Knowledge transfer in the NPA

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The GREBE project arranged another possibility for the transfer of knowledge within the Northern Periphery area by hosting expert’s sessions with SME´s. The sessions were part of the GREBE project partner meeting from 20th to 22nd of March in Kokkola, Finland. Both the project partner meeting and knowledge exchange expert meetings took place in Kokkola during the event hosted by the Finnish GREBE partners LUKE and Karelia UAS.

Three SME´s came from Ireland to Finland to meet with experts and share knowledge relevant for their business. Two experts, Paula Jylhä and Veikko Möttönen from the GREBE partner organization Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE) were available to the participants for one-to-one meetings. In addition, Ville Kuittinen from Karelia University of Applied Sciences (Karelia UAS) shared his knowledge and ongoing activities in the renewable energy field.

Paula Jylhä, whose expertise is in forest technology and logistics, provided information to the Irish stakeholders on the topic. Paula is also coordinator of the project FOBIA and presented the project to all GREBE partners and SME´s. FOBIA is funded also under the Northern Periphery and Arctic programme. Veikko Möttönen, who has his area of expertise in wood mechanical properties and further processing of sawn wood, was able to provide information on practices to handle side streams and plans of companies for the production development.

This activity was part of the GREBE project´s “Knowledge & Technology Transfer and Business Delivery” work package led by LUKE. The aim of the expert sessions were to facilitate transnational effective knowledge transfer and collaboration in the renewable energy business sector, and to promote knowledge sharing and information exchange between actors in renewable energy supply and demand.

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Ireland’s forestry cover now at 10% of land area

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One in every 10 hectares of land is now planted in forestry, according to the latest figures. The Government’s Forestry Statistics paint a picture of the country’s afforested grounds amid increasing pressure to up volume of lands under trees due to greenhouse gas emissions targets. Despite Ireland falling far short of planting targets, the area of forest is estimated to stand at 731,650ha or 10.5% of the total land area of the country. Around 53% or 389,356ha is in public ownership, mainly Coillte.

The forested area acts as a carbon reservoir, amounting to 381 million tonnes of carbon in 2012 and between 2008 and 2012 it removed 16Mt of CO2 and offset 5% of all national emissions. There have been major concerns raised in western counties, particularly Leitrim, over the level of forestry planting in the region. Farmers account for 83% of private lands afforested between 1980 and 2016, with the average size of private grant-aided plantations around 8.8ha since 1980. It states farmer planting has dominated afforestation since 1993. With farmers and non-farmers now eligible for the same rate of grants and premium payments, the number of non-farmers planting has increased to 35% of the areas afforested in 2016. It points out that ‘non-farmers’ include retired farmers, sons and daughters of farmers and other relatives who may have inherited land.

Forestry and its role in carbon sequestration is an obvious part of any solution to the problem of emissions produced by agriculture. In 2016, Cork had the highest afforestation area at 608ha, followed by Clare at 552ha, Roscommon at 435ha, Leitrim at 434ha and Mayo at 429. There were 34 ‘non-farmers’ who accounted for 254ha in Cork in 2016, while 33 accounted for 238ha in Clare, 26 for 212ha in Cavan and 28 for 195ha in Leitrim. Efforts have been made recently to increase the volume of broadleaves planted by the Agriculture Department, with increased grant incentives, as the forest estate is made up of three quarters conifers and one quarter broadleaves. Sitka spruce is the most common species, accounting for 52% of the forest area. The report warns tree diseases impacting species such as larch and Chalara fraxinea or ash dieback may influence diversity into the future.

Source: https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/forestry-enviro/forestry/forestry-cover-now-at-10pc-of-land-area-36697235.html

Impacts of the Eno Energy Cooperative on the regional economy in 2000-2015

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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.

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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).

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Figure2: Income impacts of Eno Energy Cooperative in 2000-2015, including impacts of construction, heat production and heating cost savings (when re-invested).

 

 

Use of data and technology to grow and harvest more wood

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TECH4EFFECT is a collaborative research project to increase access to wood resources. Data and knowledge based management will enable more efficient silviculture and harvesting, but also reduction of soil and environmental impact from forest operations with the TECH4EFFECT benchmarking system.

The strategic objective of TECH4EFFECT is to improve the efficiency of European forest management by enabling a data-driven knowledge-based revolution of the European forest sector while also providing key incremental improvements in technology. The TECH4EFFECT (Knowledge and Technologies for Effective Wood Procurement) project recently published a new animation video: https://youtu.be/54DDLTon7rg

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The TECH4EFFECT project has received funding under the Horizon2020 BBI (Bio-Based-Industries) programme by the European Union. The TECH4EFFECT project objectives are relevant also for the Northern Periphery regions and GREBE partner countries.

More information about the project can be found under http://www.tech4effect.eu/

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Burning of fresh woodchips – discussion in the Finnish forest energy sector

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In the autumn of 2015, a 10 MW grate boiler plant and a modern flue gas scrubber with a heat pump connection were commissioned at Kauhavan Kaukolämpö Oy’s Kauhava plant. The concept of the plant and operations is based on the burning of fresh woodchips – from harvesting timber through the logistical chain to burning and heat recovery. Based on the operational experience of the past winter, the concept of using fresh woodchips is working very efficiently, providing significant cost savings in the acquisition of fuel to the plant operator. Despite high moisture, the burning of woodchips can be controlled and specific emissions are low. 

