Becoming an entrepreneur can be challenging, therefore it’s important to stay ahead of the curve. Most business owners now recognise the importance of energy efficiency measures and sourcing renewable energy where possible. This is due to the cost savings these options can offer, allowing businesses to reinvest in other activities. Saving 20% on your energy bills can generate returns which are equivalent to a 5% increase in sales1.. Additionally, as consumers are becoming more environmentally aware, there are increasing expectations on suppliers, across all sectors, to demonstrate their commitment to sustainability, particularly in relation to renewable energy.
A survey completed by Orsted, highlighted that 73% 2. of consumers would choose a retailer that used renewable energy over one that didn’t. Improving your reputation and becoming environmentally conscious needn’t be something that will interrupt or hinder your businesses operations – it can significantly increase your competitiveness.
Committing to renewable energy:
Businesses who want to commit to renewable energy can do so through Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) either from an electricity supplier or direct engagement with a renewable electricity generator, in more recent times this has been referred to as a Corporate Power Purchase Agreement.
Alternatively, a business can invest in renewable technology to generate renewable electricity, which satisfies either part or all the businesses electricity demand. On a global scale, RE100 is a collaborative initiative, which some of the world’s most influential companies have joined and committed to 100% renewable electricity. Companies who have committed to RE100 primarily adopt the methods mentioned above to ensure they achieve their targets.
With a steady uptake of ‘green procurement’, which focuses on sourcing and purchasing products and services that use fewer resources and minimises their impact on the environment, there is certainly reason to get your business ‘going green’. In Northern Ireland, the ‘Sustainable Development strategy’ recognises the importance of responsible procurement in the public sector to ensure the effective and efficient use of resources. This was developed to select suppliers who have a sound environmental standing. Therefore, with environmental awareness and targets only set to increase in the future, it stands to sense for businesses to begin exploring their options in relation to sourcing renewable energy, if they have not already done so. This will enable them to ensure business operation remains competitive.
A new scheme encouraging homeowners to install solar panels has been launched this morning. The pilot scheme offers grants for the installation of solar panels and extra funds to install battery storage systems. Environment Minister Denis Naughten says the scheme will allow people to turn their home into their very own “renewable power station.” He said homeowners can save around €220 in electricity costs every year by taking advantage of the scheme.
Announcing the grants for homeowners, Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten TD said: “Turning your home into a renewable power station is now one step closer. Microgeneration is an incredibly exciting space that will allow citizens in local communities to generate their own electricity and contribute towards Ireland’s climate action targets. With this grant that I am announcing today, a typical 3-bed semi-detached house would spend about €1,800 on a solar panel system and would save approximately €220 per year on their electricity bills.”
The Minister added: “The pilot scheme will be subject to a 6-month review at which time the costs of installation will be assessed and further opportunities to broaden this scheme to other groups and other technologies will be explored.” The scheme will be funded by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment and administered by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). The grant is available for homes built and occupied before 2011 and details of eligibility criteria and how to apply are set out here. A registered solar PV installer must be used and a full list of registered installers is also available on the SEAI website.
IceWind designs and manufactures small vertical axis wind turbines for telecom towers and residential applications such as homes, cabins and farms.
The IceWind vertical axis wind technology has been designed in response to the growing demand for renewable technologies. It demonstrates that turbines can be an elegant, quiet, durable, cost effective and nearly maintenance free solution for energy production.
The company was founded in 2012 but development goes back to 2008, when Anemometer was designed as a final project in University of Iceland, where it all started.
The Advice Notes aim to provide introductory material for entrepreneurs, startups and SME’s, considering to enter into the renewable energy sphere and based in the NPA regions partners to GREBE. The scope of the Advice Note covers regional, trade and industry, renewable energy (RE), technology information from Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Iceland and Finland. Different partner regions have different level of deployment of the various RE technologies covered by the Advice Notes. Thus, the level of information will vary depending on the level of deployment for each technology. For example, wind is not deployed on a large scale in North Karelia (Finland); however, it is widely deployed in Scotland, Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Full details are available on the GREBE website:
The focus of the Advice Notes is on regional information of some of the main economic characteristics sited as imperative, when making an informed choice, regarding which RE technology may be the optimal choice for a new business venture:
Costs and economics associated with the relevant technology
Support schemes available, relevant to the technology
Government allowance/exemptions, relevant to the technology
Funding available for capital costs of the relevant technology
List of the relevant to the technology suppliers/developers, with focus on local/regional, suppliers/developers and the products and services they offer.
The first wind turbines for electricity generation were developed at the beginning of the 20th century. Thus, wind technology is one of the most mature and proven technologies on the market. In 2015, the wind energy industry installed 12.8 GW in the EU – more than gas and coal combined. Onshore wind is presently one of the most economically viable RE generation technologies. In areas with good wind resources, generating electricity with wind turbines is already competitive. Thus, wind turbines offer the prospects of cost efficient generation of electricity and fast return on investment. The economic feasibility of wind turbines depends primarily on the wind speed. Usually, the greater the long term annual average wind speed, the more electricity will be generated and the faster the investment will pay back. The map below gives an overall picture of the wind potential across the globe, showing that the NPA region has a great potential to harness the benefits associated with wind energy generation.
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.
In June the UK Government released figures showing that renewable energy generation has seen a dramatic 11% increase in the first half of 2018 compared to the same period in 2017. Improved weather conditions for generation have seen wind generation in Scotland increase by 37%.
Paul Wheelhouse, Scottish energy minister, said: “These figures show that Scotland’s renewable energy sector is stronger than ever with almost exactly 1GW of new capacity installed since Q1 2017 and a strong pipeline of further projects still to be constructed.” Last year proved to be another record breaking year with provisional annual statistics showing that renewable electricity generation was up 27% on 2016 and 19% on 2015. The increase in generation now brings 69% of Scotland’s electricity consumption being delivered by renewable energy.
Scotland has long delivered on world leading electricity targets and is helped by an abundant onshore wind resource and historic hydro system. As the Scottish Government builds out new offshore wind and tidal projects the increase in generation only looks to continue. Recent plans for a new pumped storage hydro scheme on Scotland’s famous Loch Ness show a long term vision for the country’s electricity grid as it looks to increase penetration of renewables into its grid system. Climate change targets have been helped by the closure of Scotland’s last remaining coal powered fire station in recent years but ageing nuclear power stations and a “no new nuclear” policy look to add new challenges in the future.
The Dingwall Wind Co-op was developed by David and Richard Lockett (the owners of the land) in partnership with Sharenergy, a co-operative helping to set up RE cooperatives. The turbine operates on the property of the Knockbain Farm near Dingwall. The Locketts’ acquired planning permission and grid connection, after they approached Sharenergy, which assured they can help them with the share offer to the rest of the community. The co-op structure, mitigated some of the risks associated with developing a wind project. Furthermore, Richard specified that he was fond of the idea of shared ownership.
The Wind Co-op owns and runs a 250kW wind turbine (WTN 250) just above Dingwall in Ross-shire. The turbine is the first 100% co-operatively owned wind development in Scotland. The Co-op was launched in September 2013 and the turbine was commissioned in June 2014. The Co-op has 179 members, 90% of whom are from the local area. The shares are between £250 and £20 000, with an average about £4000.
The co-op contributes to a community fund estimated at between £2000 and £8000/year. Members of the Co-op receive a return on their investment and EIS (Enterprise Investment Scheme for Investors) tax relief. The landowners, who originated the project, receive a rental payment for use of their land.