Fair Isle, one of the UK’s most remote inhabited islands, will soon have 24/7 supply of electricity

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Fair Isle, is a three mile long, island in northern Scotland, belonging to the Shetland island group. It is located 24 miles south of the Shetland mainland, between Orkney and Shetland.

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Since 1980, the community of Fair Isle, currently totalling 55, has been reliant on a combination of diesel generators and wind power for its electricity needs. However, none of the two, has proved to be sufficient to provide the required amount of energy. One of the two turbines has stopped working, while the other one is reaching the end of its days.

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In addition, the back-up diesel generator frequently is turned off during the night, in order to preserve fuel stocks, as deliveries are reliant on the ferry running. Thus, currently, if the wind is not blowing at Fair Isle, the lights need to be off between 11pm and 7am. Furthermore, at present there is no storage ability or capacity for new residents.  Fair Isle is yet another example of the challenges faced by peripheral, isolated, island communities. The community has acknowledged the significance of developing an infrastructure, to allow them to sustain and grow its population, as well as, to transform life on the island.

In the beginning of this year, the project was awarded over £1m of capital stage support by the Low Carbon Infrastructure Transition Programme’s (LCITP) funding call for large scale transformational low carbon infrastructure demonstrator projects. LCITP is supported through the European Regional Development Fund and is a partnership programme led by the Scottish Government, with support from HIE, Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Futures Trust and Resource Efficient Scotland. The Scottish government has promised half the cost of the project (£1.325m), with Scottish Water and HIE Shetland pledges to match fund the project. The Big Lottery Fund has been approached for £600,000 (not yet confirmed),  the National Trust may contribute up to £100,000 and Fair Isle Electricity Company will put in £20,000. The Shetland Islands Council (SIC) political leader Gary Robinson said:

“It is clear that no stone has been left unturned in this one in search of funding. What we have here is a well thought through and carefully worked up proposal. It’s absolutely clear that Fair Isle needs to have a reliable energy scheme. I am really pleased to see the lengths gone to bring in external funding”.

The £250,000 funding granted by the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), marks the completion of the full funding package totalling at £2.6m. Fiona Stirling, development manager at HIE’s Shetland area team, said: “It’s a key factor in attracting new people to the island as well as helping businesses to develop.”

Great Glen Consulting was selected to be the project manager assisting and developing the project, while the technical design and engineering of the project will be carried out by Arcus. The project is being led by a community group, known as the Fairs Isle Electricity Company. The company director Robert Mitchell said:

“Having a constant electricity source may help to attract more people to live in Fair Isle as well as benefit the residents. It will also bring new employment opportunities and sustain existing employment. This ambitious project is the first step in ensuring that the community of Fair Isle continues to thrive.”

The £2.65m investment is for three 60kW wind turbines, a 50kW solar array and lead-acid battery storage of 500 kW hours. According to the project manager Maurice Henderson the summary of costs is the following: £620,705 will be spent on the high-voltage system; £609,435 on the storage; £660,000 on the wind turbines; £125,000 on the solar power; £98,000 on new diesel generators; £192,000 on project management and £345,786 on a contingency fund. Mr Henderson acknowledges that the scheme is not of the highest technology quality available, but he asserts that it is intended for robust reliability, which is an essential consideration for a remote island. It is envisioned to make best use of the use of wind in times of low demand. The scheme will also extend a high voltage network to the north of the island to enable grid connections to the Scottish Water treatment works, Fair Isle Bird Observatory, the airstrip and the North Haven harbour.

South Mainland councillor Allison Duncan believes that the project would help secure the future of Fair Isle, as three new families were moving in, after years of population decline. Project manager Maurice Henderson said: “I would consider this as a key project in the development plan for Fair Isle for growing more population.”

Responding to the announcement, Stephanie Clark, Policy Manager at Scottish Renewables, said: “Renewable technologies are bringing power to remote communities which otherwise either wouldn’t have electricity, or would have to rely on diesel generators for their supply. It’s great to see Fair Isle will soon join the likes of Eigg and Gigha in taking advantage of a green electricity network. Scotland’s geography and abundant renewable energy resource make it the perfect place to test these advanced energy system.

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Interest grows in large-scale solar in Ireland

AR solar 03-08-2017

Irish power utility EBS and wind specialist Bord na Móna are planning a giant solar project across three counties in the middle of Ireland. Meanwhile, large-scale PV projects with a combined capacity of 1.47 GW were submitted to the local grid operator for approval.

Ireland’s state-owned power utility Electricity Supply Board (ESB) and local wind power specialist Bord na Móna announced a plan to develop a giant PV project across four locations in Roscommon, Offaly and Kildare, in the middle of the country.

In their press release, the two companies said the plant will be able to power 150,000 homes and businesses in the area, without releasing additional information. Local media, however, reported that the installation will have a capacity of 570 MW, and that it will require a global investment of around €500 million ($545.9 million).

