week. The results from the survey shows that the extreme climate has an affect on the economy and the financial outcome for businesses in NPA GREBE partner regions. Impacts of extreme weather / weather events on infrastructure is estimated to cost around €11 million only in Norway. This will give an estimated cost for the 6 NPA regions included in the GREBE project a weather dependent cost for the SMEs of approximately €60 – 80 million each year.

4.2 report cover 2

GREBEs Report on the Influence of Environmental Conditions in NPA and Arctic Regions and the next steps

Rural businesses in the energy sector as well as other sectors provide an important liveihood in the northern peripheral areas of Europe. The harsh climatic conditions experienced in many NPA regions, particularly high north and arctic regions, present significant challenges to SMEs and start-ups that can seriously impact on the viability of their businesses. In the Report on the Influence of Environmental Conditions in NPA and Arctic Regions there was findings that indicate that there exists significant climate challenges in the partner regions with different types of harsh weather. Low temperature, hard winds, and rain / snow conditions can be extreme in the NPA regions.

In the GREBE Report on Innovations from Local Technology and Business Solutions the question is: How do businesses located in these areas compensate or cope with unforeseen climate change effects?

What is extreme weather?

An extreme weather occurrence can be defined in different ways and the metrological institutes in each GREBE partner region have their definition made to optimize the specific conditions in each region. A broad institutional indication is often presented when life and values may be lost caused by the extreme weather condition. However, in this report the definition used is:

“Extreme weather conditions are weather that most likely provide problems for people, business and infrastructure”. 

“Local extreme weather” is the weather impact on societal infrastructure in the different NPA regions and is considered to affect the business activities. The phenomenon of “local extreme weather” is serious for the single business when it occurs and may have serious consequences for a business competing in an open market.

NSP 21-06-2017

Climate effects on society and business:

The impact of “local extreme weather” is considered manageable and moderate in most of the northern EU regions, and structural activities that can minimize the negative effects of harsh weather on small, rural energy companies:

  1. Regional cooperation – The diverse geographical areas of northern Europe, are experiencing a number of joint challenges in relation to location, but also possible opportunities that can be overcome and realized by regional cooperation. The experience from each region may be introduced to other Northern European areas and innovations from different parts in society can be used to create specific growth initiatives and common efficient business opportunities of the European Northern and Arctic regions in a climate efficient way. One major impact of challenges and initiatives in business operations is the influence of weather conditions on society and in the extension of SME business operations and productivity located in these areas.
  2. Strategic handling – Today, many operators in society refer to weather as a restriction in budget and argue that it is a phenomenon that has an actual impact on business. However, the weather can be a strong benefit for the business when an updated insight into the specific local conditions is available and by using a strategic handling document based upon regional knowledge and experience from other businesses. Even national weather organizations are today providing companies this service.
  3. Variety of weather – The final implication is that a change in weather pattern will result in a variety of weather phenomenon that can affect the NPA regions in a different matter. There are different effects on the society, depending upon the specific region, i.e. flooding, wind, and disturbance on roads by fallen trees or avalanche.

Results from the GREBE survey

As part of the GREBE Report on Innovations from Local Technology and Business Solutions, it was found that SMEs compensate for weather constraints and disruptions by:

  • Timing, operational planning and using experienced contractors
  • Compensating investments in fertiliser storage capacities
  • Avoiding challenging times in transportations (thaws)
  • Planning in construction phase (needed insulations) for arctic conditions
  • During processes by preventing freezing (heating, antifreezes)

 Business strategy – A minimal planning strategy for weather related disturbance in business are generally lacking both in long and in short seasonal terms. The absence of business strategies tends to characterise SMEs in rural GREBE regions both in limited financial contingency as well as in maintaining physical systems and services.

There are some cost related economic factors that will affect the small business in a rural areas of Northern Europe and it may be time to consider a new weather and climate economy that compensates the businesses that are fighting against the nature and experience higher costs in their energy operations. These companies are strategically located in rural areas which require entrepreneurs, employments opportunities and an innovative environment.

