Power from Biomass project final seminar, Monday 11th June, Joensuu

KUAS

The Rural development programme co-financed Power from Biomass project completed its work in June 2018 after three years of renewable energy development in North Karelia, Finland. The project cooperating closely with GREBE in North Karelia, resulted in several new investments including two solar PV and energy storage systems in community buildings of Höljäkkä and Haikola in Nurmes. Project also established a regional network of 15 renewable energy demonstration sites.

The final seminar held in Joensuu, presented projects main outputs, latest developments in renewable electricity production, biomass-based small-scale combined heat and power, solar energy project of heat enterprises, and intelligent solar PV systems.

Project manager Antti Niemi from Pielinen Karelia Development Company PIKES Ltd. summarized the project results. The project established a regional demonstration network with 15 sites demonstrating renewable energy production systems. The Energiaraitti website presents the technical and economic information and live-information of solar PV systems. New production units established were mostly solar PV and some energy storages systems in farms, other rural enterprises and community buildings. The biomass-based renewable energy had a challenging business environment due to low price of fossil fuel oil. Despite, also some new biomass-based energy systems were established.

Project manager Kim Blomqvist from Karelia UAS presented the solar PV systems integrated into biomass-based district heating plants. Investments were made for 7 district heating plants with total annual production of 52 MWh. The heating plans were considered suitable for the solar PV as they have balanced electricity demand.

Marketing and product development manager Kimmo Tolvanen, representing regional energy company PKS, presented an in-depth overview of the energy system development in Finland and North Karelia. The main game changers in the energy system are expected to consist of wind and solar power production, energy storages and digitalization working all effectively together. The energy grid changes toward decentralised, intelligent and adaptive systems are evident. In addition, electricity markets are in transition, and new service developments are expected throughout the system from production to consumption.

Project coordinator Anssi Kokkonen from Karelia UAS presented the technical solutions of biomass-based combined heat and power production. The solutions included woodchip gasification plant (Volter Ltd.), Nano-chp Stirling engine (9 kWth + 0.6 kWe), fuelled by wood pellets (Ökofen).  Both solutions are demonstrated at Sirkkala Energy Park by Karelia UAS.

Project manager Toni Hannula from energy company ESE (Etelä-Savon Energia, Mikkeli) presented intelligent solar power systems. The smart energy transition project by Lappeenranta Technological University has generated an overview of the systems change. The ESE has been successful in establishing biogas fuel stations, and piloting intelligent solar PV systems with 48 hours production forecast and directing the production optimally depending on energy price (electricity spot-price optimizing) and production and consumption loads. The system is piloted in Lumme Energia Oy estates.

The Power from Biomass project developed as a diverse renewable energy project and delivered several new services and RE production sites were established. The project had an international element through cooperation and networks of the GREBE project.

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LUKE investigates alternatives to side-stream utilisation of Woodpolis Timber Cluster

LUKE1

Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE) made a survey on the alternative uses of side streams of wood processing in Woodpolis industrial area in the City of Kuhmo. Woodpolis Timber Cluster consists of Kuhmo Ltd.’s large saw mill and some ten SME companies specialised in further processing of sawn timber and side-streams of wood processing. A good example of new growing industries in the area are CLT, cross laminated timber and element factories producing prefabricated building products for multi-storey and one-storey buildings, such as residential, office, school and kindergarten houses.

In addition to saw mill chips supplied to pulp mill, versatile side streams from saw dust and bark to massive left-over pieces of log house and CLT construction are produced in the area. In 2015, of the total amount of 475,000MWh of bioenergy from the side streams 376,000MWh was used at the local CHP plant or for the briquette and pellet production, and 99,000MWh was sold to other CHP plants in Northern Finland. However, oversupply of wood chips and pellets for bioenergy as well as long transport distances reduce the profitability of selling the entire excessive bioenergy fraction. Increase of pellet or briquette production is not seen very profitable either. Therefore, new ways of utilizing side streams are actively sought.

