The Western Development Commission launched their Local Energy Communities (LECo) project in IT Sligo on Friday April 6th. The launch was combined with a community energy awareness day. LECo is funded by the NPA programme with partners in Ireland, Finland, Sweden and Norway. The goal is to combine new innovative technologies with locally available natural resources, and to raise awareness of energy efficiency and identify possibilities to use renewable energy.
The event was organised and Chaired by Dr Orla Nic Suibhne from the Western Development Commission, and the speakers included:
- Paul Kenny CEO of Tipperary Energy Agency
- Ruth Buggie Sustainable Energy Community (SEC) Programme Manger with SEAI
- Pauline Leonard GREBE Project Coordinator Western Development Commission
- Mel Gavin R&D Coordinator IT Sligo
- Aisling Nic Aoidh LECo Project Officer Údarás na Gaeltachta
- Martin Keating Mayo County Council’s Climate Change Regional Office
At the event, Ruth Buggie from SEAI announced details of a new grant programme specifically designed for communities within the SEC network. This new programme will go live mid April 2018 and aims to develop community skills to a level where they can manage their own capital projects, lead small to medium scale project in their own communities, build and maintain energy awareness and knowledge locally, and also provide funding for small scale demonstration projects to showcase innovative energy solutions. There is €3m available for this new funding programme for communities in 2018.
Further details are available at: www.facebook.com/LECoproject
In Finland, the regulation concerning the support schemes for renewable energy are going through significant changes. A new legislative proposal presents a technology-neutral subsidy scheme based on a competitive bidding process with premiums. The topic was discussed by market players and industry at Energy Regulation Workshop (March 21st, Vaasa City hall).
In 2010 Finland introduced feed-in tariff as economic support mechanism for wind, biogas and wood fuel based combined heat and power. The mechanism has been effective in creating wind power capacity from below 1% market share to about 5.7%. However, the scheme has been also expensive as the electricity market price has been lower than expected. The feed-in tariff for wind, biogas and wood fuel power plants comprises the target price less than the three-month mean market price of electricity. The target price is €83.50/MWh. At the beginning of the scheme the market price varied €45 to €55/MWh but at the end of the support period it has been €30 to €35MWh.
In Vaasa Energy Week preparation of the support scheme based on a competitive bidding process with premiums was discussed. Total of 2 TWh of renewable energy would be generated through the scheme. However, details of the scheme, definitions concerning technological neutrality and schedule of the scheme remained open. Several presentations, representing the industry and market players, forecasted significant increase of the wind power capacity in Finland – despite the details of the new support scheme. For instance one major market player, OX2 informed about their own objectives for Finland being 500-600 MW of wind power, which is about the same as the 2TWh objective. This major market growth would be based on:
- large number of projects prepared during the feed-in tariff system
- interest among investors
- fast technological development (bigger turbines, rotors, towers)
- competitive procurement processes, and
- large base of experienced and internationally active project developer
In addition, PPA’s i.e. Power Purchase Agreements, were seen as growing business model with customer being larger-scale companies with RE commitments. Also the length of those agreements can be over 10 year periods. The forecasted future was that 5-10 market players would dominate the market, and scale of the wind power systems could be divided into large-scale market based systems and smaller systems more dependent on the economic supports. As Finland is much dependent on the imported energy (share 23.9%) the growth potential is evident. At the same time the grid imbalances and volatility are increasing.
The support scheme preparation was considered still as uncertain and delays investment decisions. In addition, market players considered that the system might not be equal but favoring more large-scale projects. As the technological neutrality is still undefined, it remains open how the support treats different technologies and introduction of new innovations. The policy advocacy activities are part of the GREBE project, and in Finland the focus will be on informing the project stakeholders about the current transition of the national and regional energy system and related policies.
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 event will take place this Thursday at 3pm in the Bailey Allen Hall, NUIG.
You can register for free at www.galwayenergysummit.ie
We cannot wait to see you there!!!
