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2010 Headlines





How much can you save with Solar PV?                                                                         

The SEAM Centre has developed a Solar PV Calculator which can help to better understand the economics of installing a Solar PV system. The calculator requires basic input figures, such as, instillation cost, capacity and percentage of energy used on-site. The calculator converts this information into a graph projecting payback time and financial benefit of the system. The Solar PV Calculator is a helpful comparison tool for anyone considering installing a Solar PV system. To download the Solar PV Calculator or to find out more about the SEAM Centre, please visit our Links Page.

The SEAM Centre is a new training, information and research facility for Sustainable Energy And Micro-renewables based at Inverness College UHI.

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SMALLEST reaches Mid-Term Landmark



SMALLEST partners gathered in the city of Joensuu last week where the SMALLEST Mid-term Conference was held in conjunction with a Northern Periphery Programme thematic conference on Sustainable Energy Systems, organised by the North Karelia University of Applied Sciences. Joensuu is a small city with a population just under 75,000 which is located in the province of Eastern Finland. Where better to discuss the pressing need to convert from unsustainable traditional energy generation to the new range of renewable energies than in temperatures dipping below -10°C? The conference was a great success, bringing together four Northern Periphery Programme projects concerned with the development of renewable energy across the Northern peripheral regions of Europe. The four projects were brought together to share ideas, progress to date and to identify gaps in current renewable energy provision across the Northern Periphery Region. Projects attending the conference were, SMALLEST, MicrE, PELLETime and RASLRES.

Two Scottish SMALLEST partners were invited to present during the conference. Director of the International Resources and Recycling Institute, Nick Lyth spoke on Community Renewable Energy Policy Making in Scotland and Dr Peter Dennis of Inverness College UHI presented on the provision of renewable energy training through SMALLEST at the SEAM Centre based in Inverness. Three excursions were also held during the conference, allowing the SMALLEST partners to observe and learn from renewable energy developments in the region.

For more information or presentations from the conference please visit the SES2010 website: Additionally, you can view the SMALLEST press release here.

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SMALLEST Smoothie Bike Whips up a Storm!



Action Renewables recently represented the SMALLEST project at an Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy event in Newry, Northern Ireland. Held on the 28th October, the event was organised by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive to promote Energy Saving Week, which ran from 25 -29 October. The event sought to encourage individuals and groups within the Newry community to reduce their carbon footprint and highlighted how to cut down on unnecessary energy usage as well as promoting renewable energy technologies.  Action Renewables shared a stand alongside local advisory services such as the Consumer Council and Energy Saving Trust to provide members of the public with information on the SMALLEST service. The Action Renewables ‘smoothie bike’ gathered a lot of attention with eager participants keen to peddle hard to not only make a delicious fruit smoothie but to also demonstrate just how much energy is required to power a typical household electric good.

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SMALLEST & MicrE visit Stormont


This summer, the Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Enterprise, Trade and Investment (NIACETI) announced a public enquiry to examine the barriers to renewable energy production and its associated potential contribution to the Northern Ireland economy. The call also requested suggestions as to how these barriers could be overcome to enable Northern Ireland to become a leader in renewable energy adoption.

For the purposes of providing a response to the NIACETI, it was deemed appropriate to submit a response document based on evidence gleaned from the SMALLEST and MicrE NPP funded renewable energy projects, which are currently being undertaken in several peripheral regions of Europe, including Northern Ireland. Whilst the SMALLEST project is concerned with RES usage amongst rural communities, the MicrE project considers the usage of RES among SMEs. Having interacted with multiple communities and SMEs during the SMALLEST and MicrE projects, several barriers to the adoption of renewable energy technologies have been identified. This has put the NPP project partners in an ideal situation to provide the NIACETI with evidence based on the peripheral European regions associated with both projects. All partner organisations in both projects submitted information to the University of Ulster (UU) relative to SME/community-based renewable energy issues in their regions, with UU compiling the final response document for submission to the NIACETI.

As a result of the submission, SMALLEST and MicrE members were invited to attend Stormont to give further evidence on the points raised in the response document. A panel of four members represented the two projects, including Nick Lyth from International Resources and Recycling Institute, and Leanne Rice from Action Renewables, who represented SMALLEST; whilst Derek Bond and David Hanna from the UU, represented MicrE.

A complete record of submissions and the NIACETI’s response to the enquiry will be published upon conclusion of the consultative process. In the interim period, the evidence gathered from the SMALLEST/ MicrE projects has led the project partners to put forward the following conclusions/recommendations based on their engagement with SMEs, communities and the experiences of the project partners:

  • Renewable energy incentives must be brought (and kept) in line with the rest of the UK and/or Ireland;
  • Increased regulation is required on the advisory and supporting agencies to build and maintain consumer confidence in such services;
  • Examples of best practise should be used in setting legislation, particularly those within similar socioeconomic regions such as Scotland; and
  • Training programs in non vocational courses should be promoted to achieve better management of renewable energy technologies upon installation.