The full Report on Innovations from Local Technology and Business Solutions can be downloaded from the GREBE website HERE

Key researchers unanimous on the climate impacts of forests use

Finnish climate change panel

“Key researchers unanimous on the climate impacts of forests use”

(Press release of the Finnish Climate Change Panel)

Decision-makers, the media and the public have felt that there are contradictory messages on the climate impacts of the forest use. A new report by the Finnish Climate Change Panel illustrates that key Finnish researchers specialising in forestry are quite unanimous on the central claims related to the sustainability of bioeconomy. Discourse between researchers, decision-makers and enterprises, and the related advanced analyses are still necessary for creating a sustainable bioeconomy.

The Finnish Climate Change Panel surveyed researchers’ insights on the climate change impacts of forest use. Responses were assessed and processed by 28 researchers from the University of Helsinki, the Finnish Meteorological Institute, the University of Eastern Finland, the University of Jyväskylä, the Finnish Environment Institute and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. The process included a joint seminar, two enquiry rounds related to claims, and approval of the document.

The main claims approved by researchers:

  • It is possible to increase wood production with forest management, but it is not possible to significantly increase the net growth of stem wood in the next decades. A significant increase can only be expected in the 2050s and after.
  • Increasing logging and wood harvesting will decrease the carbon sink and carbon storage of Finnish forests for at least forthcoming decades compared to a situation where harvesting is not increased.
  • The greatest climate benefit of wood use can be achieved with long-lasting wood-based products that preserve the carbon content of the wood in use for a long time and replace products that have a high-emission life cycle impact.
  • In the long term, replacing fossil fuels with forest energy will create climate benefits if fossil fuels are permanently replaced, forest lands are maintained and the growth of forests remains unchanged or increases in the future.
  • The model calculations representing the future development of Finnish forests produced to aid political decision-making should be completed with information such as analyses describing the different projected paths of climate change.
  • The goals set for the different ways of using forests – such as wood production, carbon sequestration, conservation and recreational use – compete with each other, so it is unlikely that these goals will be reached simultaneously.
  • A significant increase in forest harvests may lead to a clear deterioration of the forest biodiversity unless the matter is taken into account sufficiently with the practices of forest management and the forest conservation network.

According to the Climate Change Panel, the result provides a good basis for national and international discussion on the role of Nordic forests in EU policy on climate and bioeconomy. The climate-smart use of forests is an important part of creating a low-carbon economy. So that the path will be consistent and sustainable, bioeconomy decisions must be based on scientific data.” (Luke News)

The Original news article can be found from Luke´s news section under:

https://www.luke.fi/en/news/key-researchers-unanimous-climate-impacts-forests-use/

The link to the report “Main Messages from researchers concerning the climate impacts of forest utilization” can be found here: http://www.ilmastopaneeli.fi/uploads/selvitykset_lausunnot/Ilmastopaneeli_mets%C3%A4v%C3%A4itt%C3%A4m%C3%A4t_final_englanniksi_%202017.pdf

 

Landsvirkjun sees potentials in Windmill Park in Iceland

Iceland wind

On Landsvirkjun’s (The National Power Company of Iceland) promotional meeting they announced their will to develop further ideas about founding windmill parks in Iceland. Althingi (The National Parliament) has one area for those parks on a waiting list within a Master Plan for Nature Protection and Energy Utilization which was accepted 14th of January 2013. Another area, Blönd­u­lund­ur is again on a utilization list within the Master Plan mentioned above.

Hörður Arnarson the CEO of Landsvirkjun is of the opinion that electricity from wind could easily become the third electricity source that adds to hydro and geothermal heat. He claims that on Iceland the conditions for utilizing wind is in highest category worldwide when it comes to utilizing each windmill. Today the utilizing rate is 50% in Iceland as for only 28% globally.

Furthermore Hörður states production price is decreasing and costs parallel to geothermal heat.