The most technically challenging side-stream fraction is CLT leftover pieces because of their variation in shape, dimensions and chemical composition. Once the product is piled up with gluing, chipping it back to bioenergy or bio-refinery fractions is not easy or reasonable. New ways of utilizing them are sought from packaging and wood panel industries. If chipped, semi-finished products for manufacturing of for example wood-plastic composites should be given preference over bioenergy uses.

LUKE2

Bioethanol production would be a feasible step in the further processing of more advanced biofuel products from saw dust, planer shavings and bark. Biochar production for purposes which require bioactivity from the char, or for metallurgic processes may also provide promising options. In addition, saw dust and bark contain extracts some of which are already in the markets: for example, pine tar, turpentine, pyroligneous acid, and adhesives. However, bio-refineries (e.g. bioethanol plants) usually require large amounts of raw materials to be technically feasible and economically profitable, much more than what is generated now in Woodpolis industrial area.

Probably, the best potential for local bio-refinery production would be in high priced bioactive compounds or upgraded raw materials intended for uses like in health products, cosmetics, or food products. In all cases, new bio-refinery production in the Woodpolis area requires investments and operating capital, and attraction for new initiated entrepreneurship. There are no ready-made solutions for a new bio-refinery production. Technical implementation must be planned and tested on a realistic raw material basis and market perspective with a convincing proof-of-concept before the start of a full scale production. If they are realized, the new large-scale bio-refinery projects going on in Northern and Eastern Finland, St1’s bioethanol factory and KaiCell Fiber’s pulpmill and related bio-refinery activities being the closest, may increase quickly the demand of the side-streams generated in the Woodpolis industrial area.

The entrepreneurial community of Woodpolis Timber Cluster has worked together for a long time, which has enabled the refinement of joint development work and common practices. Therefore, Woodpolis can offer an example for other wood-based industrial clusters of the same kind about good practices, collaboration between SMEs and large companies regarding cooperation and new options to acquire and market raw materials, as well as product and service development activities.

Entrepreneur Enabler Scheme EES Roll–out completed successfully in Finland

KUAS

The roll-out of the GREBE EES in North Karelia took place in February-April. Three companies Eno Energy Cooperative, Rajaforest Ltd. and Havel Ltd. attended in mentoring sessions together with the Spiralia Ltd. – an experienced SME mentoring and consultancy. The results of the EES were positive: there was initiation of new business cooperation, business plan development for a new innovative technology, introduction of LEAN quality management principles, among others.

Eno Energy Cooperative is in a phase of business renewing and thus the focus was in creating and diversifying collaboration with other energy enterprises. These discussions identified opportunities to cooperate in acquisitions and raw material procurements, and potential of additional business activities in wood fuel sector. Rajaforest Ltd. had a technology development case on biomass drying and received support in business planning. Havel Ltd. Benefited from information on renewable alternatives for plastic raw materials, as well as introduction of LEAN quality management in production.

The EES process was rolled-out successfully as it resulted in new collaborations and business activities. The process, developed in GREBE project, will be further adopted for regional use in North Karelia. It was identified that there is still further work to do to establish stronger mentor networks, develop orientation guidance for attending businesses, disseminate the scheme for larger audience, and establish funding base for the service. One potential continuation is to integrate the EES into a new regional renewable energy research and development project prepared by the Karelia UAS and Finnish Forest Centre.

The GREBE project meets in Thurso, Scotland in May 22nd-24th, which provides a unique opportunity to share the EES roll-out experiences between the NPA Programme regions.

GREBE publishes its eight project e-zine

Ezine No8 Front Page

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

Since December we have continued to carry out the project activities and meet our objectives. Our 8th partner meeting in Kokkola was hosted by LUKE & Karelia UAS, and included a visit to the Vaasa Energy Week for attending SME’s. The aim was to highlight the benefits of renewable energy for SME’s and start-up businesses, and also give participants the opportunity to meet with biomass experts from the Natural Resources Institute in Finland. Details can be found on Page 3.

The two case reports on the transfer of technology and knowledge in the NPA have now been completed and further details are on Page 4. We also have details of the 5.2 Report (Advice Notes) on Page 7. Details of both can be found on the publications page of our website http://grebeproject.eu/publication/.