To view a recording of the Enterprise Committee on BBC Democracy Live please follow the link below.

BBC- Democracy Live: the Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Enterprise, on 4 November 2010

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Innovative Renewable Energy Solutions for SME's (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises)




A free one-day workshop, is offered by SMALLEST associated programme MicrE, in partnership with Barony College Business Development Centre and Dumfries & Galloway Council. The workshop will be held at the Creebridge House Hotel, Newton Stewart, DG8 6NP on Tuesday 9th November 2010, from 10am until 4.15pm.


The workshop will provide you with the opportunity to:

- find out about the MicrE service and what it can do to help your business
- consider the scope for renewable energy solutions in SME’s in Dumfries & Galloway
- explore the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of a range of renewable
- energy technologies (micro-hydro, wind, anaerobic digestion, solar, biomass) at various scales
- review the issues to be considered by SME’s in selecting appropriate renewable energy solutions
- meet and quiz leading independent industry experts in these technologies
- meet and discuss with other interested SME representatives, sharing ideas, understanding and concerns
- launch a regional renewable energy knowledge and experience transfer network.

A Dumfries & Galloway Renewable Energy knowledge and experience transfer network, in which an e-community of like-minded enterprises are encouraged to support each other by sharing experience and good practice, will be launched during the event.

To find out more about the event and how to register, please click here.

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SMALLEST Partners Study Trip to Güssing

In September 2010 the SMALLEST partnership visited the region of Güssing in Austria to learn from the renewable energy developments which have crowned the region as a model of sustainable energy supply. During the study trip partners visited a biomass power plant in Güssing, a district heating plant combined with solar in Urbersdorf, a biogas plant in Strem, and also the Blue Chip Company specializing in the production of photovoltaic modules. The SMALLEST partners were also privileged to meet experts from the European Centre for Renewable Energy in Güssing and representatives of local communities – the Mayor of Güssing, Peter Vadasz, and the Mayor of Strem, Mr Bernhard Deutsch.

To hear more about the SMALLEST Study Trip to Güssing, please visit out case studies section by clicking here.

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Launch of the First SMALLEST Newsletter

The first SMALLEST newsletter was released this month. The newsletter provides details on the project, its partners and the on-going work of SMALLEST in assisting the smallest and most isolated communities to adopt renewable energy solutions. Updates from our partners working in Sweden, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, the Shetland Islands, Finland, Northern Ireland and Scotland are included in the latest version.

To view the first SMALLEST newsletter, please click here.

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Sustainable Energy Systems 2010 Conference!

The North Karelia University of Applied Sciences based in Finland are currently organising a Northern Periphery Programme (NPP) thematic conference on Sustainable Energy Systems. The Sustainable Energy Systems 2010 conference will focus on the opportunities and challenges of renewable energy systems across the northern peripheral regions of Europe. The conference will take place in Joensuu, Finland on the 24th and 25th of November 2010. Participants from NPP projects, MicrE, PELLETime and SMALLEST will be attending the conference.

 For further details on the event, including the programme, please click here.

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European Union Renewables Funding for North-East Scotland communities


European partners are meeting this week in Strathpeffer to discuss a new funding opportunity for communities in North-East Scotland.  The SMALLEST programme is designed to extend the potential for communities interested in renewable energy in the region.

Hosting the meeting are the Scottish Lead Partner, International Resources and Recycling Institute, and fellow Scottish partners, Inverness College, and PURE Energy Centre, from Shetland.  Andrew Leaver of Inverness College is delighted that such an important EU programme should choose to visit the region: “This is incredibly important for our communities.  We are already working hard to encourage renewable energy in our region, and the support offered by the Northern Periphery Programme, funded by the European Union, is an endorsement of everything we are doing.”

The Lead Partner in the project is also Scottish.  Nick Lyth, of International Resources and Recycling Institute, explains why: “I think a Scottish Lead Partner is especially relevant for this Northern Periphery Programme, because the Scottish Government is already doing so much good work for the future of renewables among rural communities.  Its work in the North-East is exemplary.”

During their visit, partners will be meeting local company, Community Energy Scotland, based in Dingwall. CES is considered to be leading Europe in the renewable energy advisory service it supplies to communities.  Chief Executive, Nicholas Gubbins says: “It is a pleasure to welcome the SMALLEST programme to the region. This is evidence of the EU’s commitment to the cause that we in Scotland have pursued for the last ten years.  Community renewable energy is the grass roots of energy usage.  We have to get it right, and, thanks to the CARES programme funded by Scottish Government, as well as HIE’s programme in the Highlands & Islands, Community Energy Scotland is able to help make this happen.”

Partners in SMALLEST will be visiting the community of Alness, which has already converted to renewable energy in a variety of initiatives supported by CES.  They will also be hearing from CES about its plans and systems for encouraging renewable energy use in Scottish communities.  The meeting is being held at the Pavilion in Strathpeffer on Tuesday and Wednesday, 15th/16th June.

