GREBE publishes its 9th Project E-zine

GREBE Ezine Sept 2018

The GREBE Project has published its 9th e-zine to showcase the activities and ongoing goals of the project.  

Welcome to the 9th e-zine for the GREBE Project. Since April we have continued to carry out the project activities and meet our objectives. Our 9th partner meeting in Thurso was hosted by the Environmental Research Institute (ERI) and included a site visit to the world famous Old Pultney distillery and Wick District Heating Scheme. It also included our final conference ‘Local opportunities through Nordic cooperation’ on Thursday 24th May 2018. Details may be found on page 2.

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The Renewable Energy Resource Assessment (RERA) Toolkits for Biomass, Wind & Solar Energy are now complete and details may be found on pages 3 & 4. The WDC completed a Regional Heat Study for the Western Region of Ireland and held two workshops on how the WDC can support and develop biomass use in the Western region. Details can be found on page 5. We also have an update of the EES in partner regions on pages 6 & 7 and details of the Action Renewables ‘Proposal for a Renewable Future’ on page 8. We have details on the development of a database based on the Influence of Environmental Conditions in NPA and Arctic Regions on page 9. And finally, we have details of Technology/Knowledge Transfer Cases on page 10.

Our e-zine can be downloaded from the GREBE Project website here.

 

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Renewables project aims to continue EES in North Karelia

BlogThe Finnish Forest Centre and Karelia UAS have applied for a project, Renewables – Sustainable Energy Economy in North Karelia – from the Rural Development Programme. The project continues on from the successful work of regional Power from Biomass project, completed in June 2018, and the GREBE project ending this month.

The Renewables project will support the establishment of micro clusters in renewable energy, especially based on biomass (wood and biogas). The project will continue the GREBE service, Entrepreneur Enabler Scheme, by organising tailored mentoring for 8 rural businesses in 2019-2021.

The Renewables will work for the regional renewable energy by supporting the development of biogas production, establishing and supporting the cooperation between energy entrepreneurs especially in firewood supply, introducing new innovations to reduce fine particle emissions, and supporting rural enterprises in sustainable product and service development.  The Renewables will have much benefit from GREBE project results, providing vast knowledge base on renewable energy technologies and supports.

The Renewables supports micro clusters of RE enterprises. Their cooperation aims can be e.g. in establishing joint raw material procurements, joint investment projects, or development of new products/services. In GREBE the EES Service and mentoring process provided successful results in a number of cases. The piloted process has proven to be effective and can be replicated with new participants. The funding applied, can be based on Innovation vouchers (2019) and ERDF funding targeted for enterprises.

The Renewables is scheduled to start in January 2019, and is coordinated by the Finnish Forest Centre. The project will organise active collaboration with international renewable energy research and development, such as starting NPA project Handiheat.

Karelia University of Applied Sciences implements pilot mentoring programme in North Karelia

Kuas Blog

Karelia University of Applied Sciences implemented a pilot mentoring programme for three renewable energy related companies in North Karelia. Mentoring took place between January 2018 and April 2018 for three renewable energy related companies in North Karelia. The mentoring provided the companies with suggestions for production process development, new business and product ideas and ways to develop their company as a whole.

As mentoring is a rather new method in Finnish business world, the GREBE project team was interested to see how things would proceed in its pilot mentoring sessions. The Irish partner’s processes were taken as an example for Karelia’s mentoring. The mentor proposed 2-5 optional solutions for the mentee’s, including for example improving the production process using LEAN principles, new (bio-based) raw material options, proceeding with product innovation, new business lines and new cooperation partnerships. The mentee’s chose 1-2 proposals to take further and discussed them with the mentor and/or other partners.

The mentoring process was well received and the mentees and mentor formed a good and open relationship. Although some of the proposed solutions seemed radical, many of them were already thought of in the company but not taken further, and the mentor assisted and sparred in the process. With a given tight time schedule and mentoring schedule, the companies found the mentoring useful and efficient. Due to limitation of time as the mentoring was performed in four months the outcomes of the mentoring are not realized yet. The mentoring finished in April 2018 and the companies are proceeding with the chosen solutions.

Here are some experiences from the mentor:

“I’m Juha Määttä, Spiralia Consulting Company and I have done three business mentoring cases in the Finnish part of the project. All business cases are part of GREBE project mentoring. Mentoring tasks included solving R&D process bottlenecks, screening of new business opportunities and analysing production process. Possibilities of new biomaterial have also been estimated. All companies have had interesting and challenging business cases. Mentoring has brought new solutions for the companies. All parties have increased their knowledge of renewable energy and enlarged our networks in business and research.”

A more detailed description of the mentoring process will be available in August 2018.

Power from Biomass project final seminar, Monday 11th June, Joensuu

KUAS

The Rural development programme co-financed Power from Biomass project completed its work in June 2018 after three years of renewable energy development in North Karelia, Finland. The project cooperating closely with GREBE in North Karelia, resulted in several new investments including two solar PV and energy storage systems in community buildings of Höljäkkä and Haikola in Nurmes. Project also established a regional network of 15 renewable energy demonstration sites.

The final seminar held in Joensuu, presented projects main outputs, latest developments in renewable electricity production, biomass-based small-scale combined heat and power, solar energy project of heat enterprises, and intelligent solar PV systems.

Project manager Antti Niemi from Pielinen Karelia Development Company PIKES Ltd. summarized the project results. The project established a regional demonstration network with 15 sites demonstrating renewable energy production systems. The Energiaraitti website presents the technical and economic information and live-information of solar PV systems. New production units established were mostly solar PV and some energy storages systems in farms, other rural enterprises and community buildings. The biomass-based renewable energy had a challenging business environment due to low price of fossil fuel oil. Despite, also some new biomass-based energy systems were established.

Project manager Kim Blomqvist from Karelia UAS presented the solar PV systems integrated into biomass-based district heating plants. Investments were made for 7 district heating plants with total annual production of 52 MWh. The heating plans were considered suitable for the solar PV as they have balanced electricity demand.

Marketing and product development manager Kimmo Tolvanen, representing regional energy company PKS, presented an in-depth overview of the energy system development in Finland and North Karelia. The main game changers in the energy system are expected to consist of wind and solar power production, energy storages and digitalization working all effectively together. The energy grid changes toward decentralised, intelligent and adaptive systems are evident. In addition, electricity markets are in transition, and new service developments are expected throughout the system from production to consumption.

Project coordinator Anssi Kokkonen from Karelia UAS presented the technical solutions of biomass-based combined heat and power production. The solutions included woodchip gasification plant (Volter Ltd.), Nano-chp Stirling engine (9 kWth + 0.6 kWe), fuelled by wood pellets (Ökofen).  Both solutions are demonstrated at Sirkkala Energy Park by Karelia UAS.

Project manager Toni Hannula from energy company ESE (Etelä-Savon Energia, Mikkeli) presented intelligent solar power systems. The smart energy transition project by Lappeenranta Technological University has generated an overview of the systems change. The ESE has been successful in establishing biogas fuel stations, and piloting intelligent solar PV systems with 48 hours production forecast and directing the production optimally depending on energy price (electricity spot-price optimizing) and production and consumption loads. The system is piloted in Lumme Energia Oy estates.

The Power from Biomass project developed as a diverse renewable energy project and delivered several new services and RE production sites were established. The project had an international element through cooperation and networks of the GREBE project.

Entrepreneur Enabler Scheme EES Roll–out completed successfully in Finland

KUAS

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.

Heat Entrepreneurs’ meeting, April 4th Kontiolahti, Finland

KUAS

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.

Knowledge transfer in the NPA

Meeting

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.