Engineer Forum (Inssiforum) 2017 in Lahti, Finland

Karelia UAS 27-03-2017
A vision for development of bioeconomy engineer studies, Tapani Poykky (HAMK)

Lahti University of Applied Sciences organised the Engineer Forum 2017 in March 22nd-23rd at Sibelius Hall, Congress and Concert Centre. The annual event of engineer education organisations, engineers, industry and other stakeholder partners is this year among official Finland 100 year events.

The GREBE partner, Karelia UAS was responsible for organising the bioeconomy themed parallel session at the event. The session had focus on the impacts of the bioeconomy and bioenergy at the regional and local economy, and training and expertise development opportunities. About 30 attendants in the session discussed on the ways to promote bioenergy at the local level – topic introduced by the Karelia UAS lecturer and GREBE partner Lasse Okkonen and Admin Manager Urpo Hassinen from the Eno Energy Cooperative.

The latest development of the bioeconomy specialization studies was presented by Tapani Pöykkö, ‎Director of Regional Development in Bioeconomy and Natural Resources at Häme University of Applied Sciences, HAMK.  The approach he presented for the Bioeconomy Engineer studies was multi-disciplinary and knowledge-based. The open UAS studies in bioeconomy were presented by lecturer Anne Poutiainen, Karelia UAS, followed by engineer student Katja Keronen describing her expectations for future career in this field.

GREBE identifies technologies which can be transferred from areas of best practice to areas where renewable energy uptake is low

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The Northern Periphery & Arctic (NPA) Programme area is undoubtedly rich in many renewable energy resources. However the form and extent of these resources vary considerably throughout the region. While these differences may be clear at national levels they also exist at more local levels as well and, as a result, areas within the NPA region will have very different technological requirements for the effective utilisation of renewable energy resources.  The aim of Work Package 5 is to link the appropriate renewable energy technologies to the available resources and corresponding demand, for every partner region participating in the GREBE.  This work package is led by Scotlands Environmental Research Institute (ERI), which is part of the University of Highlands & Islands.

The first step towards successful achievement of the objective was the 5.1 “Report identifying technologies which can be transferred from areas of best practice to areas where renewable energy uptake is low”.  This report lays the foundation for linking the appropriate renewable energy (RE) technology to the specific locality, through careful analysis of the input provided by partner regions, together with, identification of similarities and transferable solutions from one partner to another.

The main aim of this report is to inform the other activities in this work package by identifying key areas and technologies with the potential to generate new business models, in areas where renewable energy is less developed.    The report wishes to establish transferability of renewable energy technologies from areas of best practice to areas where RE uptake is low.  In order to ensure the appropriate level of coverage across all relevant technologies and key areas, all partners provided input for their specific region regarding:

  • Areas where non-renewable resources are meeting energy requirements, or where emerging businesses require new energy sources and are considering fossil fuel based energy systems.
  • Relevant Renewable Energy (RE) technologies and renewable integration enabling technologies relevant to the region, including the corresponding risk and market penetration levels.

Areas were separated in three different clusters – sectors, industries and geographic areas. As anticipated, there were recurrent key areas in the feedback from the partners across the NPA Region. The commonalities across the feedback from all partners, substantiates the fact that despite the geographical differences, the NPA region is facing similar challenges, which can be best overcome and realised by transnational cooperation. After a careful review of the individual partner feedback, recurrent areas across regions were pinpointed.  This generated a set of preliminary findings on transferable solutions from partners in which, areas of best practice integration of renewables where identified, to similar areas in other partner regions, where the uptake of renewables is low.

The second objective of the report was to identify the relevant RE technologies and renewable integration enabling technologies applicable to every partner region, including the equivalent risk and market penetration levels. A similar approach, as with the areas, was taken.  A review of the available technologies (the corresponding market penetration and risk) was undertaken, for every partner, individually. This led to the assembly of preliminary findings on RE technology transferable solutions, from regions where a given RE technology has high market penetration and low risk, to regions, where the same RE technology has low market penetration and high risk.  An in-depth analysis of the examined RE technologies, will be presented in our next report ‘A Collection of Case Studies across partner regions, accompanied by technology videos and advice notes’.

The finding of the report can be found on the Project GREBE website (http://grebeproject.eu/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/GREBE-Report-identifying-transferable-renewable-energy-technologies-February-2017.pdf )

The completion of the objectives set in the report, assist us in defining the parameters, technologies, areas and demand, which are all incorporated in the final product of Work Package 5 – the Renewable Energy Resource assessment (RERA) Toolkit.