To view the full release, please click here.

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MicrE Scottish Regional Seminar



The Micro Waste to Energy Business: micro energy to rural enterprise (MicrE) programme is a Northern Periphery Project which shares many parallel aims to the SMALLEST project. MicrE provides a service to rural Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SME’s) in the Northern Periphery Region, which exploits technologies for renewable energy solutions, as well as energy generation from by-products and waste. As an associated project to SMALLEST, MicrE recently shared results from their Regional Seminar held in Scotland on the 2nd of June with SMALLEST. Over 50 local SME’s from the Dumfries and Galloway region attended the Regional Seminar to learn about the benefits of the MicrE service. The seminar drew a wide range of expertise from the local area and successfully encouraged open and rich discussion on renewable energy solutions for SME’s in the South West of Scotland. Many of the points raised in the seminar by SME's are equally relevant to community groups looking to adopt renewable energy solutions.

To view the full summary review of the event, please click here.

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A new member to join the SMALLEST Team!

Helena Puhakka-Tarvainen
Helena Puhakka-Tarvainen
A respected member of the SMALLEST team will be leaving us at the end of July. Dr. Ari Pappinen, who has been working at the North Karelia University of Applied Sciences (NKUAS) in Finland, has recently been appointed Professor at the University of Eastern Finland. Warm congratulations are sent to Dr. Ari Pappinen from International Resources and Recycling Institute and the entire SMALLEST Team; we wish him all the best in his new position at the University of Eastern Finland. Thanks are also sent out to Ari for all the valuable input he has contributed to the SMALLEST project since it commenced in August 2009. Helena Puhakka-Tarvainen, a prominent and well liked member of the SMALLEST Team, will be stepping up to fill Ari’s position as lead representative and steering group member for NKUAS in the SMALLEST project. We look forward to working with Helena in progressing the SMALLEST project across Finland.

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Action Renewables and University of Ulster Demonstrate that all good things come in the “SMALLEST” of packages


Two of the SMALLEST partners, Action Renewables and the University of Ulster, launched an innovative new service in May which will help make renewable energy more accessible to the smallest and most remote communities throughout Northern Ireland.

The ‘SMALLEST’ service (Solutions for Microgeneration that ALLow Energy Saving Technologies), is a European funded project which will establish a free ‘hand-holding’ service across all Northern Periphery Programme (NPP) partner regions, including Northern Ireland, providing support for rural communities interested in undertaking renewable energy projects.

The service is specifically designed to increase awareness of the potential benefits of renewable energy for small communities and will also provide support and assistance in the planning of green energy generation projects.

The ‘SMALLEST’ service will help communities identify the best way to convert from traditional to renewable energy generation and will provide communities with a mentoring service offering access to trained and qualified professional and practical support. The project will also introduce innovative training and mentoring programmes for existing advisory services.

The ‘SMALLEST’ project, which was officially launched at the Ecos Centre in Ballymena, will run for three years until June 2012 during which time Action Renewables and the Ulster Business School at the University of Ulster, Coleraine will also be working in collaboration with international project partners from Finland, Iceland, Greenland, the Faroe Islands, the Shetland Islands, Scotland and Sweden.

Terry Waugh, deputy director, Action Renewables commented: “The “SMALLEST” service will encourage and stimulate renewable energy generation in remote rural communities and as a result assist in reducing, costs, pollution, environmental damage, and encourage self-reliance for future energy generation. Most importantly, this service will standardise support processes and allow communities to draw upon pooled skills and shared knowledge.”

Terry continues: “In the past, organisations in rural communities have found it difficult to find the guidance and assistance needed to implement such projects. For example, Corrymeela, a cross-community residential centre for peace and reconciliation in Ballycastle is one such organisation which have benefited from renewable energies in the form of solar water heating panels and a 15kW wind turbine. They encountered a number of stumbling blocks during the process of sourcing and installing these technologies and found that grant application forms were difficult to understand and that there was a general lack of impartial, independent information and advice available to them. The SMALLEST project will address these shortcomings and provide training and further information on the various technologies available making renewable energy solutions more accessible to all parts of the community – no matter how remote.”

The project is open to rural organisations throughout Northern Periphery Programme which covers Scotland, Northern Ireland, Faroe Islands, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Greenland, Norway, and Finland. Anyone interested in benefiting from this free service should contact the SMALLEST lead partner, the International Resources and Recycling Institute ( You can also contact specific partners directly using contact details on the Partners page.

For interested parties in Northern Ireland please contact Leanne Rice at Action Renewables on 028 9073 7868 for further information or log on to

Action Renewables

Action Renewables is the leading organisation in Northern Ireland in the promotion and development of renewable energy.

Action Renewables delivers a large portfolio of programmes including:

• general awareness raising
• road shows
• seminars
• performance monitoring of technologies
• research and evaluation
• policy
• lobbying

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