The GREBE Project meets with renewable energy companies in Norway

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As part of the GREBE Project meeting in June, the Norwegian partner, Narvik Science Park, organised visits to hydropower installations and wind parks, as well as meetings with companies operating in the renewable energy sector in Norway.

The first meeting was held with Dag Smedbold of Statkraft (https://www.statkraft.com/).  Statkraft is a leading company in hydropower internationally and Europe’s largest generator of renewable energy. The Group produces hydropower, wind power, gas-fired power and district heating and is a global player in energy market operations. Statkraft has 3800 employees in more than 20 countries.   Dag outlined their development and the leading role they play in renewable energy in Norway and in Europe, particulary in the hydro sector.

Following our meeting with Statkraft, we met with Matthew Homola of Nordkraft (http://www.nordkraft.no/).  Nordkraft is an energy group focusing on the development, development, production and distribution of all natural renewable energy. The group also has interests in power sales and other energy-related businesses.  The renewable energy production comes from magazine power plants, small hydro and wind power. The distribution network covers Narvik Municipality, as well as wall in Evenes Municipality.

The group’s history dates back to 1913, when the first power plant was put into operation in Håkvik valley in Narvik municipality. It has mainly been public or publicly-owned owners all the time, except for some years in the 2000s when Danish E2 / Dong Energy were owners. As a result of this came the wind power initiative.

Matthew brought us Nygårdsfjellet wind farm, which was acquired by Fortum  along with two other wind power projects in late 2016.  Nordkraft continue to manage and operate this project. This wind farm consists of 14 turbines with a total capacity of 32,2MW.  Windmills have an installed capacity of 2,3MW each. The entry of Nygårdsfjellet wind farm was done in two stages. The first 3 turbines were put into operation in 2006 and the last 11 in 2011. Average annual production is 105GWh, corresponding to normal consumption of about 5200 Norwegian households.

Our last visit was to Nordkrafts first power plant in Håkvik valley.  Fred Johansen of Narvik Science Park outlined the history of the development of this hydropower plant and the development of renewable energy in northern Norway.

The climate affected economy in the NPA-Regions

The second report from Work Package 4 in the GREBE Project was presented at the GREBE partnership meeting in Narvik this week. The results from the survey shows that the extreme climate has an affect on the economy and the financial outcome for businesses in NPA GREBE partner regions. Impacts of extreme weather / weather events on infrastructure is estimated to cost around €11 million only in Norway. This will give an estimated cost for the 6 NPA regions included in the GREBE project a weather dependent cost for the SMEs of approximately €60 – 80 million each year.

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GREBEs Report on the Influence of Environmental Conditions in NPA and Arctic Regions and the next steps

Rural businesses in the energy sector as well as other sectors provide an important liveihood in the northern peripheral areas of Europe. The harsh climatic conditions experienced in many NPA regions, particularly high north and arctic regions, present significant challenges to SMEs and start-ups that can seriously impact on the viability of their businesses. In the Report on the Influence of Environmental Conditions in NPA and Arctic Regions there was findings that indicate that there exists significant climate challenges in the partner regions with different types of harsh weather. Low temperature, hard winds, and rain / snow conditions can be extreme in the NPA regions.

In the GREBE Report on Innovations from Local Technology and Business Solutions the question is: How do businesses located in these areas compensate or cope with unforeseen climate change effects?

What is extreme weather?

An extreme weather occurrence can be defined in different ways and the metrological institutes in each GREBE partner region have their definition made to optimize the specific conditions in each region. A broad institutional indication is often presented when life and values may be lost caused by the extreme weather condition. However, in this report the definition used is:

“Extreme weather conditions are weather that most likely provide problems for people, business and infrastructure”. 

“Local extreme weather” is the weather impact on societal infrastructure in the different NPA regions and is considered to affect the business activities. The phenomenon of “local extreme weather” is serious for the single business when it occurs and may have serious consequences for a business competing in an open market.