As mentioned above there are certain hindrance when it comes to places. Blöndulundur for example has negative aspects as the transport route of power therefrom is quite limited and adding the third power plant there would call for further reinforcement of the transport route.

Great contribution to the climate issues

Hörður would be interested in installing 50 windmill park in Iceland with the power of 10-20 Megawatt each. The big issue today is the visual part according to Hörður. Both windmills and power lines are more visual than for example Hydro Power plants which are more adapted to nature.

Finally, Hörður talks about the future in solar and wind power. Both of these sources of power is well applicable today as the technique has gone through huge development as can be seen in many places globally, where these power sources are the most inexpensive ones.

Derived from mbl.is 7th march 2017

http://www.mbl.is/vidskipti/frettir/2017/03/01/landsvirkjun_horfir_enn_til_vindorku/

Scotland sets 50% renewable energy target

eri-image-1

The Scottish Government has followed a world leading climate change target of cutting 66% of emissions by 2020 with a hugely ambitious renewable energy target – that 50% of all energy will be met by renewables by 2030.

The announcement was made at the end of January with the launch of the draft Scottish Energy strategy that aims to build on the strengths of the Scottish renewable energy sector and reduce emissions for 2050.

Paul Wheelhouse, the Energy Minister, has said that he hopes the “document stimulates debate about the energy challenges in Scotland and the policies needed to meet the aspirations of the people of Scotland to deliver a secure, sustainable energy future for all, in the best interests of our communities, economy and environment.”

The draft plan has a number of proposals such as a Scottish government-owned energy company with responsibility for helping local and community energy projects grow. It also sets out the ambition that Scotland will become the first place in the UK where onshore wind can thrive without subsidy.

Scottish Renewables, the representative body of the Scottish renewable sector, said the proposals are a “landmark moment in Scotland’s transition to a low-carbon economy”.

Jenny Hogan, director of policy at Scottish Renewables, said: “The new draft strategy shows that Scotland is serious about building on the fantastic progress made in renewable power over the past decade and maintaining our position as a global leader in green energy.

“Setting a new target for renewables to deliver half of our energy needs by 2030 sends a strong signal that renewable energy will be at the heart of Scotland’s economy and is key to meeting our climate change targets at lowest cost.

The strategy sets out a “renewed focus” on stalled efforts for energy efficiency with the hugely ambitious target of making Scotland’s buildings near zero carbon by 2050. It also seeks out views on alternative financial models for supporting low carbon technologies and services such as green bonds.

The Scottish Government has been proud of its progress but now looks at addressing challenging areas with this draft Energy Plan such as low-carbon heat, and transport. Opposition parties have welcomed the commitment but have stated that the challenge is in the implementation of energy policy.

Winter climate change might have a negative effect on forest growth and productivity

luke-08-12-2016

“According to an experiment conducted in Luke, denser snowpack or lack of snow cover due to warmer winters could have a major impact on forest ecosystems. Winter climate change might have a negative effect on forest growth and productivity that could partially counteract the positive growth effects predicted due to increasing summer time temperatures.

Winter warming is expected to affect snow cover in boreal forests by increasing ground ice encasement, snow compaction or even events of complete lack of snow cover. Of these predicted changes ice encasement appeared to be the most harmful winter conditions to Scots pine and Norway spruce seedlings. These effects could influence forest regeneration with important implications for boreal forest ecology and the associated economy such as forest regeneration costs. (…)” (Luke News)

The Original news article can be found from the news section of GREBE partner Luke under:

https://www.luke.fi/en/news/winter-climate-change-might-have-a-negative-effect-on-forest-growth-and-productivity/

From the GREBE perspective, the GREBE project is looking at the Influence of Environmental Conditions in NPA & Arctic Regions, a recent report can be found from the project´s website:

http://grebeproject.eu/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/GREBE-Report-on-the-Influence-of-Environmental-Conditions-in-NPA-Arctic-Regions.pdf