Bioenergy 2017: The Irish Bioenergy Association hosts the National Bioenergy Conference

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A strong attendance list of 190 were present at the annual IrBEA Bioenergy Conference in Dublin on Thursday 9th February.

The programme featured four sessions, the first session focused on policy where Fergus Leamy, CEO of Coillte, the leading forestry, land owning, renewable energy and panel products business in Ireland, provided high-level insights on how we in Ireland can optimize our bioenergy potential. Matthew Clancy, Programme Manager for Low-Carbon Technologies at the SEAI talked about the detailed outlook and challenges for bioenergy in Ireland.

The timing of this conference was particularly appropriate in light of the final consultation on the Government’s proposed introduction of a renewable heat incentive (RHI). This very welcome development can be the key to unlocking the potential of bioenergy in Ireland. Getting to our renewable energy and climate change targets, generating energy from indigenous resources, reducing our dependence on imported fossil fuels, and promoting jobs and economic activity across the entire country, are just some of the benefits.

Reflecting the importance of this challenge we had a session on the RHI consultation delivered by Tom Bruton in the mid-morning sessions. Key speakers and advisors were present at the conference, and the attendees were given the opportunity to partake in a Q&A session to drum up ideas for a response to the consultation. IrBEA will submit a consultation response in mid-March.

After lunch, Session 3 concentrated on Project Finance. Garrett Monaghan of Arthur Cox covered the area of executing and financing biomass projects. He confirmed that capital is available for biomass projects but stressed the importance of planning, having experts on hand, and using funders as allies to help you get the job done. Garrett also looked at RHI implementation and addressed some of the current issues. Russell Smyth (KPMG) walked us through many projects scenarios which are up and running in the AD and W-E sector; commenting that there was a robust equity investment appetite for the sector.

Franceso Panzeri of Demetra gave the history of engineering and designing the ADBag. The solution is a modular system based on a prefabricated plastic bag, which is easy to be installed and maintained. Frank Donnelly of Northway Mushrooms detailed hands-on experiences of his farming business and how his dependence on different renewable energy supplies including biomass boilers and large solar panel investment has helped keep his business viable in changing economic times.

Further information about the Irish Bioenergy Association can be found on their website: http://www.irbea.org/

Launch of Renewable Business Portal at the successful seminar “From resource to sustainable business” & GREBE policy workshop

The GREBE project successfully organized – in cooperation with the IEA Bioenergy Task 43 – the joint seminar “From resource to sustainable business” and the GREBE policy workshop. Both, seminar and policy workshop took place on the 9th of February 2017 in Joensuu, Finland.

The goal of this seminar was to discuss the topics and aims of GREBE and IEA Bioenergy Task 43 presenting and elaborating key aspects and opportunities from the resource to a sustainable business for sustainable energy. The joint seminar “From resource to sustainable business” included discussions of the more than 40 participants around the topics “Biomass Feedstocks for Energy Markets”, “Generating Renewable Energy business”, “Mentoring & support for RE business” and “Global energy markets & opportunities for sustainable business”.

A key milestone for GREBE was the launch of the Renewable Business Portal. Transnational sharing of knowledge is a key part of the GREBE project and therefore the portal provides a platform to demonstrate the full potential of the renewable energy (RE) sector and showcase innovations in RE technology. The Virtual Energy Ideas Hub enables connecting renewable energy businesses to develop new opportunities locally, regionally and transnationally.

The GREBE policy workshop after the seminar focused on energy policy and promotion of renewable energy. The GREBE policy workshop dealt with current issues from the Finnish and North Karelian point of view. There was active participation from regional stakeholders as well as from international participants (IEA Bioenergy Task 43 & GREBE). The results of the workshop will be utilized in drafting the roadmap towards an oil-free and low-carbon North Karelia 2040.  Details of this will be included in our next e-zine.

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Alternatively, participants had the opportunity to join an excursion in the Joensuu region visiting first the company Kesla Oyj and then the Sirkkala Energy Park.  The successful day ended with a joint dinner. The event was co-organized by the GREBE partners Luke and Karelia UAS.

The GREBE Renewable Business Portal can be found under: www.renewablebusiness.eu

The GREBE Project meets in Finland

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The GREBE project partners are holding their fifth partner meeting this week in a very cold (minus 25oC) Joensuu, Finland.   The Western Development Commission and the Finnish partners Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE) and Karelia University of Applied Sciences have been working together to prepare a programme to fit in as much as possible.

