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

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The event will take place this Thursday at 3pm in the Bailey Allen Hall, NUIG.

You can register for free at www.galwayenergysummit.ie

We cannot wait to see you there!!!

Land competition between biogas plants and farmers

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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.

Source: https://www.farmersjournal.ie/land-competition-between-biogas-plants-and-farmers-343219

€120billion geothermal project in Europe

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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.

Source: https://orkustofnun.is/orkustofnun/frettir/nr/1912

The third energy market package agreed between EU and EEA/EFTA states

The Third Energy Market Package – EU energy market rules, were incorporated into the EEA/EFTA Agreement last week. Norway and the EU are closely connected through the energy market – by including the Third Energy Market Package into the EEA/EFTA Agreement, Norwegian actors are secured access to the EU-market. 

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The aim of the Third Energy Package is to improve the functioning of the Internal Energy Market. The package separates energy supply and generation from the operation of transmission networks, and strengthens the independence and cooperation of energy regulators. It also covers cross-border cooperation between transmission system operators and increases transparency in retail markets to benefit consumers. The Joint Committee Decision (JCD) contains substantial adaptations necessary for the participation of the EEA EFTA States in the Internal Energy Market. The approval of the Third Energy Package – by both sides – is the result of constructive discussions between the EU and the EEA EFTA States.

25th anniversary – The EEA Joint Committee provides a forum for the EEA EFTA States and the EU to exchange views and take decisions by consensus to incorporate EU legislation into the EEA Agreement. The meetings last week marks the 25th anniversary of the signing of the EEA Agreement since the first one in Porto, Portugal. The Agreement brings together the EU and EEA EFTA States in a Single Market, ensuring legal homogeneity. Since its entry into force in 1994, a lot of  acts have been incorporated.

EEA – The European Economic Area (EEA) brings together the EU Member States and three of the EFTA States (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). It was established by the EEA Agreement, an international agreement which enables these three EFTA States to participate fully in the Single Market. The objective of the EEA Agreement is to create a homogenous European Economic Area. All relevant EU legislation in the field of the Single Market is integrated into the EEA Agreement so that it applies throughout the whole of the EEA, ensuring uniform application of laws relating to the Single Market.

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Renewable energy sector – The Third Energy Package Agreement between EEA/EFTA and EU is also of importance for the renewable sector in Norway – this means that there will be a close connection to the EU renewable energy market.