As a concept, the burning of fresh woodchips is new and rather heretical. The traditional way to burn woodchips is to store the felled timber on roadsides and allow them to dry before chipping and burning. Practical issues of logistics have also contributed to this model. It can be assumed that the concept of fresh woodchips works efficiently in part because a significant portion of the volatile components contained in timber is included in combustion, rather than allowed to evaporate into air.

The use of fresh woodchips requires a completely new kind of thinking from the plant and logistics. The concept can also be applied to old plants if the structure of the boiler is suitable for burning moist fuel. Fresh fuel also sets some requirements for the fuel storage and fuel supply systems.

An essential part of the system is, however, a flue gas scrubber system that efficiently recovers heat from flue gases, condensing the moisture of the fuel vaporised in the boiler. The scrubber should work reliably and efficiently under all conditions, regardless of the variation in the return temperature of district heating. With a heat pump integrated in the scrubber, flue gases can be cooled efficiently to even below +30°C, making it possible to utilise a significant part of the condensation heat of the water contained in the flue gas. For the purpose of optimising and ensuring the profitability of heat production, a heat pump scrubber has, in practice, been established as the only potential recovery technology for lost heat.

Summarized from article by Mika Nummila: http://www.elomatic.com/en/elomatic/expert-articles/voc-emissions-of-timber-felled-for-fuel-%E2%80%93-a-significant-energy-loss.html

Finnish Forest Sector Economic Outlook, released by Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke)

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The Finnish forest industry’s production and export volumes, except for paper, will increase over last year’s. Demand is highest for sawnwood, pulp and cardboard. According to Finnish Forest Sector Economic Outlook, released by Natural Resources Institute Finland, the competition will lead to falls in export prices in all main product groups except plywood this year, but prices will stabilise next year.

The consumption of forest chips is expected to grow to around 8.2 million m3

The low prices of fossil fuels and emissions allowances alongside uncertainties about subsidy policy are holding back investment decisions and curbing growth in forest energy use.

The consumption of forest chips is expected to grow to around 8.2 million m3 (solid volumes) this year, with equal figures forecast for next year. Correspondingly, the average purchase price of forest chips at plants in 2016 and 2017 is expected to remain at almost the same level as in 2015. This year, the production of wood pellets in Finland will remain equal to last year’s level, but will increase by a few percent next year.

Lively timber market with moderate price trends

As the use of timber in the forest industry grows, commercial fellings will rise in Finland this year to 59.5 million m3 and to 61.8 million m3 next year. Roundwood imports will rise slightly this year.

The stumpage prices of spruce sawlogs will rise only slightly this year, as demand for spruce sawnwood is good but export prices are rising only moderately. The increasing use of spruce pulpwood in cardboard manufacturing will raise stump prices slightly. The stumpage prices of other timber assortments will fall this year. Next year, the increase in softwood pulp production will increase demand for pine pulpwood and raise its stump price.

In non-industrial private forestry, gross stumpage earnings will rise this year to around EUR 1.7 billion, and to slightly more next year. The operating profit per hectare of private forests will be EUR 110 in 2016 and EUR 115 in 2017.” (Luke News)

The original news article can be found from the news section of GREBE partner Luke under: https://www.luke.fi/en/news/close-to-record-high-sawnwood-export-volumes/

Renewable energy investment support, education and tours on farm scale – the Finnish E-farm® concept

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The Finnish GREBE project partners Luke and Karelia UAS visited two E-farm® destinations provided by the Finnish E-farm® service using renewable energy solutions for energy production on a farm scale.

A perfect example for an E-farm® destination is the Itikan tila farm in the region of Northern Savo in Finland. The farm produces agricultural products, provides cultural and tourist services and has an own energy production on the farm including an own biodiesel production unit, a wind turbine, solar panels and a ground source heat pump.

The E-farm® service includes site visits to so-called “E-farm® destinations”, support services in form of calculations, education and training.  E-farm® offers for instance dedicated courses on biogas and wind energy. Also, E-farm® provides detailed investment calculations and support for farmers planning to invest in renewable energy solutions on their farm. By contacting the coordinator of E-farm®, customers can order visits or tours to any of the destinations in Finland, ask for support or other offered services at one contact point. Also tours to Central Europe can be organized. Companies behind the trademark are Envitecpolis Oy and Savon Siemen Oy.

The concept of combining conventional (farm) business with energy production and tourism has been presented in the Northern Periphery Programme (NPP) area before, the NPP project REMOTE worked with this idea for example. Besides of the availability of sustainable resources, the Northern Periphery area is unique in regards to the high number of remote dwellings in rural areas, the availability of unique cultural experiences and events for tourists. A large share of buildings has either no access to electricity or is dependent on producing energy from fossil fuels. A focus was to provide feasible solutions for renewable energies in remote areas adapted to the scale of sparsely populated areas and communities by providing information, products and services similar to the E-farm® concept especially dedicated for farms and their customers.

E-farm® has a network of farms across Finland coving a wide range of renewable energy solutions including for example wind mills, small scale CHP units from forest chips, biogas, biodiesel, solar panels, hydro power and ground source heat pump.

In addition to energy sales of renewable energy to the market, visits to the farms provide new business opportunities such as additional income to both the farm and the service and increase the awareness and experiences of energy production investments at farms.

More information on the E-farm® destinations and services offered can be found from the webpage (in Finnish): www.efarm.fi

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