Thursday, January 19, 2017

Socioeconomic impacts of a bio-oil production system: now new article available!

Local, regional and national level of the socioeconomic impacts of a bio-oil production system – A case in Lieksa, Finland

Lasse Okkonen & Olli Lehtonen

Volume 71, May 2017, Pages 103–111

 Full text link until March 9th:


The aim of this paper is to assess the direct and indirect socioeconomic impacts on a local, regional and national economy from forest biomass-based bio-oil production using input–output (I–O) analysis. We also analysed the importance of a bio-oil factory on the development of the local economy and determined the type of impacts bio-oil production has on population and employment development and on the public municipal economy. Our study area is located in a resource periphery far from growing regions and suffers from development problems and stagnating development trends. In terms of employment and income, bio-oil production could have a significant positive net impact on the local economy despite leakages to regional and national economies. The impacts of bio-oil production could enhance the future development prospects for the resource periphery according to positive changes in the net migration and by slowing population losses.


Socioeconomic impactsInput-output modellingBio-oil production

Friday, October 21, 2016

“Forest biomass, carbon neutrality and climate change mitigation” - a new report now published!

A new report on “Forest biomass, carbon neutrality and climate change mitigation” has been recently published by the European Forest Institute (EFI) within EFI´s “From Science to Policy” series.

Forest biomass, carbon neutrality and climate change mitigation
“World leaders finalized a historic global agreement to combat climate change in Paris in December 2015. They agreed on the need for global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to peak as soon as possible; to achieve GHG neutrality in the second half of this century; and to hold global warming well below 2°C relative to pre-industrial levels.”

“A key issue in the debate about the climate impacts of bioenergy is the question of ‘carbon neutrality’: bioenergy systems can influence the cycling of biogenic carbon between the biosphere and atmosphere, but studies sometimes disregard this when estimating GHG balances. In other words they assume that bioenergy systems can be considered neutral in regard to the biosphere-atmosphere CO2 flows.”

“This report provides insights into the current scientific debate on forest biomass, carbon neutrality and climate change mitigation. Its objective is to provide a balanced and policy-relevant synthesis on the issue, taking into account EU and global perspectives. Other societal objectives and interests are briefly touched upon but the focus is on climate change mitigation.”

The link to the series on EFI pages can be found here.

The link directly to the report can be found here.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Innovative concept of Biomass Logistic and Trade Centres: BioRES animation video is online!

The video describes the innovative concept of Biomass Logistic and Trade Centres (BLTCs) for developing domestic woody biomass value chains as renewable and environmental friendly source of energy.

BioRES aims at introducing the innovative concept of Biomass Logistic and Trade Centres (BLTCs) in Serbia, Croatia and Bulgaria based on international cooperation with European technology leaders. The BLTCs as regional hubs will help increasing local supply and demand for woody bioenergy products.

For more information on the BioRES project please visit the project webpage under:

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Best European Practices Report published: how to establish Biomass Logistics and Trade Centres (BLTC)

Biomass Logistic and Trade Centres (BLTCs) are local or regional centres with optimised logistics and trading organization, where different woody bioenergy products (or heat) are marketed at standardised quality focusing on the domestic market uptake. The BLTCs as regional hubs will help increasing local supply and demand for woody bioenergy products.

BioRES project studied the best European practices to establish Biomass Logistics and Trade Centres (BLTC) in Bulgaria, Serbia and Croatia.

The Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) is leading the project WP2: European best practices of Biomass Logistic and Trade Centres (BLTCs). The recently published report about good practice examples analysed 11 examples of operating BLTCs from Austria, Finland, Germany and Slovenia. The SWOT analyses of business models were carried out in the stakeholder workshops in the implementing countries to evaluate the possibilities and limitations to transfer the business models.

- The role of Luke in the project is to support the project partners in the implementing countries, particularly with logistics of biomass procurement and technological solutions related questions. Transfer of Finnish knowledge and experience through training of local stakeholders in Bulagaria, Serbia and Croatia is very important for the successful realization of the project objectives, says research scientist and project manager Karri Pasanen of Luke.