NSP 21-06-2017

Climate effects on society and business:

The impact of “local extreme weather” is considered manageable and moderate in most of the northern EU regions, and structural activities that can minimize the negative effects of harsh weather on small, rural energy companies:

  1. Regional cooperation – The diverse geographical areas of northern Europe, are experiencing a number of joint challenges in relation to location, but also possible opportunities that can be overcome and realized by regional cooperation. The experience from each region may be introduced to other Northern European areas and innovations from different parts in society can be used to create specific growth initiatives and common efficient business opportunities of the European Northern and Arctic regions in a climate efficient way. One major impact of challenges and initiatives in business operations is the influence of weather conditions on society and in the extension of SME business operations and productivity located in these areas.
  2. Strategic handling – Today, many operators in society refer to weather as a restriction in budget and argue that it is a phenomenon that has an actual impact on business. However, the weather can be a strong benefit for the business when an updated insight into the specific local conditions is available and by using a strategic handling document based upon regional knowledge and experience from other businesses. Even national weather organizations are today providing companies this service.
  3. Variety of weather – The final implication is that a change in weather pattern will result in a variety of weather phenomenon that can affect the NPA regions in a different matter. There are different effects on the society, depending upon the specific region, i.e. flooding, wind, and disturbance on roads by fallen trees or avalanche.

Results from the GREBE survey

As part of the GREBE Report on Innovations from Local Technology and Business Solutions, it was found that SMEs compensate for weather constraints and disruptions by:

  • Timing, operational planning and using experienced contractors
  • Compensating investments in fertiliser storage capacities
  • Avoiding challenging times in transportations (thaws)
  • Planning in construction phase (needed insulations) for arctic conditions
  • During processes by preventing freezing (heating, antifreezes)

 Business strategy – A minimal planning strategy for weather related disturbance in business are generally lacking both in long and in short seasonal terms. The absence of business strategies tends to characterise SMEs in rural GREBE regions both in limited financial contingency as well as in maintaining physical systems and services.

There are some cost related economic factors that will affect the small business in a rural areas of Northern Europe and it may be time to consider a new weather and climate economy that compensates the businesses that are fighting against the nature and experience higher costs in their energy operations. These companies are strategically located in rural areas which require entrepreneurs, employments opportunities and an innovative environment.

The full Report on Innovations from Local Technology and Business Solutions can be downloaded from the GREBE website HERE

The GREBE Project holds its 6th partner meeting in Norway

M Doran presenting

The GREBE project partners are holding their sixth partner meeting this week in Narvik, Norway.   The Western Development Commission and the Norwegian partners Narvik Science Park have been working together to prepare a programme to fit in as much as possible.

GREBE site visit

During the first part of our partner meeting we discussed our activities since our meeting in Finland in February and progress on rolling out our Entrepreneur Enabler Scheme to the partner regions, and plans for the next six months.  Discussions are taking place on other work package activities including the development of our online funding options decision making tool, our Virtual Energy Ideas Hub and the development of a Renewable Energy Resource Assessment Toolkit.  Tomorrow (Thursday) we will visits to Statkraft, Nordkraft, Fortum Wind Park and meetings with some other SMEs in the Narvik area.   We will have details of our activities in future blog posts and our next e-zine.

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.

NPA funded GREBE and TARGET Projects meet at the Technology Festival of Northern Norway (TINN)

Target & GREBE
Norwegian project leaders, both from Narvik: Dr. Wei Deng Solvang (TARGET) and Fred R. Johansen (GREBE)

TARGET is a NPA-project designed to enhance the capacity of manufacturing companies to innovate and embrace new technologies – making regional manufacturing globally competitive. Partners of the TARGET Project were recently in Narvik to discuss how to deliver state-of-the-art technological supports to local businesses in the NPA-regions. This time, in collaboration with the GREBE project partner – Narvik Science Park at the  Technology Festival of Northern Norway (TINN). Partners concluded that renewable energy (GREBE) and digitalization (TARGET) represent two key factors in the global market competition.

