The roll-out of the GREBE EES in North Karelia took place in February-April. Three companies Eno Energy Cooperative, Rajaforest Ltd. and Havel Ltd. attended in mentoring sessions together with the Spiralia Ltd. – an experienced SME mentoring and consultancy. The results of the EES were positive: there was initiation of new business cooperation, business plan development for a new innovative technology, introduction of LEAN quality management principles, among others.
Eno Energy Cooperative is in a phase of business renewing and thus the focus was in creating and diversifying collaboration with other energy enterprises. These discussions identified opportunities to cooperate in acquisitions and raw material procurements, and potential of additional business activities in wood fuel sector. Rajaforest Ltd. had a technology development case on biomass drying and received support in business planning. Havel Ltd. Benefited from information on renewable alternatives for plastic raw materials, as well as introduction of LEAN quality management in production.
The EES process was rolled-out successfully as it resulted in new collaborations and business activities. The process, developed in GREBE project, will be further adopted for regional use in North Karelia. It was identified that there is still further work to do to establish stronger mentor networks, develop orientation guidance for attending businesses, disseminate the scheme for larger audience, and establish funding base for the service. One potential continuation is to integrate the EES into a new regional renewable energy research and development project prepared by the Karelia UAS and Finnish Forest Centre.
The GREBE project meets in Thurso, Scotland in May 22nd-24th, which provides a unique opportunity to share the EES roll-out experiences between the NPA Programme regions.
Annual meeting of the Finnish Heat Entrepreneurs in North Karelia was organised by the Finnish Forest Centre in April 4th Kontiolahti. The event focused on the energy wood markets and current development challenges, new harvesting method trials, drying of wood by using excess heat of energy plants, and socio-economic impacts of local heat entrepreneurships. After the meeting, participants had a visit to the Kontiolahti 1.5 MW heating plant equipped with a 7.6 kW solar power system.
Adjunct professor Yrjö Nuutinen from LUKE introduced latest research on the new corridor thinning method. The method – with 1-2 thinning corridors harvested in different formations – has been earlier applied in Sweden, US and Canada. Now the corridor thinning is studied and tested for pine dominated first thinning stands in Finland, aiming that it will be a generally accepted thinning method and it fulfills the forest management requirements of Forestry Centre.
The latest results on the socio-economic impacts of Eno Energy Cooperative were presented by GREBE partner Dr Lasse Okkonen from Karelia UAS. The total employment impacts of the Eno Energy Cooperative in 2000-2015, were approximately 160 FTE’s and total income impact in the same period about 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.
Bioeconomy expert Urpo Hassinen, from the Finnish Forest Centre, presented the latest results on the firewood drying by utilising excess heat of the heating plants. There was potential, especially when existing infrastructure could be utilised. Drying of woodfuel could also compensate the decreasing heat demand resulting from closure of public estates in rural areas.
CEO Janne Tahvanainen presented the market outlook from an industry perspective. The market fluctuations, caused by the weather challenges in last summer and autumn, as well as varying imports from Russia, were discussed. Weather challenges were considered a most important factor affecting current markets. For instance snow damages have increased harvesting volumes in northern part of North Karelia, and moist summers and autumns have affected biomass drying. Impacts of weather conditions on RE markets are being further investigated through the GREBE project during this spring.
The GREBE project arranged another possibility for the transfer of knowledge within the Northern Periphery area by hosting expert’s sessions with SME´s. The sessions were part of the GREBE project partner meeting from 20th to 22nd of March in Kokkola, Finland. Both the project partner meeting and knowledge exchange expert meetings took place in Kokkola during the event hosted by the Finnish GREBE partners LUKE and Karelia UAS.
Three SME´s came from Ireland to Finland to meet with experts and share knowledge relevant for their business. Two experts, Paula Jylhä and Veikko Möttönen from the GREBE partner organization Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE) were available to the participants for one-to-one meetings. In addition, Ville Kuittinen from Karelia University of Applied Sciences (Karelia UAS) shared his knowledge and ongoing activities in the renewable energy field.
