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/

Ireland’s first National Mitigation Plan is published

Denis Naughton
Minister Denis Naughton

Irelands Minister for Communications, Climate Action and Environment, Denis Naughten T.D., published Ireland’s first statutory National Mitigation Plan last week, in line with its Climate Action and Low Carbon Development Act, 2015, and designed to complement the country’s Paris Agreement commitment towards lowering its emissions. The 200-page document, with a foreword by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, it outlines the nation’s next era of energy engagement through to 2030 and 2050.

The first National Mitigation Plan represents an initial step to set Ireland on a pathway to achieve the level of decarbonisation required. It is a whole-of-Government Plan, reflecting in particular the central roles of the key Ministers responsible for the sectors covered by the Plan – Electricity Generation, the Built Environment, Transport and Agriculture, as well as drawing on the perspectives and responsibilities of a range of other Government Departments.

The measures that will be implemented through this first Plan will lay the foundations for transitioning Ireland to a low carbon, climate resilient and environmentally sustainable economy by 2050. This is the Government’s new blueprint for reducing greenhouse emissions in Ireland by 80 per cent before 2050.  To support this ongoing work, the Plan also includes 106 individual actions for various Ministers and public bodies to take forward as Ireland moves to implementation of what will be a living document. Importantly, the Government recognises that this first Plan does not provide a complete roadmap to achieve the 2050 objective, but begins the process of development of medium to long term mitigation choices for the next and future decades.

Environmental analysis was undertaken as part of the development of the Plan and information on how environmental considerations and the views of consultees and stakeholders influenced the Plan are set out in the Environmental Statement and the final Natura Impact Statement.

The plan has been described by Minister for Climate Action Denis Naughten as the “initial step to set Ireland on a pathway to achieve deep decarbonisation”.

The National Mitigation Plan can be downloaded from the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment 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.

GREBE participates in the Arctic Project Clustering Event in Sweden in May

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The GREBE Project were pleased to be invited to participate in the Arctic Project Clustering Event held in Skellefeå May 10-11th 2017.  This event gathered more than 90 participants from the programme areas of Botnia-Atlantica, Interreg Nord, Northern Periphery and Arctic programme and Kolarctic CBC. The aim of the event was to find synergies between ongoing projects in the different programmes, share good examples and challenges as well as identify future cooperation possibilities.

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The event began with a presentation of Skellefteå held by Helena Renström, Marking Director at Skellefteå municipality, providing insight into the specific areas of interest and growth as well as development potential in Skellefteå.

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Nils Arne Johnsen, Arctic Director at Ramboll, gave an overview of what is meant by the Arctic and the special features and actors of operating in the area. Johnsen concluded that many of the challenges in the Arctic are also provide opportunities for investment and development.

The second day of the event Baiba Liepa, Project Manager at the Interact programme, provided a framework for territorial cooperation, the reasoning behind different programme types and how Interreg programmes and projects connect to overall goals of the European Union.

During the first day plenary session Ole Damsgaard, Head of Secretariat at the Northern Periphery and Arctic programme, presented the Arctic cooperation within which the four programmes come together to share knowledge, organise joint activities and combine resources to obtain greater impact. The second day representatives for all four programmes, Jenny Bergkvist, Programme Director at Botnia-Atlantica, Lena Anttila Programme Director at Interreg Nord, Marjaana Lahdenranta, CBC Expert at Kolarctic CBC and Ole Damsgaard presented the programmes in more detail. Similarities and differences were highlighted together with complementary goals that provide cooperation opportunities for projects implemented in the different programmes. The possibility to apply for financing for clustering projects was also announced by the Northern Periphery and Arctic programme.

The clustering of projects was organised through thematic workshops within E-health, Energy efficiency, Bio-sconomy and Entrepreneurship, to which selected projects and external guests from all four programmes were invited. The aim of the workshops was to present ongoing projects in the different programmes, find synergies and identify knowledge gaps and common interests.

The workshop within E-health was moderated by David Heaney, from Rossal Research & Consultancy. Common themes were connecting health prevention and detection to technology and data collecting as well as receiving input from SME´s in the field.

Michael Jalmby, ESAM, moderated the Energy efficiency workshop in which the importance of energy efficient and sustainable solutions for renovations were discussed together with existing gaps between knowledge and implementation of best practices.

