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.
A Case video has been published by GREBE partner LUKE on Itikka farm Iisalmi, Finland. The Itikka farm is located in a rural forest and agriculture dominated region very near to the city of Iisalmi in the region of Northern Savo, Finland. Currently energy production plays an important role in the farm´s business. The energy production on the farm includes an own biodiesel production unit, a wind turbine, solar panels and a ground source heat pump.
The Itikka farm is in a private family ownership since the year 1905. The farm has a high annual energy consumption of approximately 150 000 kWh especially high needs for seed processing and drying. The Itikka farm currently employs three external employees with one being employed in the field of energy.
The system is driven by the objective of being self-sufficient by meeting the energy demand of the farm with local resource and moving away from fossil energy. Currently a self-sufficiency of about 50-70% is achieved. Own energy consumption (electricity, heat and fuels) of about 150 MWh, drives own production. The farm has available by-products that can be utilised in bio-oil and briquette production.
The Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) has now published a GREBE video on the Itikka farm hybrid solutions case. The video is available in two language versions, English and Finnish.
Please have a look at the hybrid solution of this farm and check the English version of the case video here:
The GREBE project arranged a possibility for the transfer of knowledge within the Northern Periphery area by hosting expert sessions with SME´s. The sessions were part of the GREBE project meeting events hosted by the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council from 6th – 10th November 2017. Two experts, Saija Rasi and Veikko Möttönen from the GREBE partner organization Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) were available to the participants for one-to-one meetings.
Saija Rasi, whose expertise is in bioenergy production, biogas technology, gas analysis, treatment of biodegradable wastes and bio refineries, provided information to stakeholders interested in biogas technology / energy production and nutrient circulation.
Veikko Möttönen has his area of expertise in wood mechanical properties, drying of wood and sawn timber, further processing of sawn wood, further processing of side streams and wood modification, and was able to provide information on practices to handle side streams and plans of company for the production development.
The experts were also available during a networking event for businesses from Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland giving the opportunity to engage with one another or opening up the possibility of joint working opportunities in the future.
This activity was part of the GREBE project´s “Knowledge & Technology Transfer and Business Delivery” working package led by the Natural Research Institute Finland (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.
According to the Conference Board of Canada, Northern peripheral areas in Canada have about 300 distant communities, where sustainable development for energy, waste management and clean water could be developed much further than where they currently are. Natural Resources Institute Finland sent Dr. Lauri Sikanen to Ontario to Lakehead University for four months to investigate renewable energy opportunities in distant communities.
Dr. Sikanen sees a great potential to support Canada in their development and to open also markets for European advanced technology of bioenergy and cleantech. Dr. Sikanen hosted the visit of Finnish Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Mr. Kai Mykkänen and a delegation of about 20 leading Finnish bioeconomy companies in Thunder Bay 10.-12. of October and now further steps of most promising leads are in his schedule.
Distance communities are producing their energy by transported diesel and that takes energy price in communities sky high. It is normal to pay five or even ten times higher price for energy in those communities than elsewhere. Large numbers of communities are located in forested areas and have remarkable amount of solar and wind available as well. Using biomass, solar and wind would also bring more economic activity into communities.
EU and Canada just recently made a CETA agreement to harmonize regulations in trade between them. Now export of good and services should be easier for both, but bioeconomy development in Northern areas in Canada needs an extra attention. NPA programme already welcomes some areas of Canadian Maritimes into projects but the need for the development supported together is actually also (and even more) elsewhere. It would be good to have northern areas of provinces like Quebec and Ontario included and joint programme with Canadians could be created.
The GREBE Project is organising a networking workshop and site visits in Enniskillen on Wednesday 8th and Thursday 9th November 2017. We would like to invite stakeholders from Northern Ireland and Ireland in the renewable energy sector to participate in this event.
The aim is to highlight the benefits of renewable energy for SMEs and start-up businesses and give participants the opportunity to meet with biomass experts from the Natural Resources Institute in Finland (https://www.luke.fi/).
Veikko Möttönens area of expertise is wood mechanical properties, drying of wood and sawn timber, further processing of sawn wood, further processing of side streams, wood modification (thermal modification – Thermowood, preservative impregnation) and Saija Rasis area of expertise is in bioenergy production, biogas technology, gas analysis, treatment of biodegradable wastes, biorefineries. Places are limited for one to one meetings with Veikko and Saija.
GREBE Project partners from Finland, Norway, Iceland and Scotland will be available to share their knowledge. Participants from the Entrepreneur Enabler Scheme (both SMEs and mentors), and other renewable energy businesses will attend and are happy to share their experiences.
On Thursday 9th November, site visits will be held at the CREST Centre in South West College, Balcas and Ecohog (an Entrepreneur Enabler Scheme participant).
The GREBE Project has published a report based on case studies on the awareness and understanding of funding for renewable energy businesses. The report can be downloaded from the GREBE Website here
The key objective of this report was to identify and promote opportunities for policy to provide an effective supportive framework for sustainable renewable energy business (both new and emerging). The focus of this report was on the support and benefits that each case study received, including how the supports and benefits helped each business in terms of creating employment, finance or diversifying their business. This report examines the funding mechanisms, criteria, application practicalities and business outcomes and innovations in the case studies.
When carrying out the report, the most popular funding mechanisms available to the renewable energy businesses were research & development supports and also financial supports. In Ireland one company received a support towards creating employment through the JobsPlus scheme. JobsPlus is an employer incentive which encourages and rewards employers who offer employment opportunities. On the other hand support mechanisms such as social support, were not as popular throughout the partner regions.
Through analysing the chosen case studies, Finland, Iceland and Scotland have a number of different funding mechanisms were available to companies for certain types of projects, whereas in Northern Ireland only one type of support was available for certain projects.
The GREBE project studied the market access paths of RE and energy storage technologies by using a case-study approach. The case studies (n 12) included technology descriptions, technology demonstration and deployment issues and support systems. The case-based paths provided information on important drivers and barriers, thus providing background for the business mentoring support of the GREBE project. The summary report of key findings, roadmap to market, as available now in GREBE Project Publications.
Basing on the case study findings, coordinated technology planning is an essential part of the roadmap to market, i.e. strategy to proceed from the technology development and demonstration to its successful market deployment. Technology planning covers both planning of the new technology development, but can be also applied as a process of updating and adopting new existing technologies for the business enterprises.
The development paths of technologies included several steps building on the earlier ones, and time-span was up to 15-20 years. Without coordination and planning procedures, the market-access can be very difficult to reach, and innovations can be lost. As a part of the technology planning, technology transfers can be utilised. They can include technologies (or sub-technologies) of different readiness levels, and new to area solutions. The role of technology transferring agents, i.e. persons (often multi-nationals) with experience of different industries and operational environments remains essential.
Bridging the gap between demonstration and deployment remains also as a key challenge. The gap between the technology demonstration and deployment can be reduced by establishing and utilising soft supports, industry clustering and partnerships in demonstration, for instance. Public sector has often an essential role in providing the supporting infrastructures (such as business and technology parks) and funding instruments.
Partnerships are essential for risk sharing in long and often capital intensive processes, as well as finding suitable sites for demonstrator projects. There were several types of partnership models applied in RE technology cases. They were often place-based and utilising local trust and previous experiences.
End-user support is essential part of the early deployment. Technologies typically have still improvement needs and often end-users need training and support for the deployment. This raises the importance of the development of the end-user supports along the technology development, and full availability of the service and maintenance as the technology reaches the market.