The GREBE Industry Advisory Group (IAG) held its third annual meeting in Finland and was organized by LUKE. Further details are on Page 3. The Environmental Research Institute held an important workshop for the further development of Orkney’s Hydrogen Economy. Details can be found on Page 5. We also have an update of EES in partner regions on Page 8.

We have a number of upcoming events and will hold our final partner meeting in Thurso in Scotland in late May. We will hold our final conference ‘Local opportunities through Nordic cooperation’ in Thurso on Thursday 24th May 2018. Details can be found on Page 9. Action Renewables are holding a GREBE conference in Belfast on Thursday 21st June and details can also be found on Page 9.

Regional Heat Study Workshops – Tuesday 15th May (Ballinasloe) & Wednesday 16th May (Ballybofey)

GREBE - WDC Regional Biomass Study Workshops - May 2018

The Western Development Commission (WDC) commissioned a regional renewable energy analysis on the use of biomass as a local contribution to the national renewable heat target and develop a range of actions to support the development of renewable energy in the region under the Action Plan for Jobs.  

The aim of this study is to inform how the WDC can support and develop biomass use in the Western region.  This study is now complete and RE:HEAT will present their findings in two workshops.

Tuesday 15th May, 2.00pm at the Shearwater Hotel, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway

Wednesday 16th May, 10.00am at Jacksons Hotel, Ballybofey, Co. Donegal

Participants will have the opportunity to engage with RE:HEAT consultants during the workshop and informally during the workshop lunch.

Agenda for Ballinasloe (Tuesday 15th – afternoon session)

Agenda1

Agenda for Ballybofey (Wednesday 16th – morning session)

Agenda2

Register your interest in attending via email to tomasmahon@wdc.ie or paulineleonard@wdc.ie or by phone to the WDC offices at +353 94 986 1881.  Closing date for registration is Thursday 10th May 2018.  While these events are free of charge, registration is required.

A summary of this report can be found here

Heat Entrepreneurs’ meeting, April 4th Kontiolahti, Finland

KUAS

Annual meeting of the Finnish Heat Entrepreneurs in North Karelia was organised by the Finnish Forest Centre in April 4th Kontiolahti. The event focused on the energy wood markets and current development challenges, new harvesting method trials, drying of wood by using excess heat of energy plants, and socio-economic impacts of local heat entrepreneurships. After the meeting, participants had a visit to the Kontiolahti 1.5 MW heating plant equipped with a 7.6 kW solar power system.

Adjunct professor Yrjö Nuutinen from LUKE introduced latest research on the new corridor thinning method. The method – with 1-2 thinning corridors harvested in different formations – has been earlier applied in Sweden, US and Canada. Now the corridor thinning is studied and tested for pine dominated first thinning stands in Finland, aiming that it will be a generally accepted thinning method and it fulfills the forest management requirements of Forestry Centre.

The latest results on the socio-economic impacts of Eno Energy Cooperative were presented by GREBE partner Dr Lasse Okkonen from Karelia UAS. The total employment impacts of the Eno Energy Cooperative in 2000-2015, were approximately 160 FTE’s and total income impact in the same period about 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.

Bioeconomy expert Urpo Hassinen, from the Finnish Forest Centre, presented the latest results on the firewood drying by utilising excess heat of the heating plants. There was potential, especially when existing infrastructure could be utilised. Drying of woodfuel could also compensate the decreasing heat demand resulting from closure of public estates in rural areas.

CEO Janne Tahvanainen presented the market outlook from an industry perspective. The market fluctuations, caused by the weather challenges in last summer and autumn, as well as varying imports from Russia, were discussed. Weather challenges were considered a most important factor affecting current markets. For instance snow damages have increased harvesting volumes in northern part of North Karelia, and moist summers and autumns have affected biomass drying. Impacts of weather conditions on RE markets are being further investigated through the GREBE project during this spring.

Knowledge transfer in the NPA

Meeting

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.