The Bio-economy workshop was moderated by Ian Brannigan from Western Development Commission Ireland and Michael Doran from Action Renewables. Common themes were how to disseminate project results to ensure real impact and developing research findings into marketable solutions for SME´s.

The workshop within Entrepreneurship was moderated by Camilla Sehlin, Incita AB and discussed how to identify different needs of SME´s and deliver the right results as well as ways of bringing different types of companies together.

The workshop discussions were concluded at the end of the event to give insight into the outcomes of the different themes.

During the event a study visit was organised to the innovation house The Great Northern were Phil Hopkin, Business Community Manager, told about the history and ideology behind The Great Northern and how the identity of a region can be utilized in creating new opportunities.

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GREBE participates in Galway Chamber’s Energy Conference

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The GREBE Project participated in Galway Chamber’s energy conference in the Galway Bay Hotel on Friday 12th May 2017.  As part of the panel on the International Perspective, Pauline Leonard (GREBE Project Co-ordinator) stressed the benefits of renewable energy for the social and economic development of peripheral regions and the benefits of working with international partners in terms of technology and knowledge transfer. Other participants on the international panel included Chris Stark (Scottish Government Director of Energy and Climate Change), Denise Massey (MD of Energy Innovation Centre UK), Alex White (Energy Policy Group Chair at the Institute of International & European Affairs and former Minster for Energy) and Jim Mulcair (Chairman of Roadbridge).

The conference was organised by Galway Chamber of Commerce and its president Conor O’Dowd expects to see 30% more people living in Galway by 2050. Minister of State for Natural Resources Seán Kyne TD, outlined the Government’s position on the energy sector and stressed how important this sector is to the region.  The leader of the Green Party, Eamon Ryan highlighted the need for a zero carbon society by 2050

The conference was sponsored by Coillte and SSE, and James O’Hara of SSE stated that the development of Galway Wind Park will herald a huge increase in renewable electricity generation in the West of Ireland.  It will involve 69 turbines, powering up to 84,000 homes and effectively replacing 190,000 tonnes of carbon generated electricity each year.  The wind park near Moycullen will become Ireland’s largest onshore wind farm to date and will assist Galway in achieving the status of a net exporter of renewable energy.

Brian Sheridan of the Galway Harbour Company and John Breslin of SmartBay outlined the potential for marine energy in the region, with discussions about offshore wind and the generation of wave and tidal power.

GREBE meets with energy engineering students from Galway – Mayo Institute of Technology

 

GMIT visitEnergy engineering students from Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, led by Dr. John Lohan, participated in a study tour to the Aurivo Dairy Ingredients Plant (ADIP) in Ballaghaderreen, Co. Roscommon.  A meeting was held at the Northern & Western Regional Assembly where information about ADIP and renewable energy work in the region was discussed.

GMIT at NWRA
Colin Donohue (Optien), Gerry Lavelle (NWRA), John Lohan (GMIT), Katie Wright (NWRA), Pauline Leonard (WDC & GREBE) and Marty Dervin (Aurivo)

Marty Dervin, Energy Manager at ADIP, explained the background of the dairy ingredients plant and their energy management policy. Aurivo is the largest indigenous agricultural co-operative in the West of Ireland with business activities in consumer foods dairy products, dairy ingredients, retail stores, animal feeds and livestock trading.  Aurivo Dairy Ingredients have a strong focus on energy management and are continuously performing energy reduction projects onsite.

One of the most significant projects undertaken to date is the installation of a large scale biomass boiler for the supply of thermal energy for the site. It was revealed that the site was consuming 8 million litres of heavy fuel oil (HFO) every year, and this was replaced with a 12MW biomass plant in May 2014. This provided an opportunity for a long-term, sustainable energy solution for Aurivos dairy ingredients business. The installation of the biomass boiler has delivered a 60% reduction in the greenhouse gas emissions for the site and is a major part of Aurivos commitment to their Origin Green programme.

Colin Donohue of Optien imparted some of his experiences as an energy engineer.  Optien is focused on providing world class mentoring services to their clients to facilitate performance improvement within their organisations, and specialise in complex and energy intensive industries and leverage a data driven approach to facilitate performance improvement.

Pauline Leonard presented information on GREBE and other EU funded projects to the students, and outlined some of the opportunities available to them, whether through accessing EU funded research as part of their studies, or through innovation and entrepreneurship schemes funded by the EU.

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