Bulding regional competencies

Manufacturing in the NPA region has many important strengths. These include regional and niche specific competencies that are world leading in specific sectors unique to the region. However, the majority of manufacturing companies are predominately small in size and face considerable challenges like geographical isolation from major markets and a lack of the benefits offered by more populous and urbanised economic urban clusters. When combined with global trends that see a shift in manufacturing to lower cost and developing economics with rapid advances in new technologies, this means that support measures are needed to strengthen the manufacturing sector.

TARGETs Partners are:

  • South West College, Northern Ireland (Lead Partner)
  • UiT – The Arctic University, Campus Narvik – Norway
  • Centria University of Applied Sciences, Finland
  • Luleå University of Technology, Sweden
  • Cavan Innovation and Technology Centre, Ireland
  • Local Enterprise Offices Cavan and Sligo, Ireland

Target project

A collaborated competence platform

The focus area in the TARGET- project is to provide a toolbox to facilitate manufacturing companies´ application of innovation and embracing new processes and practices such as virtual and parametric design and simulation, reverse planning, modelling and 3D printing, remote monitoring and programming of NC machines and robots, 3D measurements, application of digital data and vision based quality assurance. Coupling these with key market analysis skills such as trending, testing and integrating products into a whole cycle of service delivery will build the competitive advantage and value of manufacturing firms. The key is to converge all of these technologies to produce an integrated, automated and highly efficient manufacturing environment – putting the knowledge economy into manufacturing.

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Global competitiveness

The TARGET project will develop supports to build future global competitiveness of NPA region manufacturers giving them a new influx of innovation, technology and novel processes. This will open up new and promising opportunities and reduce the competitive and knowledge gap through the introduction of new processes, techniques, knowledge and skill and will demonstrate the benefits to be gained through the application of these supports to position NPA manufacturing industries as world leaders in their sectors and building sustainable competitive advantage.

GREBE publishes its 4th project E-Zine

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

We held our fifth partner meeting in Joensuu, Finland in February, where we held a joint conference with the IEA Bioenergy Task 43 and launched our online training and networking platform renewablebusiness.eu.

This e-zine will highlight details of our Report on the Influence of Environmental Conditions in the NPA & Arctic Regions, our report which identifies technologies which can be transferred from areas of best practice to areas where renewable energy uptake is low and our Growth Strategy Guidelines for SMEs in renewable energy.

We also have details of four participating companies in our Entrepreneur Enabler Scheme in Northern Ireland (MSL – McCrea Services Ltd., Moffitt & Robinson, Rowe Energy and Winters Renewables) and information on three more of our policy workshops.  To read our e-zine, please click here

GREBE Project holds green business & renewable energy workshop in Norway

Narvik Science Park (NSP) hosted a green business/renewable energy workshop from 21th to 22th March 2017 – with focus on new policy mechanisms and the policy agenda in different sectors of renewable energy. A registration of 110 participants means that renewable energy is hot also in the Arctic areas. 

Policy workshops

The arrangement of policy workshops in the GREBE-Project is to provide information on the existing policies and business support funding mechanisms in each partner region, which relate to developing business opportunities in the renewables sector – and (for the Narvik policy workshop) also to provide access to professional contacts/networks in Northern – Norway (NPA Region), in order to disseminate information on new policy models and business funding options.

The workshops are a fundamental part of identifying the existing policies and business support funding mechanisms that already exist in each partner region, and in assessing how effective those policies and mechanisms have been. The work will then concentrate on identifying new initiatives which will further promote renewable energy business development in each partner region – and ensure that interventions are made.

Key objectives

  • To identify and promote opportunities for policy to provide an effective supporting framework for sustainable renewable energy business.
  • To promote awareness and understanding of funding support, mechanisms available to assist renewable energy businesses, start ups and SME enterprises in NPA regions

The seven sectors below were represented at the workshop:

  1. Co2- capture and storage (CCS)
  2. Hydro Power
  3. Electricity Distribution
  4. Energy Efficiency
  5. Solar Cell Technology
  6. Wind Technology
  7. Small Hydro Power Plants

Further information about GREBEs policy and funding mechanisms analysis can be found on the publications page of the project website http://grebeproject.eu/publication/