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.

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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

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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

Bioenergy 2017 – The IrBEA National Bioenergy Conference – 9th February 2017

irbea-2017-conference

2017 will be a pivotal year for Ireland’s energy policy; the industry expects clarity by then for roll-out of a Renewable Heat Incentive.  It’s agreed that we need to move towards clean technologies, currently in Ireland we have a renewable market share of 8.7% – Bioenergy contributed to 2% of this. It’s imperative that the Irish government builds an energy policy that allow for greater growth in the Bioenergy sector – this will be under discussion at the IrBEA National Bioenergy Conference.

IrBEA will again have a strong line up of speakers, both international and national, presenting industry models, policy perspectives and investment opportunities to stimulate lively discussion and strong media coverage.  Speakers will discuss their experiences of working in Ireland with the current energy policy framework.  A full agenda for the conference can be downloaded here

Recent budget spending announcements will also be discussed, how would we like to see the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE) spend their extra €50m budget or the capital spend of €90m on climate change actions which was announced.

The conference will give delegates and exhibitors an opportunity to network. IrBEA also plan to organise a network dinner after the event around 6.00pm. Organisations interested in sponsoring elements of the conference (whole or parts of) are asked to contact Teresa O’Brien contact@irbea.ie

Register here for Bioenergy 2017

GREBE Report on the Influence of Environmental Conditions in NPA & Arctic Regions

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Global climate change impacts Europe in many ways, including: changes in average and extreme temperature and precipitation, warmer oceans, rising sea level and shrinking snow and ice cover on land and at sea. These weather phenomenons have led to a range of impacts on ecosystems, socio-economic sectors and human health and safety. There is no doubt that the changes in climate will have a strong impact in our daily life, whether we accept extreme weather conditions as a new phenomenon or not. Adaptation to the past history data, present observed and future predicted impacts will in the coming decades be needed, as well as be complementary to global climate mitigation actions. Narvik Science Park has made a report on this in the GREBE-Project.

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Background

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. Winter storms regularly occurring in the high north, known as polar lows or arctic weather fronts, can bring about sudden and extreme drops in temperatures, with debilitating ice and snow conditions developing quickly. Also, in the North West Europe the influence from the North Atlantic Oscillation give rise to storms, resulting in high winds and precipitations. These conditions frequently give rise to unsafe working conditions and suspension of business operations, particular in the case of technology installations. Operational environments in these areas are often vulnerable irrespective of climatic conditions, given their isolated, remote locations, far away from technical maintenance staff, and which are often difficult to access by road, air or sea. Businesses located in these areas must compensate for fragile and less robust parameters, in order to cope with unforeseen sudden disturbances (for instance, climate change effects).

There are 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. The question is – how to find the best process conditions for business in remote NPA communities, where knowledge transfer is an important aspect. A harsh local/regional climate, sparsely populated areas together with rural geographic related issues and poor infrastructure have a tendency to bias the company’s business models.

Effects on GREBE regions in Northern Europe

Findings from the work of NSP – In the northeastern part of Europe there is a high societal disturbance caused by wind, rain and in some sense also freezing rain. Since the occurrence of harsh weather conditions are not frequent, the effect will be more palpable. In comparison the norther part of Europe, i.e. Iceland has a frequent presence of high wind conditions that in this case will be more of a “normal” continuous state in daily weather.  In the northeast coastal regions of Europe, the weather is more unpredictable with suddenly arising storms, i.e. polar lows, delivering both rain/snow and windy conditions. In the mainland northeast regions there are precipitation and in conjunction with this often cold climate.

“Local extreme weather” – The weather impact on societal infrastructure in the different NPA regions is considered to be affecting the business activities. The phenomenon of “local extreme weather” is serious for the single business when affects and may have serious consequences to compete in an open market. The trends in towards more local extreme weather is indicating the following spread in northern Europe:

  • Ireland/Northern-Ireland – Wind & Storms
  • Scotland – Rain & Wind
  • Iceland – Wind & Cold
  • Norway – Snow & Cold
  • Finland – Ice & Snow

The economic outcome is then a vulnerable factor in these NPA regions that gives a negative bias for local business and a non-favorable competitive disadvantage compared to similar businesses in other EU regions.

The Regional readiness

The readiness from the society to handle harsh weather and local “extreme” conditions varies from country to country in northern Europe. The regional readiness in local “extreme weather conditions” should be an important measure when establishing new enterprises and a serious risk analysis should be made before each activity starts, by taken in account the possibility for weather disturbance. Based upon the description below from each GREBE partner region, an indicative regional or even local perception has to be defined. The overall measure that indicates some connection between local “extreme weather frequency” and a corresponding indication of society readiness can be of great value. This opens for a discussion and action plans or even a business strategy plan, concerning suddenly weather extremes that are changing in a fast manner, like for example in frequency and behavior. This will also reflect the current climate change in coherence with business activities that we are experiencing and specifically when it is expected to make the biggest noticeable effect on the environment in the Arctic and sub-arctic regions. The regional readiness in society is of great importance when considering time loss of energy, restriction in transportations or not operational production.

However, the impact of “local extreme weather” is considered manageable and moderate in most of the northern EU regions. The frequency of these weather phenomenons can be severe when an indirect impact occurs, e.g. avalanches, coldness, strong winds and flooding will also in the future cause disturbances in the society. These occurrences mainly affect the accessibility to production plants and the mobility of staff. Nevertheless, there is always a high risk that the safety aspect will in each situation not be fully understood. The “local extreme weather” is always important to relate to for both personnel and business operations.

Conclusions –  climate effects on society business

  1. Regional cooperation – The widely spread geographical areas of northern Europe, is experiencing a number of joint challenges in relation to its 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 also 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 actuable 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 and avalanche.

You can download the report from the GREBE Project website:

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