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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The problem with Biomass – it can emit more carbon per unit of energy than most fossil fuels!

 

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Is wood a carbon-neutral energy source?

In February 2017, Chatham House published Woody Biomass for Power and Heat: Impacts on the Global Climate, by Duncan Brack.  The report argues that policies promoting wood for renewable energy production are based on the flawed assumption that wood is a carbon-neutral energy source.  In fact, as reported, emissions from wood burning may be higher than the fossil fuels replaced.

Biomass in general emits more carbon per unit of energy than most fossil fuels. EU policies do not account for the emissions from bioenergy in the energy sector, because it is assumed that these emissions are accounted for at the point of harvest in the land use sector. However, whether these emissions can be recuperated by future growth of biomass is not only uncertain, but often unlikely.  The report finds that part of the emissions may never be accounted for, such as when EU countries use biomass imported from the United States.

Policies must distinguish between different types of feedstock

The report, in line with earlier recommendations by environmental groups, proposes that policies clearly distinguish between different types of feedstock and provide support only to those which reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the short term, taking into account changes in forest carbon stocks. With regard to wood harvesting, only residues that would otherwise have been burnt as waste or would have been left in the forest and decayed rapidly can be considered to be carbon-neutral over the short to medium term.

In principle, sustainability criteria can ensure that only biomass with the lowest impact on the climate are used; the current criteria in use in some EU member states and under development in the EU do not achieve this.

Youth fun with EVS energy promoters.

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On Wednesday 9th November our EVS volunteers, Kate and Andrea, visited the Youth Café in Drumshanbo to develop an activity programme on Renewable Energy with a group of kids between 10-12 years old.

The purpose of the programme is to understand what children know about the environment and what they are interested in. Our final goal is to arouse their interest in environmental protection and to recognise how we can protect the planet.

We organised different activities: first an icebreaker to get familiar with our group and try to have fun and know each other. After, a game to understand how important land is and the impact of climate change (floods, droughts, hurricanes) on those who lose their land. Finally we used different pictures related to pollution, recycling, energy, wildlife, and we discussed them. For Kate it was really interesting to explain to them what a hydroelectric power station is and how it works.

The children were full of energy and creativity, really engaged with the activities and we understand that they would like to have more sessions with us! We had great support from youth’s centre workers who helped us with all the activities.

It was our first experience with the group and we have found it a perfect combination of learning and fun! It was really interesting to see how all of them began thinking in a different way. We are looking forward to working with them again!

GEAI WINS PRIZE FOR EVS VIDEO

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Barry Gilmartin in action on Lough Allen

GEAI has won 3rd Prize in a national competition, “Pay It Forward”, to publicise 20 years of the European Voluntary Service programme.  Three young EVS volunteers, together with a young local film-maker, Barry Gilmartin, made a really excellent short video to show the world what life is like for volunteers in County Leitrim and the benefits they gained by spending  a year here.

(Link to video)

For the past four years, GEAI has hosted young European volunteers to help with our work in the campaign against fracking and on raising awareness about climate change and the challenges facing Ireland as well as the rest of the world. The scheme is funded by the EU Erasmus+ programme, which pays for travel, accommodation and food for those young people.

The EVS volunteers come from all over Europe – from Spain to Romania, from France to Bellarus – and stay in Leitrim for a year at a time.  They experience Irish rural life and culture, travel all over Ireland, make friends with local people and other European volunteers, develop their skills and improve their English language and employability.  In return, the volunteers work with GEAI to publicise issues through website, Facebook and Twitter, they help to organise campaigns and public meetings and do research on renewable energy.

“We are really delighted with our success”, said Aedín McLoughlin, GEAI Director.  “This video was very much an initiative of the volunteers themselves who got together with Barry Gilmartin from Ballinaglera to plan the whole thing.  It is a huge credit to all the young people involved who showed so clearly the benefits of the EVS scheme and I am thrilled that Barry got the recognition he deserved.”

EVS is funded by the Erasmus+ Programme

LINK TO VIDEO

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