Paula Jylhä, whose expertise is in forest technology and logistics, provided information to the Irish stakeholders on the topic. Paula is also coordinator of the project FOBIA and presented the project to all GREBE partners and SME´s. FOBIA is funded also under the Northern Periphery and Arctic programme. Veikko Möttönen, who has his area of expertise in wood mechanical properties and further processing of sawn wood, was able to provide information on practices to handle side streams and plans of companies for the production development.
This activity was part of the GREBE project´s “Knowledge & Technology Transfer and Business Delivery” work package led by LUKE. The aim of the expert sessions were to facilitate transnational effective knowledge transfer and collaboration in the renewable energy business sector, and to promote knowledge sharing and information exchange between actors in renewable energy supply and demand.
Janne Uutela from Rajaforest Ltd (left) and Juha Määttä from Spiralia Ltd in a mentoring session.
Karelia University of Applied Sciences is implementing a pilot mentoring programme for three renewable energy related companies in North Karelia. Mentoring will take place from January 2018 to April 2018 for three renewable energy related companies in North Karelia. The mentoring will provide the companies with suggestions for production process development, new business and product ideas and ways to develop their company as a whole.
Mentoring is not so common in Finland as it is in, for example, Ireland so the experiences of GREBE’s Irish partner form a basis for this mentoring process. Karelia launched an open call for companies in spring 2017 and received an expression of interest from three companies: Eno Energy Cooperative, Havel Ltd and Rajaforest Ltd. The current situation, needs and wishes for the mentoring process were discussed in 2017 and the tendering process for the mentor was made in late 2017. Mentoring includes 12 individual meetings with the mentor.
The mentoring takes place in a rather short timeframe, from January to April 2018 and is performed by Juha Määttä from Spiralia Ltd. The topics discussed so far in the mentoring sessions have included current challenges of the companies. They are looking into the strategic choices for the future, implementation of a development project and developing the production process. All companies have openly brought forward challenges and problems in their activities and the dialogue between the mentor and mentee (company) has been active in searching for alternative solutions. The mentor has proposed several optional solutions, which will be developed further in the coming months.
More information on the outcomes will follow in May 2018.
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.
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.
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).
Figure2: Income impacts of Eno Energy Cooperative in 2000-2015, including impacts of construction, heat production and heating cost savings (when re-invested).
The first Ökofen Pellematic Condens_e CHP-unit in Finland has been installed to Sirkkala Energy Park at Karelia University of Applied Sciences. The nano scale CHP (combined heat and power) unit produces energy with a condensing pellet boiler and an integrated Stirling engine. The whole unit requires only 1.5m² of floor space. The CHP unit is installed as part of Sirkkala Energy Park’s hybrid energy system that produces heat and electricity for Energy Park and for two elementary schools. This CHP unit is already connected to Fronius Symo Hybrid inverter, which will be connected to a small array of Panasonic HIT pV -panels. When battery storage is added to this system it will be a true standalone system.
Ökofen Pellematic Condens_e CHP-unit is designed for 6mm pellets, but it will run with 8mm pellets. The unit has a nominal thermal output of 9kW and 600W of electricity, but it can modulate the production between 3-13kW thermal and up to 1kW electricity. Unit size is ideal for single houses and requires only a little maintenance, just some brushing and vacuuming for pellet boiler and heat exchangers. The Stirling engine is nearly maintenance free.
With the Pellematic Condens_e it is possible to generate electricity and heat for your own consumption. Economically, at least in Finland, the electricity generated should primarily be used at home and only the excess available electrical energy should be fed back into the public electricity grid.
The Integrated Microgen Stirling engine produces AC power at 50Hz from the thermal energy the pellet boiler produces. The electricity production is based on a thermal gradient, so the efficiency is dependent on the temperature difference of returning water flow from the hydraulic heating circuit. The cost of the unit is approximately €23,000, excluding the possible requirement for hydraulic components or larger-scale fuel storage.