Impacts of the Eno Energy Cooperative on the regional economy in 2000-2015

Eno

Eno Energy cooperative is an internationally acknowledged example of heat entrepreneurship based on a cooperative model. Substituting fossil fuel oil with locally produced woodchips in community heating since the year 2000 has resulted in significant socio-economic benefits. Latest research by GREBE partners Karelia UAS and LUKE outlines these through a time-series analysis.

The Eno Energy Cooperative operates and owns three district heating plants producing 15,500 MWh of heat annually and uses approximately 27,000 loose cubic metres of locally produced woodchips.  The impacts of the Eno Energy Cooperative were modelled by using an input-output model of North-Karelia, including 33 sectors. The impacts presented are total impacts including construction of heating plants in 2000-2004, production of heat by using locally produced woodchips, and impacts of reduced heating costs (savings) in both public and private sectors. Induced impacts are captured by including household consumption as a sector in the I-O model, and re-investing public sector savings to the social services.

According to the I-O modelling, total employment impacts of the Eno Energy Cooperative in 2000-2015 were approximately 160 FTE’s and total income impact in same period were approximately 6.6 MEUR. During the period of highest oil prices, over 50% of the benefits resulted from heating cost savings of both private households and public sector.

The results indicate that socio-economic impacts may be generated by using different types of strategies, such as utilising business models of social enterprises with re-investment strategies, or cooperatives providing use for the local resources and reducing the energy costs both in private and public sectors.

Currently, Eno Energy Cooperative are participating in the GREBE Entrepreneurship Enabler Scheme (EES) roll-out in North Karelia. They are investigating future business and cooperation opportunities together with business a mentor from Spiralia Ltd., Lahti.

Fig1

Figure1: Employment impacts (FTE jobs) of Eno Energy Cooperative in 2000-2015, including impacts of construction, heat production and heating cost savings (when re-invested).

Fig2

Figure2: Income impacts of Eno Energy Cooperative in 2000-2015, including impacts of construction, heat production and heating cost savings (when re-invested).

 

 

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Proactive integration of environmental protection and renewable development

There is often seen to be a conflict between conservation charities and renewable developers. In the UK the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is often perceived as one of the more vocal of these charities, with wind farms and associated bird displacement and strikes being one of the most of controversial issues.

However, in a newly released report “The RSPB’s 2050 energy vision” UK wide spatial analysis is undertaken, proactively identifying sites for renewable development which would have a low ecological impact (see Figure 1).

ERI image v2

Figure 1. Indicative areas of opportunity for the deployment of renewable technologies in the UK with low/unknown ecological sensitivity, taking into account physical constraints, policy constraints and areas of high/medium ecological sensitivity. Image taken from The RSPB’s 2050 Energy Vision.

The report raises three key points for renewable energy in Scotland:

  • Onshore wind, which has already shown strong progress in Scotland, could continue to develop in harmony with nature. Up to 41 TWh/year could be generated if carefully planned, more than trebling generation from 2014 levels. Repowering existing well planned sites may be an opportunity to increase capacity at low ecological impact.
  • There is very limited capacity for fixed offshore wind (up to 2.3 GW installed capacity) in shallow waters without significant risks to wildlife, unless knowledge of impacts improves, enabling ecologically sustainable development. In the long term, however, there is vast potential for floating wind in deeper waters.
  • There are also large areas potentially suitable for wave energy generation at low ecological risk, if the industry is supported to enable commercialisation.

Additionally, the report suggests Scotland could increase its solar production to 30 times its current level. However, the low power density of this resource in Scotland, coupled with large reductions in subsidy levels, means exploitation on this scale is unlikely.

Overall, the report has been well received by the renewable industry in Scotland, with Scottish Renewables (the representative body of the Scottish renewable energy industry) describing it as “positive”. Lindsay Roberts, senior policy manager at Scottish Renewables describes the research as clearly showing: “that meeting our renewable energy targets and protecting our natural environment can go hand-in-hand.”

Such studies pre-emptively identifying areas which are environmentally unsuitable for renewables should help streamline the consenting process; with opposition on environmental grounds being decreased, reducing time and costs for developers. As such initiatives like this should be encouraged; however, the findings should be treated with caution. In this instance the huge reliance on floating offshore wind to create large headline figures should be noted; floating offshore wind accounts for ~90% of the resource identified. Such heavily reliance on floating wind should be treated with caution as although it certainly has huge potential the development of the world’s first commercial site is only just beginning Scotland. So as always, particularly on a 2050 timeframe, studies should be treated with scepticism but this study is certainly a proactive step forward in the relationship between one of the UK’s major conservation charities and the renewable sector.

For greater details on the report visit: http://www.rspb.org.uk/whatwedo/projects/details.aspx?id=350939