Northern Ireland’s expanding renewable energy industry is hungry for good quality land, pricing out farmers and now seeking leases in the Republic. Rental values for productive grassland in the north coast area of Northern Ireland have seen a sharp increase within the past fortnight as competition intensifies between larger dairy units looking to expand and farmers looking to produce grass for anaerobic digestion (AD) plants in the area.
Farmers and auctioneers report prices as high as £450/acre (€512/acre) have been paid at auction for top-quality silage ground in the Coleraine area to supply AD plants. Other auctions have seen silage ground making over £400/acre (€457/acre). With limited ground coming on to the rental market, the knock-on effect has seen conacre prices for less productive grassland in the surrounding area also rising, with reports of £200/acre (€228/acre) to £300/acre (€342/acre)being paid on leases secured in January. While some of these prices are inflated by area-based payments, there is no doubt that AD plant operators are in a strong position to bid as a result of government subsidies for AD.
Operators of AD plants in Northern Ireland have also begun to lease land south of the border to grow feedstock such as grass or maize silage. One auctioneer, one farmer and one agribusiness representative in the border area of the Republic reported that farmers in north Co Monaghan had difficulty competing with NI biogas producers for land leases. While this is reported to be on a small scale and the sources had no figures available, pressure could increase in the future as renewable energy support schemes become available from the end of this year in the Republic.
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.
On 28th of January 2018 in Brussels at an EU steering committee meeting on energy technique of the future, SETPLAN, Guðni A. Jóhannesson general director of energy reported on a plan on deployment of geothermal heat for heating and electric production in Europe. Iceland is a member in SETPLAN cooperation on the grounds of EEA cooperation.
A workgroup under supervision of Guðni and other colleagues have been working on various topics e.g. technical matters, highlights and projects that need to be fulfilled under strict rules of the steering committee set in the beginning of the project. Matters that need to be covered are e.g. utilization of geothermal heat, improve the competitiveness and minimize costs regarding exclusive factors of geothermal heat production.
The SETPLAN committee approved the plan from the workgroup and to finance research and development projects within the geothermal fields with 940 billion euro. The financing comes from the partner countries, from EU funds and the industry. The first cooperation project has begun, GEOTHERMICA, and applications thereunder could lead to 60 billion euro projects. Orkustofnun (National Energy Authority) leads the project from Iceland; other partners are also RANNÍS (The Icelandic Centre for Research) which runs the application process. GEORG runs the office of the project and daily operations.
South West College has unveiled plans for its £29 million new build which gets underway in March. Tracey Brothers has been appointed as the main contractor for the construction and development of the new Erne Campus which will be situated on the site of the former Erne Hospital in Enniskillen.
The new campus, which has been designed by Hamilton Architects, will see the delivery of the first educational building worldwide to achieve the highest international standard in environmental construction, PassivHaus Premium. Construction of the 8,200m2 building is scheduled to begin in two months and will provide employment for over 200 people including a number of apprenticeship opportunities.
A spokeswoman for South West College said the building, which is due to be completed in January 2020, will “further enhance the College’s existing global reputation in the sustainable construction sector and will be used to attract international companies and students in this field.”
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 Climate Ambassador programme is a new initiative to train and support individuals taking action on climate issues and is jointly supported by the Educational Unit in An Taisce (An Taisce is a charity that works to preserve and protect Ireland’s natural and built heritage) and also the Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment (DCCAE).
Dr. Orla Nic Suibhne recently commenced work with the WDC as a project administrator on the NPA funded LECo project. Over the past two years, Dr. Nic Suibhne completed a Postdoc with University College Dublin and the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland entitled “The energy transition process in a rural community; becoming a Sustainable Energy Community”.
In November 2017, Dr. Nic Suibhne was contacted by Gary Tyrrell, the Climate Action Officer with An Taisce informing her that she had been chosen as one of Irelands first Climate Ambassadors!
There are 100 Climate Ambassadors located throughout Ireland, and the first training day took place in Galway on Saturday 27th January where lots of passionate, experienced climate ambassadors met. Various climate events will take place in Ireland over the next 12 months so please continue to follow us for details.
Further information can be found at http://www.climateambassador.ie/