47 Participants from Serbia, Croatia and Bulgaria as well as project partners visited best practice examples of Biomass Logistic and Trade Centers (BLTCs) in Slovenia, Austria and Germany during a one week study tour 30th November – 4th December 2015. The program facilitated knowledge exchange between the stakeholders among the different countries. At the joint international workshop on the last day of the study tour lessons learned from the experiences of practitioners from the best practice countries and of key actors from Serbia, Croatia and Bulgaria were identified. The participants discussed on what are key success factors for setting up new BLTCs and how it can be transferred to the three implementing countries avoiding mistakes and learn from failures.

Lessons learned & Key success factors for local market development of woody bioenergy and setting-up BLTCs were identified:

– Finding (political) support on local level is important
– Optimize locations (supply and demand in the same region)
– Transparency of business (prices, contracts, reliability) – price shouldn’t be the only factor
– Synergies with other industries should be created
– Several main pillars of BLTC business will help to be/stay successful, e.g.selling and providing heat (not just biomass), services for potential customers (about investment in boilers, etc.),connection with other industries and businesses (for example tourism).
– Being a local stakeholder helps to establish trust
– Be a pioneer and have new ideas (e.g. facilitated by EU projects with European know-how exchange)
– Extending supply chains (e.g. from private forest owners)
– Motivated members/staff will ensure success (maintenance, customer service and sales)
– Establishing trustful and long term cooperation among suppliers and customers and between energy market actors (also in difficult economic times) is crucial for ensuring economic success of BLTCs
– Costumer development has to be considered as a major activity in establishing the BLTCs. This includes larger costumers, such as district heating plants and smaller individual costumers
– Local businesses and potential BLTC investors need to invest in raising awareness about the benefits of woody bioenergy products
– Developing suitable business models which fit to the specific local condition and nature of the BLTC operator setting has a major impact for the success of new BLTCs.
– Specific solutions, such as public private partnerships, local district heating systems, or cooperative structure, provided participants valuable insights about a large variety of ownership models, business segments and market development.

The successful establishment of BLTC is a longer process requiring persistence, and it usually takes several years to achieve positive financial results.

The report and other BioRES project results can be found through the following link:

BioRES has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under grant agreement No 645994.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Recently started NPA project: ‘Generating Renewable Energy Business Enterprise’ (GREBE)

 What is GREBE?‘Generating Renewable Energy Business Enterprise’ (GREBE) is a new 3-year (2015-2018) transnational project with a budget of €1.77m to support renewable energy energy enterprises across the West of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Finland, Norway and Iceland.   It is co-funded by the EU’s Northern Periphery & Arctic (NPA) Programme. It will focus on the challenges of peripheral and arctic regions as places for doing business, and help develop renewable energy (RE) business opportunities provided by extreme conditions.  The transnational project will be led by the Western Development Commission (WDC).

Why is GREBE happening?

Renewable Energy entrepreneurs working in the NPA area face challenges including a lack of critical mass, dispersed settlements, poor accessibility, vulnerability to climate change effects and limited networking opportunities are well recognised because of their peripheral location.  GREBE will equip SMEs and start-ups with the skills and confidence to overcome these challenges and use place based natural assets for RE to best sustainable effect. The renewable energy sector contributes to sustainable regional and rural development and has potential for future growth. 

Who will GREBE support?

GREBE will target and support start-ups and SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises) and recent graduates working in the renewable energy sector and based in one of the six participating partner regions of the project in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Finland, Norway and Iceland.  GREBE products and services will also be useful for existing organisations involved in renewable energy, local and regional authorities, business advisory organisations, as well as research and development institutes, technology groups, and universities and other educational institutes with an interest in rural economic development and/or renewable energy.

What will GREBE do?

GREBE will support renewable energy start-ups and SMEs:
·         To grow their business, to provide local jobs, and meet energy demands of local communities.
·         By supporting diversification of the technological capacity of SMEs and start-ups so that they can exploit the natural conditions of their locations.
·         By providing RE tailored, expert guidance and mentoring will be provided to ensure SMEs and start-ups have the knowledge and expertise to grow and expand their businesses.
·         By providing a platform for transnational sharing of knowledge to demonstrate the full potential of the RE sector by showcasing innovations on RE technology and strengthening accessibility to expertise and business support available locally and in other NPA regions.
·         To connect with other renewable energy businesses to develop new opportunities locally, regionally and transnationally through the Virtual Energy Ideas Hub.
·         By conducting research on the processes operating in the sector to improve understanding of the sector’s needs and make the case for public policy to support the sector.