GREBE Policy Workshops in 2017

Finland Policy workshop
Michael Doran of Action Renewables

Action Renewables is the lead partner for Work Package 3 on Policy and Funding Mechanisms, within the GREBE project.   Part of this work package is to organise policy workshops in each partner region. To date Action Renewables has participated in five policy workshops.  Since the start of 2017, there have been three workshops in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Finland.  The purpose of these workshops is to involve and support stakeholders within the renewable energy sector.

During the workshops we discuss the advantages / disadvantages of local policies for that area and discuss how they can be improved to help the economy. The policy workshops will involve representatives of relevant bodies and Government departments that set the renewable energy policy agendas.  Each policy workshop has been different.  The reason for this, the conditions within each country are different and they are different policies.  All of the policy workshops were chaired by Michael Doran and Mark Corrigan of Action Renewables.   Our Norwegian partner Narvik Science Park which hold a policy workshop in April and it is our intention all will be completed before June 2017. We will then have a list of potential new policy mechanisms which will support different partner regions.

Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland policy workshop was hosted by South West College at their Dungannon campus on the 11th January.   For this workshop we had 10 representatives, who came from different sectors throughout Northern Ireland, including the Department of Environment, Invest NI, Fermanagh Omagh District Council, Fermanagh Enterprise and the Ulster Farmers Union.

This policy workshop focussed on the renewable energy industry in Northern Ireland and the lack of new policy development, and how this will have an impact on the economy.  Northern Ireland will have no policy supports for the sector after the 31st of March 2017.

Scotland

Action Renewables chaired the Scotland policy workshop on the 26th January.  This workshop was organised by the University of Highlands & Islands and was held in Inverness.   For this policy workshop, we had the privilege of four guest speakers

  • HWenergy provided an “Overview of current renewable energy policies and constraints”,
  • Scottish Enterprise on “The solutions that exist within Highland & Island Enterprise and Scottish Enterprise”,
  • Local Energy Scotland, on “Community participation in RE” and
  • Community Energy Scotland on “Communities constrained by the existing policies”

Scotland are very advanced on policies that support the renewable energy sector.  To date Scotland have 18 policy mechanisms, which support the sector and is a popular area for wind and hydro.  Many of their support mechanisms are for SMEs looking to enter the renewable energy industry.

Finland

Finlands policy workshop took place in Joensuu on the 9th February.   Finland is mainly focused on its forestry sector, so therefore biomass is their main focus.  At the policy workshop we had 12 participants from a variety of different sectors. We also had the honour of the following guest speakers:

  • Regional Council of North Karelia – Presenter Anniina Kontiokorpi outlined how they are preparing an implementation plan (roadmap) for North Karelia to achieve ambitious aims established in their Climate and Energy Program.
  • Mayor Asko Saatsi from the City of Nurmes – In Nurmes, bioenergy projects (bio refineries) are essential part of local development strategy.
  • Mika Juvonen, CEO/Bio10 Ltd. – Mika Juvonen has established organic waste treatment/biogas plant in Kitee.  He has been actively informing policies and been able to reduce barriers identified in sector.

Burning of fresh woodchips – discussion in the Finnish forest energy sector

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In the autumn of 2015, a 10 MW grate boiler plant and a modern flue gas scrubber with a heat pump connection were commissioned at Kauhavan Kaukolämpö Oy’s Kauhava plant. The concept of the plant and operations is based on the burning of fresh woodchips – from harvesting timber through the logistical chain to burning and heat recovery. Based on the operational experience of the past winter, the concept of using fresh woodchips is working very efficiently, providing significant cost savings in the acquisition of fuel to the plant operator. Despite high moisture, the burning of woodchips can be controlled and specific emissions are low. 

As a concept, the burning of fresh woodchips is new and rather heretical. The traditional way to burn woodchips is to store the felled timber on roadsides and allow them to dry before chipping and burning. Practical issues of logistics have also contributed to this model. It can be assumed that the concept of fresh woodchips works efficiently in part because a significant portion of the volatile components contained in timber is included in combustion, rather than allowed to evaporate into air.

The use of fresh woodchips requires a completely new kind of thinking from the plant and logistics. The concept can also be applied to old plants if the structure of the boiler is suitable for burning moist fuel. Fresh fuel also sets some requirements for the fuel storage and fuel supply systems.

