Stunning success of Renewable Energies – Prosperous Communities!

ProsperousCommunities08

The event “Renewable Energies – Prosperous Communities” has been a success. Yesterday, almost 100 people gathered in Manorhamilton to take their energy future into their own hands. The main outcome of this pioneering event was the decision to develop a plan for community-owned renewable energy projects in North Leitrim. The event, organised by Good Energies Alliance Ireland and Love Leitrim was also intensively followed on social media and it was livestreamed globally.

Pauline Gallacher, Neilston Trust (Scotland), Eamon Ryan, Green Party leader, and Cormac Walsh, Energy Co-operatives Ireland, were the main speakers. Gallacher’s presentation was one of the most inspiring ones. “Use community-owned energy to stimulate ownership of the carbon emission reduction agenda and harness your own resources to build your own sustainable future”, she told to the Irish audience.

ProsperousCommunities06

“Renewable Energies – Prosperous Communities” was aimed at raising awareness of the opportunities open to local communities to benefit from renewable energies, look at the potential to generate income and jobs for the community and identify local champions of renewable energy. During the day all the people attending had the chance to learn about successful community-owned experiences from Ireland and Scotland and also to raise every question, doubt and misunderstanding they might have had.

“We are delighted with the success of the event” GEAI director Aedín McLoughlin said at the end of this day of workshops and discussions. “It was great to see so many people , but this is only the first step of a bigger project. Renewables can be the source to re-energise rural communities, bringing jobs and income, and we want to replicate this event in many towns and villages across Ireland, providing sustainable alternatives for fossil fuels”, McLoughlin stated.

More pictures on Flickr!

ProsperousCommunities37

Only one week to start changing Ireland’s energy landscape!

solar-energy-1

Only 7 days left to Renewable Energies – Prosperous Communities! A full day of workshops and discussion taking place in Manorhamilton, Co Leitrim. This full day of workshops and discussions will look at the ways that renewable energies can generate income for communities and create local jobs, as well as reducing energy bills! We need to create an alternative vision for Northwest communities threatened by fracking and this is exactly the aim of Renewable Energies – Prosperous Communities!

People attending will have the opportunity to listen about successful experiences from Ireland and Scotland. Pauline Gallacher, from the Neilston Trust (Scotland), will tell how this town in the outskirts of Glasgow transformed the community from a dormitory town to a prosperous community thank to a community-owned small wind farm. Many rural communities can learn a lot from this experience and replicate it. Cormac Walsh, from Energy Co-Operatives Ireland, will talk about the potential of community energy cooperatives. Another key speaker is Eamon Ryan, Green Party leader, who will talk about the challenges of global warming.

During the day, GEAI will present the results of an Energy Audit carried out in Manorhamilton that shows that households spend more than €2 million every year on energy. Over three quarters of this is spent on imported fossil fuels and this shows the importance of replacing fossil fuels with renewables.

“Renewable Energies – Prosperous Communities” is the first event of its kind organised in Ireland, but it is not going to be the last. We could be witnessing the beginning of reshaping Ireland’s energy landscape and it is happening in the Northwest!

Programme
Registration

Unique approach to community ownership of renewable energy

Logo

Renewable Energies – Prosperous Communities is a unique event, combining presentations, workshops and discussions, taking place in Manorhamilton on June 24th. The day-long gathering will raise awareness of the opportunities open to local communities to benefit from renewable energies, look at the potential of wind energy and biomass to generate income and jobs for the community and identify local champions of renewable energy sources and uses.

The event is organised by Good Energies Alliance Ireland (GEAI) and Love Leitrim, both environmental NGOs. Eamon Ryan, Green Party leader, and Pauline Gallacher from the Neilston Trust (Scotland), will be the main speakers, but this is not going to be the usual conference where local people simply listen to experts. The aim is that everyone attending will get a chance to speak and be heard.

“We hear a lot about climate change and how renewable energies coRuld lower our carbon emissions”, said Dr Aedín McLoughlin, Director, GEAI. “What we don’t hear enough of is the potential of renewable energies to generate income and jobs for local communities if they are in community ownership. Scotland has 72 times more community-owned energy than Ireland, with roughly the same population!

“How is it that developers are allowed to build massive wind farms in rural areas, make fortunes from them and only give token “benefits” to local communities?” she asked. “Currently, rural communities are in decline and lack sustainable employment. Rural communities have no idea of the potential of renewable energies to generate local income and jobs and it is time that this situation changed.”

Programme
Registration
Speakers and Volunteers

Wind energy essential for Ireland’s future, but communities must benefit

By John Arnold

By John Arnold

We in GEAI have published our position paper on Wind Energy with some controversial conclusions. Our main position is that “The development of wind energy is an essential part of the development of low-carbon energy generation in Ireland but such development must have genuine benefits for and buy-in from the Irish people.”

