It’s time to boost solar electricity in Ireland

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As a new Renewable Electricity Support Scheme is currently under consideration by the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment (DCCAE), a recent analysis commissioned by Friends of the Earth (FOE) and carried out by climate policy expert Joseph Curtin proposes a support scheme which emphasises the cost-effectiveness  of residential  rooftop solar PV development across the country, adding a significant contribution towards Ireland’s low- carbon energy transition.

 In the paper a financial modelling is suggested, initially to be limited to 50.000 households,  to support evidence that rooftop solar PV installation “can be done at a reasonable cost in a fair way” according to the author. This will increase social benefits deriving from the generation of type of electricity as show by successful examples from the UK and across Europe.

Arguments in favour as well as counter-arguments are also addressed in the research. For instance, even though it is recognized that small-scale rooftop installations are more expensive if compared to commercial buildings, it is also pinpointed how there is no evidence in any literature, policy assessment or report which can suggest that only high income householders can get benefits from the investment in solar power generation.

“The government has promised to put citizens and communities at the heart of the transition to a clean energy system and this research shows that solar power is the key to unlocking citizens participation” said Oisin Coghlan, Director of Friends of the Earth.

The Irish Government has now an important opportunity to take a further step towards the decarbonisation of its economy while increasing public participation.

 

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Ecosia – An eco search engine

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Still searching with Google? Help the planet with every search with a greener alternative: Ecosia.

The forests are fading away and with them all the species that inhabit it. The rapid destruction of forests has put in a state of emergency a great variety of species of flora and fauna that depend on that ecosystem. Deforestation leads to a drastic decrease in local and national water supply. It also breaks the climate balance increasing the threat of the global climate change.

In view of that, an international global preventive and response measures is required and given the absence of policies one platform called Ecosia wants to supply it.

Ecosia is a search engine that donates to tree planting programs. How does it work?

  1. Set Ecosia as your default browser.
  2. Search the Internet with Ecosia.
  3. Internet search ads generate revenues for Ecosia.
  4. Ecosia uses these revenues for tree planting.

When you search the Internet with Ecosia, 80% of the benefits of search ads go to tree planting programs. Until now Ecosia have planted more than 12 million trees and have the objective of one billion trees in 2020. They are planting trees around all the world: Nicaragua, Perú, Burkina Faso, Tanzania, Madagascar e Indonesia.

Climate Change – People Change? GEAI’s Youth Climate Action Week

From the 24th to 30th of July, Irish, Italian and Croatian young people between 18 and 24 years old travelled to Solta, a Croatian island near Split. For a week, they looked at their potential for leadership, focussing mainly on Climate Change and how young people can be inspired to take action.  They were 24 participants with nine accompanying leaders.

This project was a Strategic Partnership event, funded by EU Erasmus+.  The project has four partners – Good Energies Alliance Ireland (lead partner), DOOR (Croatian partner that organised the venue, promoter of sustainable energy development), Legambiente (Italian partner with the aim of making a new kind of development and diffused well-being through environmental culture) and Youth Work Ireland Galway (working with disadvantaged young people).

Legambiente’s website: http://international.legambiente.it/
DOOR’s website: http://door.hr/english/

The participants gathered in the Zelena akcija’s (Friends of the Earth Croatia) Solar Academy. It is a camp made from ex-military barracks and re-used as a place where young people from all over Europe can come and learn more about Climate Change and about practical ways to fight against it. The location is isolated, the water used for hygiene is filtered collected rainwater, the meals are vegetarian and the hot water is provided thanks to home-made solar panels (built in the camp itself). The young people got to experience an alternative way of life where they really had to pay attention to their water consumption and to the way they eat and it was actually an important part of the learning experience that took place on the island.

Video introducing the Solar Academy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ZcVOJD7Ixg

Every day the participants and their leaders gathered and participated in various workshops facilitated by Brigitta Varadi, an international artist who organises and runs those kinds of leadership development events.

Brigitta Varadi’s website: http://brigittavaradi.squarespace.com/

The workshops facilitated participants to find, in an enjoyable and unique environment, the Climate Champions within themselves and to feel empowered to address the issues threatening our planet and their future. Thanks to several ice-breaking exercises, the participants felt comfortable with each other and it created a safe atmosphere for them to exchange their ideas about Climate Change and how to find solutions to the problems it brings. They got to challenge their own shyness and fears and to experience what it is like to work as group to create innovative ways to communicate about Climate Change. They learned and personally changed during this one week and it is the leaders’ belief that if people change, then they can bring positive changes in the world.

All of this happened in a beautiful but remote island, without modern facilities, that contributed to an atmosphere of cooperation, friendliness and laughs.  All the participants had an unforgettable and enjoyable week, with challenges for all but great learning as well.

By the beginning of the next school year, a website will be created to present all the details of this project and share its methodology and results so that anyone can benefit from it.

EVS ECO-activity Manual is ready!

After one year organising environmental workshops and games in Youth Café Drumshanbo, EVS volunteers Kate & Andrea, have compiled all the activities they have done in an useful manual. And here it is, ready to be used by educators and youth workers. The activity plan developed in the manual is intended to enable learning and fun at the same time. It is directed towards young people after school who therefore need some dynamism and excitement. We are really proud of our manual and all the effort we have put into it. It is an excellent result after one year of work! This project was a great opportunity to get young local people involved in environmental issues using a non formal education approach.  Special thanks to everyone who helped and contributed to make this possible!

Click on link HERE to download the Manual

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Reduce your bill – join local sustainable community.

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Our Survey of Four Communities in Leitrim is done

Volunteers from GEAI finished surveys last week on how households get and use energy . Four towns were surveyed: Drumshanbo, Carrick-on-Shannon, Ballinamore and Carrigallen. 10% of houses in Drumshanbo (60), Carrick-on-Shannon (150), Ballinamore (50) were surveyed and 20% of houses in Carrigallen (25).

This energy survey is part of the Northwest Energy Communities Start-up project (NECS). The project is a part of the national plan for transition of communities all over Ireland to a low carbon economy, moving away from fossil fuels and using renewable energy resources.

The partners in this project are Good Energies Alliance Ireland and I.T. Sligo. The project is funded by SEAI – the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland

Basically the NECS project is researching how people, in selected towns, use energy and how much it costs them. GEAI and IT Sligo prepared questionnaires for each town.  The questions were about type of houses, heating systems, heating control systems and most importantly, questions about energy bills.

After all the information is analyzed, GEAI and IT Sligo will organize an Exhibition Day in each surveyed town to give the results of the surveys and plan how residents could have warmer, more comfortable homes while costing them less on fuel and heating.

After the project, each town can be registered as a  (SEC) with the SEAI.  The SEC programme gives grants to make homes more energy efficient and warmer through more insulation, better windows, solar panels and upgrading boilers, for example.

Form volunteers perspective.

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For the GEAI volunteers it was a unique experience.

“We were knocking on doors and asking questions. This experience helped to train our communication skills, flexibility, teamwork and many other skills.”

The volunteers worked 2 days per week in the evening from about 5 pm till 8:30 pm. They were supported by local volunteers in each town, so that people were happy to answer questions.

“We came across different situations, different people’s reactions. The vast majority of people were nice to us and they were glad to help us.  They were also interested in reducing their energy bills!”

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