How can GREBE be accessed?

Anyone working in the renewable energy sector can participate in:
·         Entrepreneur Enabler Scheme (mentoring scheme for startups and small business).
·         Online training & networking platform where they can access project reports and guidelines. 
·         Virtual Energy Ideas Hub where they can share experiences and seek advice from other organisations in the renewable energy sector.

Other GREBE information will be available through the project website (under development) and from any of the project partners. 

Where is GREBE happening and who is running it?

GREBE will be operated by eight partner organisations across six regions:
·         Western Development Commission (Ireland)
·         Action Renewables (Northern Ireland)
·         Fermanagh and Omagh District Council (Northern Ireland)
·         North Highland College (Scotland)
·         Natural Resources Institute Finland (Finland)
·         Karelia University of Applied Sciences (Finland)
·         Narvik Science Park (Norway)
·         Innovation Center Iceland (Iceland)

 GREBEs project activities have already begun with our first partner meeting in November.  For updates on future opportunities, please contact Pauline Leonard (, or via our social media links below:

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Socio-economic impact studies: two new articles!

Socio-economic impacts of a local bioenergy-based development strategy – The case of Pielinen Karelia, Finland

Olli Lehtonen & Lasse Okkonen


DOI: 10.1016/j.renene.2015.07.006

Full-text link until Sept 5th:

The regional bioeconomy has great importance for generating socio-economic impacts, especially in sparsely populated resource peripheries. The benefits include increased employment and income and improved security of supply. In this study, the modified regional input–output model of North Karelia, Finland is applied for analysing the socio-economic impacts of a bioenergy-based local development strategy. The results indicate significant socio-economic benefits of a local development strategy based on bioenergy. This benefit is corroborated by approximately 12 million euros in annual income impacts and 280 personnel working years in the district. New stimuli in a currently declining municipality could potentially break negative path dependency. New bioenergy and bioeconomic developments are promising solutions for the construction of place-based regional development in resource peripheries.

Socio-economic impacts of community wind power projects in Northern Scotland
Lasse Okkonen & Olli Lehtonen


DOI: 10.1016/j.renene.2015.07.047

Full text link until Sept 12th:

The production renewable energy is a promising sector for social enterprises located in the remote northern communities of Scotland. Community wind power offers a way to generate resources to be reinvested in local development purposes, such as community businesses, social services and infrastructure and communications. In this study, a regional input output modelling is applied to the analysis of the socio-economic impacts of 11 wind farms of community-based social enterprises located in the Outer Hebrides, Shetland and Orkney (Figure 1). The results show significant socio-economic benefits of re-investing revenues for social purposes. For instance, strategic re-investments of revenues in local social services generate about tenfold additional employment and income impact compared with the impact of wind power production. Our socio-economic analyses find that community-based social enterprises are one promising solution for place-based regional development in the European northern periphery.

Figure: Locations of the community wind farms analysed.

Further information can be asked from the authors Lasse Okkonen (lasse.okkonen(at) and Olli Lehtonen (olli.lehtonen(at)

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

INFRES, LogistEC and EuroPruning -seminar


Mobilization of woody biomass for energy and industrial use - Smart logistics for forest residues, prunings and dedicated plantations
– INFRES, LogistEC and  EuroPruning -seminar

Tuesday 19 May 2015, FAO Headquarters, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, Rome

Improved logistics will help create a market for biomass feedstocks such as agricultural residues, forestry residues, and energy crops. In the three EU-funded projects INFRES, LogistEC and EuroPrunning 63 organisations and companies, collaborate to develop such smart logistics. They field-demonstrate practical solutions implemented in rural communities to harvest, store and transport lignocellulosic biomass for the production of bioenergy and biomaterials.

Further to developing technologies and adapting machines, the three projects also assess the environmental, economic and social sustainability of the proposed supply chains, as well as the barriers to innovation in the respective sectors.

The one day conference will showcase key results from the three projects. Participation of the conference is free of charge. Travel, accommodation and meals are at your own expense.

Deadline for registration is one month prior to the event latest 19 April 2015.


More information, program and registration form

Johanna Routa
Researcher, Energy solutions
Natural Resources Institute Finland
PO Box 68 (Yliopistokatu 6), FI-80101 Joensuu
Phone: +358 29 532 5045