The Irish Minister for Communications, Climate Action, & Environment Denis Naughten welcomed the co-development agreement between ESB and Bord na Móna claiming that it will place solar technology “at the heart of the solutions needed by the Irish economy and society.”

“Wind will continue to have a major role to play in supporting the decarbonisation of our energy system, but I am acutely conscious of the need to diversify our renewable generation portfolio in order to meet our ambitious climate and energy objectives. I therefore expect other technologies, including solar, to have a growing role,” Naughten said.

This is not the first investment that ESB has made in the Irish solar sector. In October 2016, the company invested €2.5 million to acquire a majority stake in Irish company Terra Solar. “This strategic investment will see the development of multiple solar PV farms within Ireland in the future, which will result in a lower carbon footprint and contribute to increased energy production from renewable sources,” the company said at the time.

That interest in large-scale solar project is increasing in Ireland was confirmed to pv magazine by the local grid operator EirGrid, which revealed that, as of the end of February 2017, it had received approximately 1,474 megawatts of solar applications from approximately 20 developers. All of these applications were for PV projects exceeding 40 MW. “It is worth noting,” said EirGrid, “that this represents a minority of solar generation applications, the majority of which are seeking connection to the distribution system operated by ESB Networks.”

Despite this growing interest for MW-sized PV projects, Ireland has currently an installed PV capacity of around 6 MW (which is almost entirely on rooftops), according to the report Ireland’s Solar Value Chain Opportunity recently published by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland.

SEAI said that the main driver for this 6 MW was Part L of the domestic building regulations, which requires a proportion of the energy consumption of a dwelling to be provided by renewable energy sources. According to the report, almost 4,000 new dwellings recorded in the country’s Building Energy Rating (BER) database have included some solar PV generation capacity.

The Irish government has certainly shown a clear commitment to renewable energy sources within the country, but has yet to finalize its renewable energy policy or the financial incentives that will be made available to renewable developments. One thing that makes the country particularly attractive for solar PV development is the growing deployment of energy storage solutions across Ireland, which should make solar technology easier to integrate.

The Irish solar landscape could grow to around 3.7 GW by 2030, said a report released in November 2015 by the Irish Solar Energy Association (ISEA).

The report concluded that the rapid cost reduction of solar seen globally since 2008 could deliver large-scale solar in Ireland at a cost of €150/MWh, and if just €670 million in investment in the sector was forthcoming between 2017 and 2030, the solar industry of Ireland could support around €2 billion of Gross Added Value.

Further information is available at https://www.pv-magazine.com/2017/05/02/ireland-interest-grows-in-large-scale-solar/

Another “extraordinary month” for renewable energy in Scotland

ERI June 2017
Source: Scottish Renewables (2017) https://www.scottishrenewables.com/sectors/renewables-in-numbers/?utm_source=Twitter&utm_medium=Social%20Post

The month of May showed that renewables can still play their part in providing large amounts of electricity even in summer months. Wind turbines alone provided enough electricity to supply 95% of Scottish homes thanks to windy weather. The 863,495MWh of electricity provided to the grid was an incredible increase of 20% compared to May 2016.

Solar energy was also increasingly able to supply 100% of electricity needs to houses fitted with panels across a number of areas in Scotland. Aberdeen, Dumfries, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Lewick houses fitted with photovoltaic panels benefited from 100% of their average use generated from the sun. Solar hot water panels also provided 90% of household’s average hot water needs in the same Scottish areas.

Across the United Kingdom there was also records broken on the 26th May with the National Grid reported a peak of 8.5GWh over a half hour period at midday. This was almost a quarter of total UK demand.

Scotland continues to increase its renewable energy capacity with an average annual increase of over 660MW since the end of 2008. Total installed renewables capacity sat at 8642GW at the end of 2016 of which the breakdown can be found below. This ever-increasing renewables capacity allows Scotland to reach renewable energy targets and climate change targets whilst still exporting low carbon electricity to its neighbours.

Renewable energy demonstration network to be established in North Karelia, Finland

Solar PV Joensuu
A Solar PV of 27 kW, Etra / Green Park, Joensuu.

Poveria Biomassasta Project (Power from the Biomasses), collaborating with the NPA Project GREBE, is establishing a network of renewable energy demonstration sites in North Karelia, Finland.

Several of the sites, such as Eno Energy Cooperative or small-scale combined heat and power of Kuittila Power Ltd., are already famous examples of sustainable energy at the local level. Together with updates of current sites, there are number of new examples for demonstrating new technologies and business models. Poveria Biomassasta will gather the energy sites as a demonstration network and provide access to them through the GREBE Renewable Energy Business Portal.http://www.renewablebusiness.eu/

The energy enterprises in North Karelia have joint development on the integration of solar energy solutions into district heating plants – and a new project, Poveria auringosta (Power from the Sun), has been launched for the purpose. The project will support attending enterprises in energy system planning and carrying out the investments and follow-up. In addition, there has been new interest in energy storage opportunities in the region, and several investments for energy storage are prepared. The practices in wood energy, technology manufacturing, and hybrid systems will also be demonstrated through the network.