Our EVS volunteer and researcher Irina Tiugan explains, “We fully support wind energy development, on-shore and off-shore, but not the approach that has been taken so far to such developments; communities must be at the core of the planning process. If communities are involved in wind energy projects, they have more chance of success. In Germany, France and Scotland, we have seen that the involvement of the community in the development process has led to general acceptance and a faster implementation of the project. In other words, if people genuinely benefit from local wind energy projects, opposition to them is far less.”

The potential of wind energy to contribute to creation of a low-carbon Ireland is huge. Ireland is the second windiest country in Europe after Scotland, and it has a great potential for wind power. At present, wind produces less than 20% of Irish electricity consumption while the country spends billions every year importing fossil fuels.

GEAI fully supports and encourages community ownership of wind energy projects and small neighbourhood wind energy projects.  “Many studies show that if people have buy-in they will accept wind energy development”, said Irina.

We encourage Government to move effectively towards a collaborative planning approach in the development of wind energy as a national resource owned by and benefiting the Irish people. “With this Position Paper we want to contribute to a scientific-based debate around wind energy in Ireland, as well as to help in building a  sustainable, low-carbon and fair country,” Irina concluded.

An overview of fracking in the EU

European_flag

The European Union lacks a common policy on fracking. Some countries are convinced supporters while others have banned it for safety and environmental reasons. This disagreement between the member states prevented the passing of a Directive regulating shale gas exploitation, resulting in the European Commission being restricted to adopting certain “recommendations“.

Recently the European Parliament published a briefing document highlighting the fracking policies of the members states. There are three groups: those that support fracking, those against, and those that still don’t know if they support or not. The UK is a very particular case, because it lies on both sides of the divide.  The following summarises the report:

Countries supporting frackingiIPFxxAvBxys

England (UK).  The British Government is in a “dash for gas”, despite some of the governing coalition MPs supporting a ban on fracking due to its environmental and health impacts. During the parliamentary debate, the Government accepted a Labour amendment that banned fracking from 40% of the shale gas areas previously offered for exploration.

Northern Ireland (UK).  The Stormont Executive has issued four exploratory licences that include the possibility of fracking. Two of them are still active. Drilling is about to take place in Ballinlea, near the Giant’s Causeway, and in Carrickfergus, beside a water reservoir near Belfast. Another licence was terminated by the Government but it is still open for new companies to apply.

Poland. This country has the largest resources in Europe, according to the US Energy Information Authority. However, the first exploration wells have shown disappointing results, and prompted some operators e.g. Chevron and Exxon, to leave Poland.  New laws to facilitate fracking have been passed but in June 2014 the EU Commission “opened legal proceedings against Poland, on the grounds that the new law infringes the environmental impact assessment (EIA) directive by allowing drilling at depths of up to 5000 metres without having assessed the potential environmental impact.”

Denmark. Despite being one the main promoter of renewable energies in Europe, Denmark approved exploratory drilling in 2014.

Spain. Spanish government supports shale gas development after putting a break on renewable energy development. Some of the regions have tried to ban fracking, but the Constitutional Court have declared that those moratoriums are unconstitutional.

Lithuania. The European Parliament report shows that this Baltic country “is the process of introducing “investor-friendly shale gas regulations”, but companies like Chevron “pulled out the country citing an uncertain legal framework”.

Romania. This country lifted an earlier ban in 2013 and is supportive of shale gas. The reports point out the “Chevron started exploratory drilling in  in May 2014”.

 

Countries against

Bulgaria. In January 2012 this country imposed a moratorium on fracking and revoked licences for shale gas exploration.

France. In 2013 French Constitutional Court upheld a ban on fracking approved two years before. France has some of the largest estimated shale gas reserves in Europe but President François Hollande has promised to maintain the ban on fracking as long as he is in office.

Scotland (UK). In January 2015 the Scottish Government called for a moratorium on fracking.  “This moratorium will continue until such time as the work I have set out to Parliament today, including a full public consultation and a full public heatlth impact assesment, is completed”, Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said. Moreover, Scotland is expecting to get control over minerals rights in the enlargement of Home Rule promised after the independence referedum last year.

Wales (UK).  The Welsh Assembly called the Government to do “everything within its power to prevent fracking from taking place in Wales until it is proven to be safe in both an environmental and public health context.” The Welsh Government wants to achieve the same level of control over mineral rights as Scotland.

 

Maybe 

ireland-is-not-for-shale

Ireland. Our country declared a moratorium on fracking in 2012, when the Government decided not to issue any licences until the completion of a 2-years research program. Three licensing option were granted in 2010, but no decision will be made until 2017, when the research is finished.

Germany. The biggest European economy still doesn’t have a policy on fracking. The president of the Federal Environmental Agency said that “as long as there are no firm statements on the risks of this technology and how they can be controlled, there should be no fracking activity in Germany for the purpose of shale and coalbed gas extraction”. “But fracking has not been prohibited“, she remarked.

Netherlands. The European Parliament report points out that “shale gas exploration in the Netherlands gas been suspended, while a study to be completed in 2015 on its environmental and social effects is carried out.

COPYRIGHT

® All rights reserved to GEAI 2018