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

GalwayEnergy SummitPic2

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.

€120billion geothermal project in Europe


On 28th of January 2018 in Brussels at an EU steering committee meeting on energy technique of the future, SETPLAN, Guðni A. Jóhannesson general director of energy reported on a plan on deployment of geothermal heat for heating and electric production in Europe. Iceland is a member in SETPLAN cooperation on the grounds of EEA cooperation.

A workgroup under supervision of Guðni and other colleagues have been working on various topics e.g. technical matters, highlights and projects that need to be fulfilled under strict rules of the steering committee set in the beginning of the project. Matters that need to be covered are e.g. utilization of geothermal heat, improve the competitiveness and minimize costs regarding exclusive factors of geothermal heat production.

The SETPLAN committee approved the plan from the workgroup and to finance research and development projects within the geothermal fields with 940 billion euro. The financing comes from the partner countries, from EU funds and the industry. The first cooperation project has begun, GEOTHERMICA, and applications thereunder could lead to 60 billion euro projects. Orkustofnun (National Energy Authority) leads the project from Iceland; other partners are also RANNÍS (The Icelandic Centre for Research) which runs the application process. GEORG runs the office of the project and daily operations.


South West College announces plans for new £29m build


South West College has unveiled plans for its £29 million new build which gets underway in March. Tracey Brothers has been appointed as the main contractor for the construction and development of the new Erne Campus which will be situated on the site of the former Erne Hospital in Enniskillen.

The new campus, which has been designed by Hamilton Architects, will see the delivery of the first educational building worldwide to achieve the highest international standard in environmental construction, PassivHaus Premium. Construction of the 8,200m2 building is scheduled to begin in two months and will provide employment for over 200 people including a number of apprenticeship opportunities.

A spokeswoman for South West College said the building, which is due to be completed in January 2020, will “further enhance the College’s existing global reputation in the sustainable construction sector and will be used to attract international companies and students in this field.”


Building a Hydrogen Economy for Orkney

ERI - Orkney

The Environmental Research Institute of the University of the Highlands and Islands, in conjunction with the European Marine Energy Centre and Action Renewables, organised a workshop on the 1st February 2018 in Kirkwall City Hall. Hydrogen is now an integral component of the Scottish Government’s Energy Strategy, and the work which Orkney (along with many others) has undertaken in recent years has helped to inform and shape this strategy. Hydrogen has real potential to make a transformation to the energy system in Orkney.

The workshop consisted of two parts. The first began with an introduction to the GREBE project by Michael Doran, the Managing Director of Action Renewable and the objectives of the workshop, presented by Jon Clipsham, the Hydrogen Development Manager at EMEC. They were then followed by the presentations below:

  • “Orkney’s Energy System”, by Neil Kermode, the Managing Director of EMEC.
  • “Orkney Council hydrogen strategy and current projects update”, by Adele Lidderdale, the Hydrogen Project Officer at Orkney Islands Council.
  • “Orkney Energy Audit and the place for hydrogen”, presented by Ian Johnstone, representing both Aquatera and the Orkney Renewable Energy Forum.
  • “Hydrogen production / vehicles / refuelling stations”, by Guy Verkoeyen from Belgium, representing Hydrogenics.
  • “Hydrogen for domestic use / CHP units”, presented by Bill Ireland, Managing Director at Logan Energy.

The second part of the workshop was more practical. The first part of it was led by Jon Clipsham where delegates were divided into groups, and asked to discuss and come up with the top five key priorities for the future development of Orkney’s hydrogen future. The second part of the workshop was led by Michael Doran and delegates discussed how the Orkney Hydrogen Model can be replicated in other NPA Regions.

This workshop had the following aims:

  • to inform delegates about Orkney’s progress with hydrogen technologies to date
  • to share information on the current projects and opportunities
  • to discuss the next steps which we can take to replicate the model in other NPA Regions.

It was astonishing to see all the relevant stakeholders, important for the further development of Orkney’s Hydrogen Economy, gathered in one room, participating in an open discussion and displaying a willingness to work together.

Iceland’s new government puts environmental issues and global warming at the forefront


A new government was formed in Iceland on the 30th of November after an election in October. The Left Green movement, the independence Party and the Progressive Party joined forces and formed a government. Katrín Jakobsdóttir, chairman of the Leftist-Green Movement is Iceland’s new Prime Minister, making her the second woman to hold that position in Iceland, as well as the first ever socialist leader in the country.

In the government agreement are the environmental issues and global warming at the forefront. Iceland is guided by the goal of the Paris Agreement of 2015 to limit the average increase in temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere to 1.5°C from the reference level. The main aim of the government’s climate policy is to avoid negative effects of climate change on marine life. In no other part of the world has the temperature risen as much as it has in the Arctic. Thus, it is incumbent upon Iceland to conduct more extensive studies of acidification of the ocean in collaboration with the academic community and the fishing industry. Iceland is moreover bound to achieve a 40% reduction in emissions of greenhouse gases, based on the 1990 level, by 2030.

It is the government’s wish to go further than is envisaged in the Paris Agreement and to aim to have a carbon-neutral Iceland by 2040 at the latest. The aim is to achieve this by making a permanent reduction in greenhouse-gas emissions and also through changes in land use in accordance with internationally recognized standards and by incorporating approaches that take account of the local ecology and planning considerations. Support will be given to industrial sectors, individual enterprises, institutions and local authorities in their attempt to set themselves targets pertaining to climate-change.

The government aims to have all major public projects assessed in terms of their impact on the climate-policy targets. Concessions for new investment projects will be subject to the condition that the projects have been assessed in terms of their impact on climate and how they conform to Iceland’s international undertakings regarding reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions. Emphasis will be placed on involving all players in society, and the general public, in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, and support will be given to innovation in this sphere. A climate council will be established and a plan of action on emission reductions will be drawn up, with a time-scale, and financed.

The plan of action will include targets regarding transport and the proportion of vehicles powered by environmentally friendly fuels in the total number of vehicles in Iceland, utilization 22 — levels of fuel and power in business and industry, the introduction of international conventions on the protection of the oceans, ‘green steps’ in state operations and a Climate Fund, and moves will be made to prohibit the use of heavy oil in vessels within Iceland’s economic zone. Collaboration will be established with sheep farmers on neutralizing the carbon emissions from sheep farming in accordance with a plan of action. Other production sectors will also be invited to collaborate on comparable projects.