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:

GEAI and Ballinagleragh Community Hall get ‘greener’

As part of our commitment to a sustainable future GEAI has changed our electricity supplier to Templederry Renewable Energy Supply Ltd. T/A CRES (Community Renewable Energy Supply). This is the first ‘community’ owned and operated electricity supply company in Ireland that sources energy entirely from renewable sources/technologies.

Solar Panel on Hall

Part of GEAI’s work is to promote the development of sustainable energy projects which could involve local communities working together to establish their own community owned/controlled electricity generating facilities.

Also, in furtherance of this objective GEAI has submitted an application to the Leader Programme for funding to install a 6Kw array of photovoltaic solar panels on the roof of our operational base – Ballinagleragh Community Hall. It is intended that this will generate enough electricity to drastically reduce our reliance on the ‘national grid’ – even though we are currently using electricity from CRES.

We hope to have a decision within the next couple of months on this application. So… watch our newsletter and website for further updates.

 

 

 

Microgeneration and overviews for communities

Microgeneration reportOur microgeneration report, researched by our EVS volunteer Francesca Franzetti, is now published!

This report gives an overview of microgeneration for non-technical readers. It deals with all aspects of microgeneration from policies to support mechanisms; from community energy to grid connections.

We hope that it will be useful for groups and communities interested in implementing small renewable energy projects.

 

Download the report: Micro-Scale Electricity Generation : An Overview for Communities

 

 

GEAI field trip to Belmullet, Co. Mayo

Solar PVs on Teach Greannai community centre’s rooftop

What an interesting day we had in Belmullet!  Recently, some of us had a really interesting guided tour on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in Rural Communities organised by the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI) in partnership with IT Sligo and the Western Development Commission.

 

 

The purpose of the tour was to showcase the use of renewable energy technologies in rural areas adopted with the help of SEAI grants.  During the day, it also showcased the wonderful landscape of the area and the enthusiasm of the people!

Dr. Orla Nic Suibhne explaining the micro-grid system

The visit began in an Enterprise Centre at  Eachléim Udaras na Gaeltacha to see a demonstration on site of a micro-grid system. Forty-four south-facing  solar photovoltaic panels  (PVs), produce 11kW electricity in direct current (DC).  These are connected to transformers which convert the electricity into alternating current (AC), used by the building. In addition, there is battery storage system of 5-40 Kw/h and 3 smart electrical thermal storage units. The whole building management system is monitored remotely. The solar PVs were installed in 2015 and have produced a total of 23,000 Kw/h since then.

Afterwards, we went to the Community Hall which has been upgraded with two air to water heat pumps, internal and attic insulation, new windows and doors besides a 7Kw east-west solar PV array.

A very interesting part of the tour brought us to Belderra Strand, a stunning sandy beach, where the Atlantic Marine Energy Test Site is being developed by SEAI. The goal is to test full-scale wave energy converters which will be connected to an onshore substation.

GEAI volunteers looking at a solar PVs array

In addition to that, we also visited the Irish Wheelchair Association, where another array of 1Kw PVs is fully accessible to people in wheelchairs,  Teach Greannai, a Community centre, and Bangor Hall both of which were fully upgraded with SEAI interventions. We also had the chance to test drive an electric van!

It was a very insightful and informative day.  Dr. Orla Nic Suibhne, our brilliant tour guide, gave us lots of interesting information about renewable energy technologies and what’s available in terms of SEAI grants for householders, charities and community groups.

Renewable energies are a great opportunity for rural Ireland and we have all the technologies available to move away from a fossil-based economy.

Climate Change “not a priority for the North and Western Regional Assembly”

Our recent submission to the NWRA concerning their Regional Spatial Strategy, has been hard-hitting concerning the report’s lack of emphasis of Climate Change and the urgency of responding to it.

Once again, serious climate change commitments are lacking at regional as well as national levels. Climate change is real and is happening right now and every delay or reticence in adopting further policies to cope with it will result in huge economic and financial losses for the Irish economy. Moreover, there seems to be a lack of clear vision regarding the concept of “sustainability” throughout the whole Strategy as neither indications nor goals and targets are provided on how to achieve it.

Ireland North and Western Region (Ph. NWRA issue paper)

We at GEAI were responding to a Public Consultation on the new Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy (RSES) launched by the Northern and Western Regional Assembly in December 2017. The RSES Strategy aims at “reaching a shared understanding about regional economic development processes […] and promoting innovative, competitive and a productive region”. In our view, the document fails in this aim as it fails to recognise the fact that Climate change is a serious threat to Ireland’s North and Western Region and adaptation is an immediate requirement.

Its view is that “the transition (to a low carbon economy) will require a cultural step change in the approach to Green Energy Development”. However, it does not include a roadmap to such cultural change and, indeed, relegates climate action to just one section of the report.

What is not realised is that this transition includes a big opportunity now to unlock the renewable energy potential of the Northern and Western Region. We propose a vision of the Region becoming a self-sustaining macro-generator of electricity, producing a significant proportion of the nation’s total need for power. This can only happen through community energy ownership and Government support for microgeneration. As a first step towards achieving this vision, it is vital that Government initiates immediately a scheme for fair feed-in tariffs for all electricity generation from 50 watts to 6 megawatts.

Awareness raising is key to undertaking such a cultural change. We therefore suggest to create and implement a Climate Change & Renewable Energy Awareness Programme to boost behavioural change.

Read our full submission

COPYRIGHT

® All rights reserved to GEAI 2018