The renewable energy demonstration network in North Karelia will be launched at the end of 2017. Karelia UAS will provide further information of the demonstration network and available case examples through the GREBE and Poveria Biomassasta projects.

Solar energy technology demonstration starts in North Karelia

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Choosing the most suitable PV or solar thermal system for you is not always easy.

Karelia UAS has invested in number of different solar PV and thermal technologies. Sirkkala Energy Park will house five different PV panel and inverter combinations, four solar thermal collector types and one PV-T hybrid panel system.

Various different PV technologies are commercially available and the most common and the most promising ones were acquired to Sirkkala Energy Park. Silicon polycrystalline and monocrystalline cells dominate the markets with nearly 90 % market share. Monocrystalline based PV-systems have lower production and investment costs compared to polycrystalline cells, but what they gain in investment costs will be lost in efficiency in most cases. Thin cell PV technologies will be demonstrated in the form of CIGS (Copper Inidium Gallium Selenide) and amorphous silicon. There are also various emerging technologies being researched, but most of them are not yet commercially available.

Various types of PV system architectures and technologies will be demonstrated, including single panel power optimisers, panels in series with maximum power point tracking (MPPT), panels with microinverters and mobile thin cell technologies. Total gross area of installed PV will be 80 m² and total peak power over 11 kW.

Solar thermal collectors are used to produce heat by absorbing sunlight. Two types of main technologies exists; evacuated tube collectors and flat panel collectors. Total of three types of flat panel collectors with different absorber material (copper, aluminium and stainless steel) and one type of evacuated tube collector will be demonstrated. Gross area of solar thermal collectors will be 32 m².

Hybrid PV/Thermal –panels are also demonstrated to assess the feasibility of this technology. Size of the hybrid panel array will be 8 m² with peak power of 1,1 kWp.

According to Project coordinator Mr. Markus Hirvonen, after installation of solar systems the Sirkkala Energy Park will be able to provide unique information on solar energy technologies and the characteristics of each different setup.

“The different solar energy setups provide new information on solar technologies in North Karelian environment and makes it easier for consumers and companies to make good solar PV and thermal investment decisions.

Within the GREBE –project context, Sirkkala Energy Park provides new insights into the market access paths of modern RE solutions, and their business opportunities and challenges.

Sirkkala Energy Park, located in Sirkkala campus of Karelia UAS in Joensuu, is a research, development and education facility of RE technologies. The energy system established in 2015 includes different solar and wood based i.e. a modern small-scale combined heat and power (CHP) -plant fueled with locally produced woodchips.

Farm Power Supplies Local Renewable Energy from Small-scale Producers

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Farm Power production by PV at Itikka Farm, Northern Savo, Finland

Farm Power by Oulun Energia Ltd. is a local energy from Finnish small-scale producers. Farm Power electricity is generated using micro and small scale generating plants used principally for generating electricity for the producers’ own needs. When generation capacity exceeds the producer’s own demand, electricity is sold to the grid. Farm Power is the winner of annual Climate Award, Ilmastoteko, in 2014.

Producers of Farm Power electricity are committed to the use of renewable sources of energy, such as wood, hydro, wind and solar power. External experts certify the metering, calculation and tracking procedures used in the production of Farm Power.

Annual net metering of the Farm Power allows producers to utilise their full production capacities and provides a possibility purchase the produced surplus back later on. Farm Power differs from other energy products as every producer can set the price of electricity they generate to the grid.

Farm Power is a concept supporting the market access of micro- and small-scale renewable energy. Market access paths of RE and energy storage technologies are investigated in detail in the GREBE project.

More Information at: Farm Power

PV considered feasible at farm-scale in Finland

 

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A dairy farm located in Kitee, North Karelia, invested in 22+11 kWp photovoltaic system in June 2014. The system has been now operating two years and the experience has been positive. The annual production of 30 000 kWh is about 25% of the overall electricity consumption.

The PV investments have gained considerable interest among local farmers who often have the annual electricity consumption between 50 000 to 150 000 kWh, some even 350 000 kWh. Electricity consumption of cooling the milk down to 4 °C, as well as effective air-conditioning, require significant amount of electricity. On the other hand, farms usually have suitable sunny fields and roof surface areas for PV plants.

The local company, Mirotex ltd. has established system in Kitee together with technology supplier Green Energy Finland – the estimated payback times is below 8-9 years with 30% investment support. The PV plant was provided as a turnkey solution.

The farmer owning the system is very happy for his decision and emphasizes the benefits of having a local supplier and thus the service and maintenance easily available.

The established farm-scale plants have received considerable attention – new investments are planned and decided in other farms, housing associations and in industry/commerce. The Finnish GREBE partner, Karelia UAS, invests in demonstration PV plant.The investment is part of the Sirkkala Energy Park and will provide open-access information for all interested stakeholders.

More information available at: Green Energy Finland, Mirotex Oy.