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The first part of our partner meeting was held today where we discussed plans for rolling out our Entrepreneur Enabler Scheme to the partner regions. The meeting will continue tomorrow where discussion on other work package activities will take place. Our meeting is taking place in Metla House where LUKE are based. Then on Thursday we will hold a joint seminar with IEA Bioenergy Task 43 ‘From Resource to Sustainable Business’.  On Thursday afternoon, we will hold two parallel sessions of either site visits to Kesla Forest Technology and Sirkkala Energy Park or a GREBE Policy Workshop.  We will have details of our activities in future blog posts and our next e-zine.

The IrBEA National Bioenergy Conference – Thursday 9th February 2017

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‘Bioenergy 2017’ – The IrBEA National Bioenergy Conference will be held at the Castleknock Hotel, Dublin on Thursday 9th February.

2017 looks to be a pivotal year for Ireland’s energy policy; the industry expects clarity by then for the roll-out of a Renewable Heat Incentive.  It’s imperative that the Irish Government develops an energy policy that allows for greater growth in the bioenergy sector. This will be under discussion at the conference.

The conference will have a strong line up of speakers, both international and national, presenting industry models, policy perspectives and investment opportunities to stimulate lively discussion and strong media coverage.

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More on what will be discussed at the event can be found on the IrBEA website: http://www.irbea.org/bioenergy-2017-irbea-national-bioenergy-conference/

The GREBE Business Supports Catalogue

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This GREBE Business Supports Catalogue has been developed following a review of Renewable Energy business support funding mechanisms and funding options available to support the development of renewable businesses in the NPA region.

It provides information on the funding mechanisms currently available in the partner regions (Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Norway and Scotland).  The information will be useful to both funding agencies (e.g. business support agencies and municipalities) and to SMEs giving details of funding options available in their regions.

The main focus is on public body support for renewable businesses but both private sector and social investment options have been included where appropriate. The supports included are for SMEs and Micro businesses but also include options for those SMEs expected to grow rapidly (e.g. High Potential Start Ups).  The business support funding mechanisms considered vary from standard ‘hard’ business support options (e.g. loans and venture capital) to softer supports (e.g. innovation schemes, business partner search supports etc.)

A short introduction on the methods and types of supports in each partner region is provided.  Information for each partner region is it then organised under the following categories:

  • Financial Support (grants, loans, equity investment)
  • Taxation or welfare supports or concessions for businesses
  • Soft supports e.g. mentoring, training, specialist advice, networks
  • Research and Development Supports
  • Social and Community supports (focused on not for profit)
  • Other- e.g. Incubation space or office space etc.

Within each of these categories there is considerable variation in the ways different funding options are implemented and these differences will impact on the success of schemes. We hope that by using this catalogue those who seeking funding and support for renewable businesses will have a clear portfolio of options which are available to them.

In the future the information in this catalogue will be used to create a web based tool allowing users to search for available funding options and to consider different types of funding available in each region.  The catalogues is available on the GREBE project website here

Christmas Greetings from the GREBE Project

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From all of us at GREBE Project, we wish all our followers a very Happy Christmas & all the very best wishes for 2017.

2017 will be a busy year for GREBE, and in February will we have our next partner meeting in Joensuu, Finland where we will launch our online knowledge sharing platform. We are joining with IEA Bioenergy Task 43 to hold a joint seminar on Thursday 9th February ‘From resource to sustainable business’.  Further details on this will be available in January on our website http://www.grebeproject.eu/ and social media.

Growth strategy guidelines for SMEs and micro-enterprises and a report identifying technologies which can be transferred from areas of best practice to areas where renewable energy uptake is low will also be published in February.  Later in 2017, we will roll out of Entrepreneur Enabler Scheme in Ireland, Scotland, Finland, Norway and Iceland.

Please continue to follow our project and share with your colleagues and friends !

GREBE E-Zine No. 3 is launched

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The GREBE Project has launched its third e-zine to showcase the activities and ongoing goals of the project.

Over the past couple of months, we have continued to carry out the project activities and meet our objectives. This e-zine will highlight details of our Summary Report on the relevant policy initiatives in the partner regions and showcase of eleven examples of best practice policy initiatives, our Business Supports Catalogue for Renewable Businesses and details of four participating companies in our Entrepreneur Enabler Scheme. To read our e-zine, please click here

We would like to wish all our readers a happy Christmas and the very best wishes for 2017.