An essential part of the system is, however, a flue gas scrubber system that efficiently recovers heat from flue gases, condensing the moisture of the fuel vaporised in the boiler. The scrubber should work reliably and efficiently under all conditions, regardless of the variation in the return temperature of district heating. With a heat pump integrated in the scrubber, flue gases can be cooled efficiently to even below +30°C, making it possible to utilise a significant part of the condensation heat of the water contained in the flue gas. For the purpose of optimising and ensuring the profitability of heat production, a heat pump scrubber has, in practice, been established as the only potential recovery technology for lost heat.

Summarized from article by Mika Nummila: http://www.elomatic.com/en/elomatic/expert-articles/voc-emissions-of-timber-felled-for-fuel-%E2%80%93-a-significant-energy-loss.html

Launch of Renewable Business Portal at the successful seminar “From resource to sustainable business” & GREBE policy workshop

The GREBE project successfully organized – in cooperation with the IEA Bioenergy Task 43 – the joint seminar “From resource to sustainable business” and the GREBE policy workshop. Both, seminar and policy workshop took place on the 9th of February 2017 in Joensuu, Finland.

The goal of this seminar was to discuss the topics and aims of GREBE and IEA Bioenergy Task 43 presenting and elaborating key aspects and opportunities from the resource to a sustainable business for sustainable energy. The joint seminar “From resource to sustainable business” included discussions of the more than 40 participants around the topics “Biomass Feedstocks for Energy Markets”, “Generating Renewable Energy business”, “Mentoring & support for RE business” and “Global energy markets & opportunities for sustainable business”.

A key milestone for GREBE was the launch of the Renewable Business Portal. Transnational sharing of knowledge is a key part of the GREBE project and therefore the portal provides a platform to demonstrate the full potential of the renewable energy (RE) sector and showcase innovations in RE technology. The Virtual Energy Ideas Hub enables connecting renewable energy businesses to develop new opportunities locally, regionally and transnationally.

The GREBE policy workshop after the seminar focused on energy policy and promotion of renewable energy. The GREBE policy workshop dealt with current issues from the Finnish and North Karelian point of view. There was active participation from regional stakeholders as well as from international participants (IEA Bioenergy Task 43 & GREBE). The results of the workshop will be utilized in drafting the roadmap towards an oil-free and low-carbon North Karelia 2040.  Details of this will be included in our next e-zine.

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Alternatively, participants had the opportunity to join an excursion in the Joensuu region visiting first the company Kesla Oyj and then the Sirkkala Energy Park.  The successful day ended with a joint dinner. The event was co-organized by the GREBE partners Luke and Karelia UAS.

The GREBE Renewable Business Portal can be found under: www.renewablebusiness.eu

The GREBE Project meets in Finland

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The GREBE project partners are holding their fifth partner meeting this week in a very cold (minus 25oC) Joensuu, Finland.   The Western Development Commission and the Finnish partners Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE) and Karelia University of Applied Sciences have been working together to prepare a programme to fit in as much as possible.

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The first part of our partner meeting was held today where we discussed plans for rolling out our Entrepreneur Enabler Scheme to the partner regions. The meeting will continue tomorrow where discussion on other work package activities will take place. Our meeting is taking place in Metla House where LUKE are based. Then on Thursday we will hold a joint seminar with IEA Bioenergy Task 43 ‘From Resource to Sustainable Business’.  On Thursday afternoon, we will hold two parallel sessions of either site visits to Kesla Forest Technology and Sirkkala Energy Park or a GREBE Policy Workshop.  We will have details of our activities in future blog posts and our next e-zine.

GREBE reviews and analyses business growth strategies: A guideline report now available

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Small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) and micro-scale enterprises (new and established) have a key role to play in generating new employment in peripheral regions. However, from knowledge of local markets it is clear that only small numbers of SMEs are consistent in generating new employment opportunities i.e. they are successful growth enterprises. SMEs that are most successful are those that successfully deployed growth strategies to optimize their business activities.

The growth strategy guideline reviews successful business growth strategies for SMEs and micro-scale enterprises in the NPA regions and analyses how these can be adapted for application to the RE sector. Business growth strategies based on new RE and energy storage technologies are identified by a case-based approach. Successful strategies allowing for business growth in current or new domestic or international market areas are available for replication across the NPA area facilitating economic growth and improved market access of new RE solutions.

The guideline report introduces firstly the contexts of business growth and main types of growth strategies. Secondly, it provides a baseline of business growth issues, preconditions of growth and support needs, basing on a transnational survey for 70 business enterprises in the NPA region. Thirdly, it provides examples of the growth strategies in renewable energy and energy storage sectors. Finally, conclusions provide more generic guidelines for the business growth strategies in the sector.

The guideline report is available for download on the GREBE website here