First Leitrim volunteers complete European Solidarity Corps camp

This summer Good Energies Alliance Ireland sent six young people to Xylokastro, Greece to take care of the local woodland and prevent forest fires as part of the new European Solidarity Corps programme. They worked for the local municipality together with young people from Denmark, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Turkey, Poland and France.

The first group of volunteers is only back from their month of volunteering and they shared their impressions with us.

Louis Moreau, 21, Drumsna

“My trip to Greece was a great learning experience. I enjoyed myself thoroughly while facing a number of challenges in an unfamiliar country. The people I engaged with were friendly and welcoming, and the experience as a whole has definitely helped me to grow as a person”.

Christian Wynne, 19, Drumshanbo

“The work we done in Greece involved planting trees, painting a school fence and collecting rubbish around Xylokastro. What surprised me most about Greece was the people and how friendly they were, even though most didn’t speak fluent English they still made you feel very comfortable and at home. The project overall made me a better and more confident person. Although there were slight challenges with language and different opinions, I learned to overcome them and communicate together to discuss it. I have no regrets going to Greece, and would recommend it to anyone. It’s been a memorable experience and I won’t forget it”.

Shane Cronogue, 25, Carrick-on-Shannon

“The work I did in Xylokastro was very rewarding and it was great to work as a team helping to paint the local school.
It was great to learn about other people’s culture.The project was sometimes challenging and other times fun, but it was great to see everyone motivated and helped each other to finish work. I feel I have grown as a person and have made new friends and created special memories during my stay in Xylokastro”.

 

Alexandra Peralaika

Boyle ready to save €6.1 million on energy needs

Energy transition at your doorstep

A survey study carried out by Good Energies Alliance Ireland on household energy uses in Boyle (Co. Roscommon) discovered that the town spends over €4 million on fossil fuels each year. This not only generates local pollution and contributes to the climate crisis, but also cripples the local economy, as this money flows out of it.

GEAI has developed a Powerful Community Pathway for Boyle that shows untapped potential for households to save money by cutting over €6 million off energy costs in five years. At the same time, phasing out from fossil fuels brings several health, social and environmental advantages the community can benefit from. Figure below shows the increasing trend of annual savings for the 2019-2025 time horizon.

This equals to a 41% drop in climate-harmful emissions.

The report demonstrates that a clean and just energy transition is accessible, pays back in the short run and empowered communities can lead it. We are indeed proud to announce that, as a result of GEAI study, Boyle citizens have embarked on a journey to become a Sustainable Energy Community, receiving grants and mentorship from SEAI.

We hope our work can inspire other communities all over Ireland who want to reduce their carbon footprint and improve their standard of living.

Find out more by downloading the report and the key findings in our publication page.

Areas of transition

Households can take a range of actions to save on energy costs. We have grouped them into four areas.

Here are a few examples of actions below, check the full list in the report. 

Knowledge
To kickstart realistic transition we need to know more about our energy use: tracking energy costs, switching energy suppliers for better rates and keeping an eye on grants available.
Transport
Reduce car journeys and increase public transport use, when possible, and eventually switch to electric vehicles.
Houses
Get a Building Energy Rating (BER) of your home and consider insulation works as a good start, followed by installing renewable energy systems on-site.
Community
Community engagement is the driving force of the transition. Without a collective effort the transition is unlikely to escalate.

Main figures

The average households spends €4,513 per year for its energy needs (heating + electricity + transport). Only 8.6% of that is spent on renewable energy.

Even though thermal energy costs account for just 30% of the total, thermal energy has the largest climate impact share, at 54% of the total carbon emissions. This is due to high reliance on oil and solid fuels for heating purposes, which are “cheap” emitters of greenhouse gases. On the other hand, electricity has the highest carbon content per unit of energy (kgCO2 per kWh produced), due to the national electric grid running for the major part on natural gas.

Transport energy, at 31%, has the second largest impact, due to dominance of privately-owned diesel and petrol cars (6 cars for every 10 residents).

The Household Energy Survey

This study has been managed by GEAI and carried out by European Erasmus+ volunteers with IT Sligo technical support.

In order to obtain the energy profile of the typical Boyle household, a doorstep survey was designed and administered to over 100 households in town, representing 10% of the total population. The survey included details of house age and characteristics, types of energy used, monthly or annual expenditure on electricity, heating and transport.

European volunteers taking a respondent answers

Once the data were collected and analyzed, a transition scenario to 2025 was developed, based on the transition areas and actions described above.  The results were presented to Boyle community at an “Energy Challenge” seminar.

We are currently considering replication of the project in other towns in Ireland and partnership in Europe.


Files:

Boyle Energy Challenge Seminar

Our Boyle Energy Seminar took place Monday 17th June at the Boyle Community College. After conducting energy surveys in April and May for the households of Boyle, we finally presented the results of the amount of energy, money and CO2 emissions that the town accounts for. The numbers were shocking, as it was estimated that Boyle spends 4.1 million for heating, transport and electricity and emits 11,100 tonnes CO2 per year.

In order to create a more sustainable energy use model for Boyle, a Community Transition Roadmap was composed, simulating action throughout four improvement areas: Knowledge, Houses, Transport and Community. Different grants and opportunities were presented, related to insulation, electric vehicles, renewable power production, deep retrofitting and much more.

Members of GEAI, IT Sligo and Clár I.C.H. gave interesting presentations and the evening finished with interactive workshops.

Seminar slides

We visited the CAT!

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In the middle of May we came back from a wonderful trip to Wales and England – “we” standing for Del, Siri, Jules, Sasha and Sarah. Sarah had just finished her volunteering year with us and is back home now.

So, besides some lovely towns and the beauty of the fresh green countryside, the important destination for us was the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales.

We began the visit by a water-balanced funicular railway lift. Its particularity? It exploits the river current to store water in the top-cabin reservoir. The tank on the lower cabin is empty. It allows to move both cabins thanks to gravity.

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Our visit allowed us to discover a lot of technical innovations in the energy sector (heat pump, solar panels, wind turbine, biomass), the green buildings, gardens, and biodiversity.

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We finished with a very nice meal at the vegetarian café! This visit was very inspiring and gave us hope for a future of clean energy.

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PBP Bill calls for stop to oil and gas projects

Adoption of the fossil fuels Divestment Bill

Adoption of the fossil fuels Divestment Bill – October 2018

 

Tuesday 21 May 2019, People Before Profit party has proposed a bill to remove liquefied natural gas (LNG) and other fossil fuel projects from access to fast-track planning approval.

“If we are serious about the climate emergency that was declared, it is simply unacceptable that fossil fuel companies seeking to profit from the destruction of the environment could develop infrastructure to lock us into further dependency on fossil fuels,” Mr Boyd Barrett said. 

Good Energies Alliance Ireland supports this initiative. Our “fossil fuel dependence” has to be solved by innovative and breaking solutions. We consider that it is now necessary to direct funding (public and private) towards renewable projects and low carbon economy.

 

 

 

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