Fermanagh and Omagh District Council hosted a meeting of the GREBE project in the week 6th – 10th November 2017. This meeting, the 7th Partner meeting took place on Tuesday and Wednesday and culminated in a networking event for those businesses who engaged with the Entrepreneur Enabler Scheme in Northern Ireland, and brought them together with a number of businesses from the Republic of Ireland.
The following partners were in attendance:
Western Development Commission – Ireland
Action Renewables – Northern Ireland
Fermanagh and Omagh District Council – Northern Ireland
University of the Highlands and Islands – Scotland
Natural Research Institute LUKE – Finland
Karelia University of Applied Science – Finland
Narvik Science Park – Norway
Icelandic Centre for Innovation – Iceland
An important aspect of this event was also the involvement of two experts from Finland who were available to the participants for one-to-one meetings, Veikko Mottenen and Saija Rasi. These meetings were positively received and the speed networking event afforded all of those who attended the opportunity to engage with one another, opening up the possibility of joint working opportunities in the future. The high-energy event was facilitated by Ruth Daly of Sort-IT and was enjoyed by all.
After the networking event, the group attended a Chairman’s reception in Enniskillen Townhall, followed by a social event when the networking continued.
Thursday saw the group visit a number of sites to see the range of activities within the area in the Renewable Energy sector. Site visits were facilitated by the CREST centre at South West College in Enniskillen, an associated partner in the GREBE project, Balcas, who are a major supplier of fuel to the Renewable Energy sector and finally to Ecohog, based in Carrickmore, Co Tyrone, whose machinery is built locally and is sold across the globe and has been making significant inroads into the Renewable Energy sector.
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 Regional Council of North Karelia and Karelia University of Applied Sciences organised Eastern Finland Bioenergy Days in 26th-27th of September. Seminar covered policy and business developments of the sector, and excursions headed to the renewable energy demonstration at Sirkkala Energy Park (Karelia UAS), Eno Energy Cooperative and John Deere Forest machine manufacturing.
The seminar programme included presentations and discussions on the sector development, especially on latest policy development in climate and energy, ie. legislative proposal to integrate greenhouse gas emissions and removals from land use, land use-change and forestry (LULUCF) into the 2030 climate and energy framework. The potential impacts of the prepared legislation to the Finnish forestry, bioenergy sector and their carbon emissions were discussed in several presentations. The Finnish discussion and controveries experienced are deatailed in a blogpost by the University of Eastern Finland.
The excursion to the Eno Energy Cooperative included company history, forest supply chain practices, socio-economic impacts, and the latest investment on 21 kWe Solar PV. The Solar PV system was installed by a local company, Mirotex ltd., and it was part of the joint procurement process together with 4 other energy enterprises in the region.
The Eno Energy Cooperative shares actively good practices through the networks of heat entrepreneurs both regionally and nationally, and is also know reference site for international visitors. The EEO is one of the three EES (Entrepreneur Enabler Scheme) roll-out companies in Finland and will receive targeted mentoring support during the third year of the project.
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.
The TECH4EFFECT (Knowledge and Technologies for Effective Wood Procurement) project successfully conducted field trials near Jyväskylä, Finland, on the efficiency of cut-to-length harvesting machines during last week. The field tests were conducted by the project partners Luke, CNR-IVALSA and Ponsse in cooperation with a contractor and their operators.
The project focuses on increasing access to wood resources through more efficient silviculture and a better understanding of the business models governing the procurement of forest operations services. The project further considers increasing efficiency in forest harvesting and collection, and the reduction of soil impact from forest operations, and puts forward ways of making this a measurable and integrated part of operational efficiency. TECH4EFFECT offers the potential to revolutionize forest operations with a state-of-the-art knowledge-based efficiency development system, providing easily accessible decision support exploiting the large amount of data available in modern industrial forest management. The ambition of TECH4EFFECT is to implement such as management tool, enhanced through 4 years of intensive R&D in close cooperation with the end-users of the Efficiency Portal in 5 participating countries. It is the project’s hope that implementation will result in such obvious benefits amongst the industrial partners that its application will become widespread within the European forest sector.
The conducted study provides information aiming at reducing fuel consumption in timber harvesting and extraction. The aim of this activity and task was to map the potential fuel saving measures in cut-to-length harvester operation.
The TECH4EFFECT project has received funding under the Horizon2020 BBI (Bio-Based-Industries) programme by the European Union. The project is led by the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO) and has partners from Italy, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Poland and Finland. GREBE partner Luke is leading the working package “Increasing access to wood resources“ and involved in other working packages. The total budget of the project is 5.3 million euros.
The TECH4EFFECT project objectives are relevant also for the Northern Periphery regions and GREBE partner countries.
This project has received funding from the Bio Based Industries Joint Undertaking under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 720757.